Exclusive excerpt from my new book, The Green Engineer: Engineering Careers to Save the Earth.
Do you think a building can give you more energy, make you more alert, or healthier? Although the buildings we visit and the homes we live in protect us from sun, snow, rain, wind, and the other elements of nature, they also affect our health and the environment in many ways. If you have ever been in a green building, you have probably found that as well as being very comfortable, it was also beautiful. There was probably special care taken to have good indoor air quality, comfortable lighting, and be environmentally sustainable. That’s part of what green building is all about. Green buildings can be homes, warehouses, skyscrapers, or any built structure that are designed to be sensitive to human health and the natural environment.
The energy used to heat and power non-green constructed buildings in the US produces 38.1 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions, consumes 12 percent of the total water used, and 39 percent of the total energy used. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions are also created from manufacturing new building materials and the debris from traditional construction fill landfills. Green construction addresses these issues by designing buildings that meet low emissions requirements and that have a higher rate of reuse and recycling at the end of its useful life.
There are many benefits to green construction. Not only is it good for the environment (green buildings can enhance and protect biodiversity, improving air and water quality, reduce waste, and conserve natural resources), but green buildings can also reduce operating costs and improve worker health and productivity.
“My favorite part of the job is helping someone understand that being green can improve their life and save them money.” -Gay Taylor, PE, LEED AP BD+C, President, The Taylor Waller Companies and former Engineering Manager for Federal Express