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The quality of the indoor environment profoundly affects the health and productivity of building occupants. Air quality and lighting levels, off-gassing of chemicals from building materials, the growth of molds and bacteria, and temperature extremes have all been shown to negatively affect human performance and health. Moreover, these negative impacts can lead to increased costs and higher energy expenses for building owners and managers.
IEQ is a critical component of the design and management of sustainable buildings. The quality of IEQ has been shown to increase employee and tenant satisfaction, improve facility performance, and decrease energy expenses. It is also a measurable and quantifiable factor that can be used to measure the impact of a building’s sustainability program.
In this article, you will learn about the different types of contaminants that could affect Indoor Environmental Quality and the problems they can cause.
Symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome and Building-Related Illness
Various contaminants, including radon, asbestos, lead, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, mold, and bacteria, are found in most commercial and industrial buildings, causing a wide range of symptoms that can negatively impact the productivity and well-being of building occupants. Studies have shown that over half of all illness in the United States is aggravated or caused by pollutants in the indoor environment.
VOCs, Organic Contaminants and Pesticides
Many organic compounds are released into the indoor environment due to industrial manufacturing processes, combustion, and other sources. Some of these organic compounds are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs), others may be particulate organic materials (POMs), and some are halogenated.
Many of these VOCs are absorbed by the skin and inhaled, affecting the central nervous system and causing eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination; nausea; and damage to the liver, kidneys, and lung function. Some of these chemicals are also known to cause cancer.
Mold and Fungus
Mold is a common and costly problem in buildings. It is usually caused by the presence of a moisture-based problem, such as standing water, damp or wet surfaces, or poorly maintained HVAC systems. Fortunately, controlling the relative humidity level can greatly reduce the onset of mold growth.
Exposure to fungus has become a major health concern in residential and workplace environments. Several types of fungus can grow inside buildings and eat whatever they can find, including paints and other materials. They can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal problems in people with compromised immune systems.
In some cases, occupants may develop symptoms related to their exposure to fungi, such as asthma, bronchitis, or allergic rhinitis. In such cases, it is essential to investigate and treat the source of the problem.
Asbestos is another toxic material that can be present in the indoor environment and is found in various materials, particularly those exposed to fire or water. Asbestos is a potential health risk and should be treated as soon as it is discovered in a building.
Water efficiency is one of the most important Green Building strategies. It can help you save energy, reduce environmental impacts, and protect the world’s water supply. Water is a vital resource used for many purposes, including showering, washing dishes, flushing toilets, and even watering your garden. But we all know that water resources are limited, and there is a need to minimize water waste.
In order to conserve water, you need to understand how to design a sustainable building. By understanding the different methods of water conservation, you can design an environmentally friendly building that is more efficient in all aspects.
Calculate the water usage
The first step is to calculate your building’s water use. This is done by tracking all fixtures and appliances that use water. Once you know how much water is used, you can choose the most efficient fixtures for each space.
You can also track your building’s water usage with a water monitor that shows real-time information on the amount of water used by each fixture or appliance. This is important because it helps people to make more informed decisions about their water usage habits.
This information can then be used to inform users of water-efficient options, such as low-flow faucets and showerheads. Using water-efficient fixtures can help your building save up to 20% on its overall water consumption.
Reuse soiled greywater and install filters
Other strategies for reducing water use include reusing soiled greywater and installing filtration systems to reduce bacteria in potable water. These techniques can also help your building be more energy efficient.
A common method for reusing greywater is installing greywater recycling systems that collect and treat wastewater from kitchens, sinks, and showers. This water is then reused in flush fixtures and can help you save up to 15% of your water usage.
Install rainwater harvesting systems
Another method for reducing water use in your building is to install rainwater harvesting systems. This is a simple way to store and collect rainwater that can then be used for irrigation, flushing toilets, or other uses that require water.
Use a net zero water strategy
Lastly, you can use a net zero water strategy to reduce water use. This means that your building’s annual water use should be completely offset by alternative water sources, plus treated wastewater and stormwater that has been returned to the original water source.
To sum it up
Using water-efficient fixtures, reusing greywater and stormwater, and designing for net zero water are all effective water efficiency methods. In fact, you can achieve a platinum level in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program by designing for these types of buildings. In addition to implementing these strategies, you can encourage people to reduce their water usage by making it more visible. The Prius Effect is a concept that states that when people are informed about their water usage, they will be more likely to change their habits.
