What is green building? Green building, or sustainable design, is the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water, and materials, and of reducing impacts on human health and the environment for the entire lifecycle of a building. Green-building concepts extend beyond the walls of buildings and include site planning, community and land-use planning issues as well.
Why is green building important? The growth and development of our communities has a large impact on our natural environment. The manufacturing, design, construction and operation of the buildings in which we live and work are responsible for the consumption of many of our natural resources.
In the United States, buildings account for:
• 39% of total energy use
• 68% of total electricity consumption
• 30% of landfill waste
• 38% of carbon dioxide emissions
• 12% of total water consumption
Environmental benefits of green building:
• Enhance and protect biodiversity and ecosystems
• Improve air and water quality
• Reduce waste streams
• Conserve and restore natural resources
Economic benefits of green building:
• Reduce operating costs
• Improve occupant productivity
• Enhance asset value and profits
• Optimize life-cycle economic performance
Social benefits of green building:
• Enhance occupant health and comfort
• Improve indoor air quality
• Minimize strain on local utility infrastructure
• Improve overall quality of life
Green Building Programs
• Green Built NC Homes Certification Program is a statewide residential green-building rating program administered by the WNC Green Building Council. Homes receive a rating and certificate based on third-party inspections. Contact the WNCGBC for more information.
• LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the nationally accepted rating system for commercial and institutional green buildings. The program helps establish a standard measurement for green building. Contact the U.S. Green Building Council for more information.
• Green Gauge with Home Energy Score is an innovative home-assessment tool to help homeowners save money, reduce energy usage and live in spaces that are healthier for themselves and the environment. Green Gauge uses a variety of criteria such as energy and water usage, building material sustainability, indoor air quality, site walkability and landscape ecology in order to determine how "green" a home is. The energy-efficiency portion of a Green Gauge Assessment is completed using the U.S. Department of Energy's Home Energy Score (HES). HES uses a systematic approach to provide a reliable, scientifically-based analysis of a home’s energy characteristics and overall energy efficiency, which is rated on a scale of 1 to 10. Contact the WNCGBC for more information.
Our nonprofit's site hosts a wealth of materials to support your education in green building.
Click here to visit the WNC Green Building Council's comprehensive online resource library.