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Building Principles for Green Buildings

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources
Commercially available, cost-effective energy technologies could reduce overall energy consumption in North America by as much as one-third--worth some $380 billion. Implementing such strategies such as proper site selection and airtight construction, as well as installing energy-efficient equipment and appliances and renewable energy systems will reduce the amount of energy the building requires to operate and to keep its occupants comfortable.

Environmental Impact
The built environment has had a tremendous impact on the global environment. However, buildings can interact more positively with the environment if special attention is given to preserving the site’s integrity and natural characteristics, landscaping effectively and selecting materials that have lower embodied energy and those that are produced locally.

Resource Conservation
Conserving resources is a cornerstone of green building techniques. There are many ways to conserve resources during the building process. For example, selecting materials that have at least some recycled content can conserve natural resources and virgin materials. Minimizing construction waste can ease the impact on landfills and resources. Installing water-efficient and energy-efficient products can conserve resources while reducing operating costs. Choosing a green (plant-covered) roof can reduce energy use, cool urban heat islands, and prevent storm-water runoff, as well as contributing to wildlife habitat and air quality.

Indoor Air Quality
Energy-efficient buildings are more airtight and therefore hold greater potential for indoor air quality problems, especially if not properly ventilated. Building products can contribute to poor air quality, although selecting materials lower in chemicals and toxins and installing mechanical ventilation systems to ensure an adequate fresh air supply can reduce these potential problems.

Community Issues
Placing green building projects within easy access of public transportation, medical facilities, shopping areas and recreational facilities decreases the need for automobiles and encourages bicycling and walking. In addition, successful green buildings blend into the community, preserving natural and historical characteristics and will utilize existing infrastructure in order to reduce sprawl. Co-housing represents one approach to creating a community of green buildings and is growing in popularity throughout the world.