With more and more negative PR surrounding global warming and pollution than ever before, it’s never been more important to make eco-friendly paving solutions part of your business and home maintenance routine. By switching to environmentally friendly paving products, you can help decrease your own personal impact on the environment and endear your property to clients and guests alike.
A few simple steps can help to ensure that your paved spaces are as earth-friendly as possible while also maintaining the integrity of the area and meeting local and national environmental regulations. Here are just a few things to consider:
Changing the Asphalt Surface
Using low-VOC, bio-based, PAH-free asphalt sealants is one of the easiest ways you can reduce your own personal impact on the environment while still keeping your driveways and other asphalt surfaces in great condition. They’re great for repairing or resealing driveways, parking lots, golf cart paths, and any other hard-surfaced areas that need to be kept in tip-top shape.
Installing Permeable Pavers, Pervious Concrete or Pervance Asphalt
Increasingly strict state and local environmental regulations have made it more appealing to businesses and organizations to limit stormwater runoff by installing green, permeable alternatives to standard pavements. By decreasing the amount of runoff and limiting the need for catch basin installation line items on-site, these paving options can save property owners both money and hassle.
You can avoid requiring expensive, underground water-retention ponds by installing permeable or porous pavements such as pavers, porous asphalt, or pervious concrete. This allows you to meet your natural resources requirements without breaking the bank, said Mike Dickey of Presto Geosystems in Wisconsin.
Switching to a green, permeable, or pervance asphalt alternative can cost more per square foot than standard blacktop, but there are many financial benefits to this type of paving solution.
Lowering Fuel Consumption
Reducing the fuel consumption of trucks, buses, and cars is a key factor in reducing energy costs for both the company and consumers. Studies have shown that a truck traveling on concrete pavement instead of asphalt will use 4% to 6% less gas to complete the same distance.
Providing More Reflectivity (Albedo) For World Cooling
By changing the color and reflectivity of the pavement, you can help to offset greenhouse gases that are produced by burning coal or oil for electricity production, transportation, and other industrial processes. By increasing the albedo of pavement, you’re also helping to mitigate urban heat islands and the smog they cause.
These pavements can be used in roadways, parking lots, highways, and other paved areas and can improve traffic flow, decrease vehicle emissions, improve pedestrian safety, and increase visibility. They can also contribute to global cooling by absorbing solar energy and reflecting it back into space.
LEED is a third-party green certification assigned to high-performance green buildings as a token of appreciation for taking the initiative to do better for the environment. While the design principles of LEED are easy to implement on buildings under construction, the process needs a different approach to the existing buildings. It is impossible to bend certain rules for existing buildings and retrofit from the policies of the new buildings.
One of the main focuses of LEED certifications for existing buildings is maintenance and operation, which is easier to implement when compared to building with different sustainable materials.
Prerequisites of LEED for existing buildings
According to field experts, nine prerequisites are necessary to bag a LEED certification for existing buildings. However, there are other additional methods by which building owners can increase the points of acquiring certifications. The categories for the prerequisites are:
- Sustainable sites of the building
- Water efficiency
- Resources and materials
- Energy and atmosphere around the building
- Innovative steps in conserving energy
- Indoor environmental quality
- Regional Priority credits
Although not every category mentioned above has prerequisites, some have several, which are often difficult to fulfill for house owners.
The prerequisites for LEED certifications are:
- The minimum amount of plumbing and fixtures used is better, and their working efficiency also plays a significant role.
- Practices for the management of energy and efficiency and how the house owner takes measures to conserve maximum energy
- The minimum amount of energy efficiency performance
- The tactics are undertaken for fundamental refrigerant management and steps to prevent overconsumption of electricity.
- Sustainable purchasing policies for different construction materials and resources
- Solid waste management policies
- The minimum IAAQ performance to check the indoor environmental quality
- Tobacco smoke control in the indoor environment
- Employing green cleaning policies to keep surroundings clean
If a building owner wants a LEED certificate, it is important to stick to all the abovementioned points. By missing one point, they could lose the chance to get the certification.
Time is taken for LEED certifications.
Getting a LEED certification for an existing building will take time. Hence owners need to be patient, both during and after the process. The inspection, paperwork, and other processes will take at least a year, and another year will be utilized for post-certification and post-inspection procedures.\
Obtaining an energy star rating should also be of prime importance during this time. Once a building owner has the rating, they can start making other critical improvements to the building and start with their performance monitoring phase, which is essential in getting and keeping the LEED certificate. While some people hire experts to guide them, others figure it out using courses and online information.
