World over, a good percentage of folks constructing new buildings aspire their buildings to be as green as possible.
At the same time, there is a general opinion that a green building costs lot more to build than a conventional building. This perception stops quite a few well-meaning folks to venture further!
Is it expensive to construct green buildings?
Well, let us first consider what a green building is.
Without getting into what certifications such as LEED define as a green building, in essence, a green building is something that incorporates many aspects that result in energy and resource efficiency, and thus minimizes the overall negative impact the house and its occupants have on the environment.
If you look at the concept of green buildings with this perspective, it becomes quickly clear that some of the following concepts alone can make a building quite “green”
- Simple mechanisms such as having many windows and ventilation outlets to allow sunlight and natural airflow – these reduce the amount of energy required for lighting and cooling.
- Basic systems to capture wasted rainwater and direct it into the ground
- Simple composting systems that can take household waste and turn it into compost to be used for gardens
- Having trees (if possible) around the house which reduces the overall temperature within the house during summer
- Simple insulation mechanisms such as having white or light paint for the exteriors can keep the indoors cool, thus requiring less use of air conditioning.
- Installing energy efficiency lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Today, these energy efficient alternatives are available for most electrical equipment in a house.
The above are some of the simplest mechanisms by which you can make your building green.
Most of these cost little to implement. Now, one might argue that the energy efficiency lighting and air conditioning systems cost much more than their energy guzzling counterparts. This might not be entirely true. One, the energy efficiency equipment most times cost more, but not much more, than their conventional counterparts. Two, these energy efficiency equipment start providing energy savings to you from day one – you thus recover the additional price you paid to buy the energy efficient equipment within a few short months.
Overall, note it down: Green buildings do not cost the sun and the moon. And they are cool!
Not long back, we had to rebuild our ancestral home in our village. When I suggested that we should incorporate many green elements in the buildings, all my family members agreed as long as it did not cost us 10% more than the original estimate. We included some of the aspects mentioned above – especially on ventilation, rainwater harvesting and insulation. We also made sure we reused some of the materials from the older house that was demolished. On final analyses, the house cost only about 5% higher than our original estimate.