Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are an entire class of carbon-based chemicals that give off vapors at normal room temperatures. Thousands of products emit VOCs, including paints and lacquers, paint strippers, ad-hesives and sealants, carpets and carpet backing, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment (copiers and printers,) graphics and craft materials, and permanent markers. When I was growing up, our family got a new car every three to five years....

Xeriscaping

Outdoor water uses, primarily for landscaping, consume an estimated eight billion gallons per day in the US, perhaps as much as one-third of all water use.168 Xeriscaping is a well-used term for water-conserving landscaping, the prefix denoting dry. Another term might be natural landscaping. The essential feature of xeriscaping is to employ regionally appropriate plants and planting techniques (such as mulching) that reduce or eliminate water use except from normal precipitation in the area. If...

Restoration of Sites

A goal of many green building projects is to leave the land a better place than it was before. Achieving this goal requires site restoration activities, such as rehabilitating natural drainage systems, replacing wide swaths of green lawns with plants that provide wildlife habitat and replanting ornamental plants with native and adapted species that need far less water and intensive maintenance. As we complete the switch from a predominantly manufacturing economy to one based primarily on...

Investing in Green Buildings

In 2006 real estate investment in green buildings grew dramatically with the announcement of a joint venture by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) to fund future commercial real estate projects by the Hines development organization. A large national real estate developer, Hines is well-known for its commitment to Energy Star and LEED certification for its buildings.80 The Hines CalPERS Green Development Fund (HCG) was capitalized with over 120 million of committed...

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is diesel-equivalent, processed fuel derived from biological sources (such as vegetable oils, even waste cooking oil from restaurants such as fast-food establishments), that can be used unmodified in diesel engines. Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic and produces significantly fewer emissions than petroleum-based diesel when burned. A recent article reported that chicken fat could be used, prompting major chicken producers such as Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms and Smithfield Foods...

Green Buildings in a Global Context

Green buildings are part of a global response to increasing awareness of the role of human activity in causing global climate change. Buildings account for more than 40 of all global carbon dioxide emissions, one of the main culprits implicated in the phenomenon of global warming. While the US and Western Europe, Canada and Japan contribute the majority of greenhouse gas emissions at the present time, this situation is going to change dramatically in the near future. The projected rapid growth...

LEDs Lightemitting Diodes

LEDs are a revolutionary new lighting technology that reduce energy consumption, allow lighting to be programmed by computer and permit wide variations in lighting color. LEDs use chips, not bulbs, so emit a lot less heat than incandescent or even fluorescent lamps. Made with computer chips, they are easily dimmable and programmable. A good example is a new product from Herman Miller that's winning design awards. Shown below, the Leaf personal light offers maximum lighting options with less...

Onsite Sewage Treatment

We live in a flush without fear society, in which most of us just flush away and presume that they will take care of it somewhere downstream. Of course, for most of us, our downstream is someone else's upstream Nevertheless, for the most part, this is a reasonable presumption, since modern sewage treatment systems have been perfected over the past 100 years, and flush toilets have been around since Thomas Crapper first popularized them in London in the 19th century.104 However, a basic...

Design

In architecture, celebrity designers such as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano and Santiago Calatrava are international icons. Management guru Tom Peters began talking about the design decade several years ago he says, Design is the seat of the soul.41 In his view, every business needs to incorporate the essence of design thinking elegance with economy. With noted architect Michael Graves designing for Target and Martha Stewart for K-Mart, and stores such as Design...

Return on Investment

Green buildings eventually will compete in the marketplace with standard buildings, so it's reasonable to ask that they be evaluated financially and economically on the same basis. Return on investment also expressed as internal rate of return or net present value is fundamental to evaluating economic decisions. Simply put, return on investment is how much I plan to make, either annually or totally, from an investment, with all numbers expressed in today's dollars. If I'm going to take the risk...

Vastu Shastra

Similar to Feng Shui, a design philosophy and approach known as Vastu Shastra is based on teachings of the ancient scriptures of India. Introduced into the US by the American practitioners of Transcendental Meditation TM , Vastu Shastra aims to harmonize people, buildings and land. While individual homes have been built using these ancient principles, the largest commercial expression of this approach to creating healthy work and living environments is an office building in Rockville, Maryland,...

Lowflush Toilets

The current plumbing code requires toilets that use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. This standard was adopted in 1992 replacing the old limit of 3.5 gallons per flush and has not changed in 15 years, even as water problems in the US are escalating. Responding to the growing concern over excessive water use in buildings, many companies have begun to offer even lower-flush toilets and urinals. Two good examples are dual-flush valves for tankless toilets the kind you use in public places and a...