It is a no-brainer that the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere significantly harms the environment. Decarbonizing the atmosphere is one of the crucial aspects of climate change, which also has the potential to develop millions of green jobs.
Green jobs are defined as jobs that are directly aimed at creating awareness and protecting the environment. According to the 2021 Report by Emission Gap, the earth’s temperature is expected to rise by 2.7 degrees by the end of the decade. Hence, immediate attention to the environment in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases is essential to limit the effects of global warming. If we fail to do so, the disastrous effect on the environment seen so far will increase twofold.
What are green jobs?
The UNEP defines green jobs as positions or jobs in manufacturing, agriculture, administrative offices, R&D, and other service activities aimed at substantially preserving and restoring the equality of the environment. These jobs have a direct impact on reducing the effects of greenhouse gases. According to the ILO (International Labor Organization), the job:
- Increases and promotes the efficient use of raw material and thereby help in energy conservation
- Limits the emission of greenhouse gases
- Minimizes the waste and contamination of the surrounding areas
- Helps in protecting and restoring the environment
- Contributes in different ways to adapt to climate change and decreases further change in the climate.
- Helps in building and enhancing the global economy.
Booming sectors in green jobs
The decarbonization employed by the green jobs will help develop a much sustained and circular economy and help existing jobs to employ more sustainable methods to run their businesses. The sectors which will benefit from green jobs are:
2019-2021 Covid-19 pandemic put a lot of pressure on supply chains and the structure of energy development and consumption, drastically impacting the global economy. Moreover, this sudden and drastic change has negatively affected the employment sector. Hence, developing new green jobs will not only help move to use renewable energy from fossil fuels but also increase the chances of employment in the field.
According to reports, the sales of organic food products, including fruits and vegetables, have dramatically improved to 15% globally. The pandemic, along with the growing concerns of people in health and the environment, has increased the consumption of organic produce, with North America and Europe being big players in the organic agricultural industry.
70% of global emissions come from road transport. Green jobs help in minimizing this number and significantly improve air quality. This means shifting to using electric vehicles, using public transport, and better career opportunities in the field of automobiles.
When it comes to constructing an environmentally friendly home, there are many different sorts of materials to pick from. Additionally energy-efficient, these eco-friendly products help reduce your energy costs. They ought to be strong, recyclable, and harmless.
Wood is one of the most widely used green building materials. This substance is simple to work with, durable, and appealing. Because of its durability, less maintenance may be required. Additionally, because it uses few resources and can lower hazardous emissions, it is particularly environmentally beneficial. Additionally, wood can keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Reclaimed wood is one type of wood that can be used for furniture, walls, or flooring. Reclaimed wood also requires less upkeep and has a smaller environmental impact than new materials.
Bamboo is another common eco-friendly material. Bamboo is a naturally occurring renewable resource. It has high insulating qualities and is lightweight and simple to harvest. The building’s construction has a smaller negative impact on the environment since the fibers from the bamboo stem decompose into the soil as it grows.
Steel is another eco-friendly building material. Steel constructions use much fewer natural resources to create than wooden ones and are almost entirely recyclable. Steel is a highly durable alternative to wood for framing. Steel can also be recycled to create other building components like rebar.
Polyurethane rigid foam
Foam made of stiff polyurethane is another excellent material. Because it is made of plants, this foam is biodegradable and recyclable. In addition to being flexible and strong, it offers protection from extreme cold and hot temperatures.
Another well-liked sustainable building material is cork. Cork is a natural mold-resistant and hypoallergenic insulator. Additionally, it comes from a sustainable and ethical source, making it a green choice. Cork is resilient and has the option of being refinished if necessary. And finally, it is hypoallergenic, making it a wonderful option for those with allergies.
Straw bale is another well-liked ecological building material. These building materials are excellent options if you want to construct a clean and environmentally responsible home. You should be aware, though, that not everyone is a good fit for all of these materials.
Soil, water, and organic materials
Cob houses are constructed using a traditional method of combining clay, water, and organic elements. Despite not being common in modern society, they are rediscovering their popularity. Cob architecture is more time-consuming than traditional construction but cheaper and simpler.
To sum up
In addition to enhancing your health and well-being, using these environmentally friendly building materials can raise the value of your house. You can start by modifying your current home even if you aren’t ready to spend money on a new one. To enhance the look and feel of your home, you can incorporate these materials into your new design.
