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In layman's terms, a green building is a inhabitable space which uses the least amount of energy possible. There are many ways to do this, from designing a site close to public transportation, to adding a green roof for insulation and thus cutting down on the use of electrical energy. In other words, the green builder is mindful of resources and careful to utilize materials which minimize their negative impact on the environment.
Though the term "green building" seems to have become a familiar buzzword in recent years, it is not a totally new concept. A small group of what would now be called green builders and designers formed an alliance around 1973, which turned its focus to the conservation of energy and resources in building. As a result, there are a some noted green buildings from that era.
Green building has become a growing trend amid decreasing resources and increasing concerns about the environment. There are a number of green building magazines. A contractor can become a "Designated Green Builder" and a Realtor® can become a "Designated Green Agent". Buyers are seeking out energy-efficient green homes because they are easier and less expensive to maintain. It is almost a sign of status to own a green home, and in the US, the government gives tax breaks to those who do.
There are a number of characteristics that can make a building "green," beginning with the location. Some green buildings are purposely located within a close proximity to public transit, therefore cutting down on automobile gas omissions. A green builder may use quickly renewing materials such as wool, cotton, and bamboo, instead of hard wood and synthetic fibers. Some materials might be surplus from other construction projects. A green builder might also buy locally, so as to help sustain the regional economy.
There are a number of green building standards and organizations around the world whose main focus is to minimize the impact of buildings on the environment. In the US, the United States Green Build Council (USGBC) consists of green builders, Realtors®, architects, designers, and trade associations interested in focusing on energy conservation in construction. This is the group that created the "green" designation. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system in which a building can receive a green certification. The LEED certification is internationally recognized and can be utilized to promote the sale of green buildings.