Thursday, January 11, 2007

It’s Oh So Easy Building Green

There is no way to balance the topics of real estate and environmental issues without stumbling over the Build Green Movement several times. This topic could fill a thousand blogs all on its own, but let’s start with some basic background information about this hot trend designed to add a touch of cool to urban landscapes.

The term “Green Building” in its most basic form implies the conscious decision to build structures and cityscapes that provide the least amount of malicious impact on the environment as possible. Not only are green practices beneficial to the environment, but are also designed to improve the physical, mental, and psychological health of the people that inhabit and work in them.

The predecessors to today’s green buildings included 19th century structures like London’s Crystal Palace, which took advantage of roof ventilators and underground cooling chambers. The early twentieth century saw the rise of the skyscraper and denser cityscapes. Architects and engineers of the time experimented with the use of deeper set windows, awnings to create natural shading, and reflective glass among other technological advances to make buildings more affordable and efficient.

The 1970s saw the true birth of today’s “Build Green” movement. An increased awareness in the way humans impact their environment spurred leading environmentalists, developers, architects, and engineers to begin searching for ways to cut down on the impact of urban sprawl.

The first official green building program began in Austin, TX in 1991 and soon sister programs popped up around the country and overseas. Today’s hot spots for green building include Texas, Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, and New England. As technology and demand increased throughout the ‘90s and into the 21st century, so did the number of builders following green practices. Between 1990 and 2004 over 61,000 new homes were built following local green guidelines. Green practices have been adopted by more than just environmental advocates, the building industry as a whole has picked up more and more environment-friendly practices over the years. A new home built today is twice as efficient as one built 30 years ago.

The benefits of green building are obvious and extremely beneficial. Eco-friendly energy systems costs less to operate and blend more seamlessly into a building’s superstructure. Beneficial ventilation, heating, and lighting systems provide tenants with a cleaner environment, thereby decreasing sickness rates and raising morale. Most governments give companies with green buildings significant tax cuts because their stamp on issues like waste management, flooding, and pollution are that much lighter.

The future of green building is bright – especially with more local governments, companies, and contractors coming to understand the benefits and ease of implementation. We hope to bring in some market and construction experts to further discuss the important issues regarding green building, the real estate market, and our little blue planet.



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