You might want to think about getting green construction insurance if you’re planning to construct a new house or an addition to your current residence. A new kind of insurance called “green building insurance” can shield you from environmental risks and weather-related catastrophes. It can aid in the construction of more energy-efficient structures and rebuilding in the event of a loss. Many businesses provide discounted prices for constructing a green structure. There are numerous justifications for this.
More beneficial as green building construction is on the rise
The construction of green buildings is anticipated to increase. According to a report by McGraw-Hill Construction, renewable energy is being used in an increasing number of commercial construction projects. Countless property owners are also looking for strategies to reduce their energy expenditures. This can be accomplished by using environmentally friendly equipment or designing a more energy-efficient structure.
More discounts and financial incentives
Insurance companies are launching additional solutions to cover this trend now that they know the advantages of green construction. For green buildings, several insurers are providing specific incentives and discounts. Others offer financial incentive insurance that pays the insured back for rebates they earn for bringing their properties up to code in terms of sustainability.
It will help save your investment
Green building techniques boost energy efficiency and save carbon emissions while safeguarding your future investment. Additionally, it can lower building dangers and increase the security of your property. It can also offer many advantages, such as shielding your home from storm damage.
To create a more eco-friendly building
Many insurers also offer green risk management consulting to support businesses in reducing their energy usage and carbon emissions. This enables them to choose the best green technologies and implementation tactics. These remedies frequently reduce their carbon impact and enhance indoor air quality. Additionally, they can increase their production and profitability.
Improve the image of your company
Implementing a green building can benefit your company’s reputation and save money. You may entice more tenants dedicated to sustainability by making your building green. The movement does have some drawbacks, though. A new green building is more time-consuming than a conventional one. Second, the age of your building will influence its risk. More serious losses are likely to occur if the building is older. Additionally, novel structures produce better underwriting outcomes.
Cover the entire rebuild
In contrast to traditional insurance plans, green insurance will pay for the full reconstruction of your facility in case of a claim. It can also help pay for alternative energy systems in addition to eco-friendly building materials and systems. You might be able to buy a green roof based on your insurance policy.
Green building insurance is not a “one size fits all” answer, but it can be a terrific strategy to reduce your risks. Some policies could have a coinsurance clause, greater policy limitations, or both. Examine your current property insurance coverage to see if you abide by these rules. To confirm that you are receiving the appropriate level of coverage, you should also verify with your insurance company.
The sustainability market is expanding. It is predicted to rise by 8% between now and 2030. This is encouraging news for individuals who are thinking about a career in this field. There are many well-paying opportunities in this field, although the profession is still in its infancy.
What is sustainable energy?
Developing and using renewable and sustainable energy sources are the main topics in the field of sustainable energy. These may include geothermal, hydro, wind, and solar energy sources. Consumers are growing more and more interested in renewable energy. According to a recent poll by the Environmental Defence Fund, 93% of corporate executives believe that their clients would hold them responsible for the environmental consequences of their decisions.
Requirements for a job in a green sustainable, and alternative energy field
Numerous sustainable professions demand a thorough understanding of the energy industry, substantial education, and environmental commitment. While some jobs simply need a high school diploma, others call for a college degree. Some professions, like those in the oil and gas industry, might offer a consistent income. There are numerous opportunities for people interested in alternative kinds of energy.
Career options in the field
There are several possibilities available for those wanting a long-lasting career. You can cooperate with the environment, develop environmentally friendly automobiles, and even use renewable energy. However, think about the qualities you are searching for in a job before you start your search. Finding a career that complements your talents and interests is crucial. Consider your home as well. It might be ideal to live in a region with more demand for green occupations if you want to pursue a career as an environmentalist.
Agricultural and food scientist
One of the most important roles in the sustainability field is that of an agricultural and food scientist. Agricultural and food scientists can develop novel processes for creating these goods and contribute to producing more morally and nutritionally sound food. To find out how items can be more effective, they test them and do field research.
Jobs in engineering and environmental science field
Other career paths include environmental science and engineering. Analyzing how environmental issues affect various sectors is a component of jobs in this profession. People in this field may work for non-profit groups, governmental bodies, or businesses engaged in science.
Renewable energy industry
There are more jobs available in the field of renewable energy. Public support for solar and wind energy is growing, and job opportunities are promising. Additionally, there are employment prospects in the oil, gas, and petroleum industries.
Solar investment analyst
Solar investment analysts represent yet another fascinating career path for those working in the renewable energy industry. A master’s degree and at least five years of professional experience in the field are prerequisites for those who desire to fill this position. Those who aren’t sure about their career choice might consider working as an intern or an entry-level job. It is a terrific approach to learning more about the field, and there are many opportunities to get trained in it.
