Green building design is a term used to identify the various aspects of creating structures using environmentally friendly materials and methods. The green design concept also encompasses the idea of ensuring the buildings are energy efficient and continue to interact more favorably with the ecosystem than other building options. In general, there are three important areas that must be addressed in order for the architecture to be considered a true green building design.
The selection of materials is one of the key aspects of green building design. Selecting materials that are considered sustainable is very important when it comes to building green. Using recycled materials to construct interior and exterior walls helps to divert those materials from ending up in landfills. In like manner, the reuse of materials obtained from demolished structures can often meet this requirement. Even the use of renewable resources such as bales of straw for the walls of the home would count as an eco-friendly approach to construction of a new building.
When possible, local materials should be used in the construction of the green building. This not only helps to ensure the materials are friendly to the local environment but also minimizes the use of fossil fuels to transport materials to the building site.
Along with the selection of materials, making the building energy efficient is also important to the task of green building design. Often this means finding ways to maximize the use of natural lighting, the installation of power sources such as solar panels or wind energy generation devices, and the purchase of energy efficient appliances to minimize the use of energy from any source. The efficient use of water for showers, toilets and even for washing clothes and doing dishes is usually addressed. Even details such as the selection of colors for the home may come into play as a means of enhancing the green aspects of the energy saving measures.
Landscaping on the building site is also part of the overall process of green building design. Just as the building itself makes efficient use of recycled or reclaimed materials, the landscaping does the same. Any paving is accomplished using recycled products. The selection of plans for the space focuses on plants that require little water and can thrive without the need for the use of chemical based pesticides. Decorative beds are designed and constructed so they can be maintained using compost and mulch generated on the property. Even any outdoor furnishings should be constructed using natural or reclaimed materials, thus eliminating the need to fashion benches or other seating from previously unused resources.
Ideally, a true sustainable building design will situate the structure so that it works with the surrounding terrain and causes minimal impact on the area. Homes may be constructed in a manner that allows one side of the structure to be enclosed by a hillside, thus maximizing the insulation of the home while also allowing the structure to blend in with the countryside.
The creation of a true green building design can take time and precision to accomplish. In many countries, standards have been put in place to determine if a building project can truly be referred to as green. In the United States, LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, can provide information on how to construct a home or other building so it can rightfully be known as a green building design.