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What is Building Green?

In 1860, Auguste Mouchout, concerned about the uses and limitations of coal, endeavored to create a device that used the energy of the sun for the energy needs of humankind. But it wasn't until the 1980's that solar power became a serious contender as an alternative to traditional energy sources. At the same time in the 1860's, Etienne Lenoir invented the first successful internal combustion engine. Interestingly, the engine was not powered by gasoline but by the less toxic illumination gas (hydrogen, methane and ethylene). About a decade later, gasoline was used to fuel the I.C.E. Now over a century later, most prominently in the 1990's, environmentally conscious inventors have made the effort to develop effective, alternatively fueled automobiles. As we begin the 21st century, alternative "green" building is becoming the topic of discussion for consumers, inventors, and builders who, conscious of our responsibility to future generations, venture to use our resources responsibly.

Green Building Defined

Green building is an alternative approach to building construction and remodeling by using fewer raw materials and reducing unnecessary waste while, at the same time, managing to construct energy efficient and durable buildings. The term green is used so often that it is difficult to determine what may be considered "green." The criterion that follows will attempt to clarify this ambiguous term.

# 1 Considering the material

The most pressing questions when one determines whether a construction is green or not: Can the material be recycled? Can it be reused? Is the material biodegradable?

--Recycled materials are materials that are collected and reused in a different form. (e.g., a coke can into another manufactured product

--A material is considered reusable when it is salvaged and reused in its original form. Reusable materials cut costs and reduce unnecessary use of other materials. --A biodegradable material is a material that can break down organically back into the earth without any toxins and/or waste materials.

#2 Is it environmentally friendly?

Simply stated, a dwelling is environmentally friendly if it is constructed and maintained in such a way that it does not harm the essential stabilization of life upon the earth. Quite often, an environmentally friendly dwelling replaces traditional approaches to construction that cause harm to the environment. A few questions one can ask to determine how green a building is are: Which and how much raw materials are used? What sorts of toxins or pollutions are eliminated by choosing this green material? Is the construction process detrimental to the health of the builders and/or the future occupants?

#3 What types of material have a direct negative effect on the environment?

If one decides to build green, one must eliminate destructive materials used during or left after the construction of the dwelling. Here are a few questions one must consider:

--. What is the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) of the building material? To determine the LCA of a dwelling one can use this "Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability" software -- Which materials damage the environment and in what way are such materials detrimental? Materials to be avoided include, but are not limited to: persistent organic pollutants (POPs), persistent bioaccumulative toxics (PBTs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs)

The ramifications of irresponsible use of our natural resources may be incalculably disadvantageous to the future of life upon this planet. Instead of knowledge and technology, convenience and simplicity may be our greatest enemy. Moreover, in a world where the use of resources create political instability, it is an understanding of our weaknesses rather then the application of our strengths that may prove beneficial.

About the Author

Mark Fagiano is the president of Arete Apprenticeship. His recent project is the creation of a information based website for real estate investing, If you wish to contribute to his site in exchange for free advertisement visit Real Estate Triumph