The world we live in today is drastically exposed to different types of harmful chemicals, and other harmful elements in the atmosphere are causing a severe threat to the global temperature,
leading to global warming. Many steps are being taken in the right direction to reduce its impact, one among which is the green building systems.
Green building systems are part of building sectors that help reduce their contribution to global warming and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. According to a recent study conducted in 2020, over 35% of the carbon dioxide emissions are from building sectors causing great damage to the environment.
Green buildings follow a more sustainable approach to building quality buildings, which not only prevent the harm caused to the environment, but also help in improving the quality of life.
Components of a green building
There are seven essential components of a green building that help in achieving their goals to build a more sustainable living environment.
Energy is one of the most used components in the world, which is used to power appliances and aid in day-to-day activities. However, over the years, the use of renewable resources has caused depletion in resource availability. Hence, green buildings use non-renewable resources like water, wind, and solar, which are also widely affordable.
One of the best ways green buildings save water is by installing water-efficient appliances like drought-resistance plant systems, efficient irrigation systems, efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances, and many others. They also replace the roof with asphalt or other turfs with porous materials to soak up and save rainwater. These are called green roofs and are the most efficient systems in green buildings, which help in water storage and conservation.
Indoor air quality plays a direct role in impacting the resident’s health and comfort. By working on essential factors like the choice of materials, design, architecture, and coordination among the building teams, it is possible to enhance indoor air quality. Also, green buildings possess an excellent ventilation system by monitoring for timely maintenance. Furthermore, they ensure to avoid harmful substances as much as possible.
Green building rating systems
The construction of any building has a considerable impact on nature. Hence, these rating systems help mitigate the harmful effects caused to the environment by providing measurement, encouragement, and recognition of the best and the most sustainable building practices.
The first green building rating system was built in 1990 to ensure the sustainable design factors of green buildings. After the increase in popularity and efficiency, many others followed suit. Now, various certification programs help determine green buildings. They are:
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
- Energy Star
- Green Globes
- National Green building standard
Even if you’re not directly involved in the design or construction of your home, there are still ways that you can make it greener. By making small changes around the house—and on your commute and at work—you can reduce your carbon footprint by 20 percent or more over time. Here are some ways that people can do this:
Replace Incandescent Light Bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Ones
Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about one-quarter as much energy as incandescent light bulbs and last about 10 times longer. They are also less expensive than incandescent lights.
The problem with compact fluorescents is that they contain mercury, which makes them a hazard when disposed of improperly. If you can’t recycle the bulbs yourself, it’s best to take them back to the store where you purchased them (or contact the manufacturer), so they can be properly disposed of at no charge.
Install a Programmable Thermostat on Your Heating and Cooling Systems
Programmable thermostats control the temperature of your home or office. They allow you to set different temperatures at different times of day, and they can be adjusted remotely. These devices can also save money on heating and cooling costs by automatically switching off when no one is home.
Wash Clothes in Cold Water
Cold water is just as effective as hot water, so there’s no need to run the water any hotter than you need it.
Using cold water saves energy and money, which helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions and preventing landfills from overflowing with plastic bottles.
It’s better for your clothes—they don’t get shrunk or damaged like they might in hot temperatures!
Boost the Insulation in Your Attic and the Walls of Your House
Insulation is a key element in making a house more energy efficient. Adding insulation to your attic and walls can help keep heat in during winter months and cold air out during summer months.
Install Solar Panels on the Roof of Your House
Solar panels are a great way to reduce energy bills and make your house more environmentally friendly. However, solar panels do require an initial investment before they can start saving you money. If you don’t have the cash, it might be worth waiting until you can afford the investment before installing them.
Dispose of Paint, Batteries, Plastics and other Hazardous Materials in a Responsible Way
Don’t pour paint down the drain. This can cause a clog, and it’s not good for the environment. Instead, take old paint to your local hazardous waste disposal center or paint recycler (you can find one near you by searching online).
Don’t put batteries in the trash. Batteries contain toxic materials that may leak into soil and groundwater if disposed of properly. Instead, find out if your city offers a recycling program for batteries—if not, check with local retailers about their battery recycling policies and options.
Don’t put hazardous materials in your recycling bin or garbage can—they don’t belong there! A better solution is to take them to an e-waste drop-off site (where you’ll be able to recycle electronics responsibly) or ship them back to manufacturers for proper disposal/recycling, if possible, based on their instructions (some companies require proof that products were purchased from them).