The impact we have on the earth is growing, and we must find new ways to limit our footprint. Since our population is expected to grow in the next thirty years, finding new ways to build sustainably is a way to help our environment before it’s too late. In fact, population growth will lead to a higher demand for water, energy, and natural resources that will threaten our planet. 

A field that has been growing for years to counter this is green construction. Although there’s no clear definition of what a green building is, we can generally say that it’s a sustainable building which originated from the concept of sustainable development. As Kilbert suggests, it’s a “healthy facility designed and built in a resource-efficient manner, using ecologically based principles.” Choosing to build green has many benefits that range from health to finances.

Green buildings are designed to look like “normal” buildings. However, they have some unique characteristics. 

Environmental benefits

There are small choices that we can make to help our planet. One of these choices is deciding to invest in green buildings instead of non-green ones. By doing so, we can help our environment in many ways.

Economic benefits

Choosing more sustainable ways to build houses isn’t only beneficial for the environment, but also for our finances. 

One of the main benefits of building green is saving costs. Choosing to build green helps us reduce water and energy consumption, resulting in less money spent on bills. Statistically, green houses consume 30-50% less energy and water than conventional houses; this percentage increases to 60% if we look at the Australian market. This is because this kind of building has better insulated walls which help cut down cooling and heating costs throughout the year.

In addition to short-term savings, green houses have the potential to save us money long term. In fact, apart from the initial investments, the maintenance costs are significantly less than what is normally spent for a non-green building. As highlighted in the Kats report, with a small increase of 2% in initial costs, we’d be able to save 20% of the total costs in the long run.

Health and social benefits

Not only does choosing to build green help our finances and planet, it can also help us improve our social health and our wellbeing.

One of the best outcomes of green houses is improved indoor air quality (IAQ). This value is influenced by air quality, ventilation, temperature control, natural lighting, and furniture quality. A study highlighted the differences in indoor air quality between green and non-green buildings. The results of the study confirmed that, when people choose to renovate their houses, the IAQ value changes significantly. Before and after the renovations of the houses the participants of the study lived in, there was a significant reduction in the levels of black carbon — an air pollutant responsible for climate change and many health problems, such as strokes, bronchitis, heart attacks, and other respiratory diseases. However, this study also highlighted that, apart from the renovation, the daily choices of the families have an impact on IAQ. Keeping the good habit of opening the windows every day proved to be useful in improving indoor air quality.

When it comes to the workplace, improved IAQ equals higher levels of productivity. Since poor IAQ leads to health problems, such as allergies, sneezing, drowsiness, and tiredness, it can cause distress and therefore affect productivity. A study conducted on a group of employees calculated the levels of wellbeing and productivity after they moved from a non-green office to a green one. Results highlighted that the levels of headaches, coughs, throat irritations, and blurring vision significantly dropped after the move. This led to a reduction in absenteeism and an increase in the productivity levels of the team.

Changing our house

Changing our house to a green building isn’t easy. As we’ve seen at the beginning of the article, the characteristics of a green house are many. However, we can try to change one thing at a time — maybe we can start by implementing a solar panel system — and then build our way towards our dream home. 

It’s the small and smart choices that matter the most in our life. Undoubtedly, when it comes to our houses, we have to consider whether we want to invest a higher amount of money or not, but we have to ponder the outcomes of our choices, too. The most important thing, however, is to be informed about all the possibilities that surround us and choose how to act consequently and consciously.