Green Buildings Merged Pages

Dr. Pence's comments are in red. This set of pages is generally well written, but it's apparent that they were written independently because the format is not consistent throughout. They are a good start, though.

Specific Comments

  • It's important to think about navigating when you are building your wiki. I realize it's hard to change a few things when you aren't the organizer and therefore you can't manage the pages, but that means that when you create a page, it's extremely important to name it appropriately and to spell it correctly.
  • Be careful about the results of studies. They need to appear in the peer-reviewed literature, which will mean some kind of journal.
  • The references are not in the proper format.
  • Generally good use of illustrations. (Leed obviously has some limitations.) Make sure that they are woven into the text and include both the URL AND a caption so they are more than window dressing

What is Green Building?

Green building involves using resources efficiently and effectively while minimizing the building’s impact on human health as well as the environment. Three main goals of green building include decreasing environmental impact through the use of green chemistry in building materials, innovating by using resources such as air and water more efficiently, and by ultimately improving human health. The various methods and advantages of green building are exemplfied through the numerous environmental buildings in the United States. Environmental buildings can be certified through the Leadership and Energy Environmental Design Green Building Rating System (LEED), the accepted standard in environmental contstruction.

The Need for Green Building
One of the main reasons for the purpose of green building is to conserve resources by using them more effectively. According to the Energy Information Association, buildings consume 40% of the total amount of energy in the United States (Cassar, 2008).
In terms of waste, the Environmental Protection Agency reports 136 million tons of waste generated by U.S. buildings. Even though 85% of this is reusable, only 20% is currently recycled (Unknown, 2008). In terms of water, 12.2% of the total water in the U.S. per day is consumed by buildings.
The EPA reports that buildings account for 38% of the total carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, thus increasing the detrimental effects of global warming.
All of these areas of study exemplify the huge impact buildings have on the environment and the increasing levels of resource consumption in the United States.

Methods of Green Building
Some of the main ideas for reducing energy levels in buildings involve utilizing maximal solar heat during the winter and minimizing solar heat in the summer through passive solar design. This building technique uses principles like thermodynamics, convection, and thermal radiation to strategically places vents and windows in areas of residential buildings that maximize ventilation. This can eliminate or significantly reduce the need for mechanical systems of ventilation like traditional air-conditioning or heating systems. Other green building practices include residential windows facing the sun during the winter and using proper shading during the summer. Tree-shade effects along with other shading devices like fences, shudders, and shrubbery can also be used. Certain building materials like bamboo have proven to be extremely sustainable and renewable in LEED certified green construction. Thermal insulation of walls and windows is helpful in eliminating unwanted heat transfer through tiny cracks and holes in walls and ceilings.

Green roofs are a major growing contribution to green building. A green roof has a soil component grown over a waterproof material. Not only can fruit and vegetables be grown on them, but the green roofs can absorb nearly 75% of rainwater (Unknown, 2000). During times of heavy rainstorms, the runoff of water from roofs can be high. Green roofs, however, reduce this runoff and threrefore decrease levels of flooding by absorbing and then slowly releasing the water through condensation. {Really? through condensation?} During this process, the soil or vegetative component of the green roof retains the air pollutants, sort of like a sponge, so that they cannot be released into the atmosphere. An interesting phenomenon is the urban heat island effect, which is the idea of an urban city being warmer than its nearby rural areas due to excess heat release from energy resources. {Go a little further with the urban heat island effect to explain it more completely.} The green roof helps resist this phenomenon because of its cooling effect that shows a significant difference than the traditional rooftop, which absorbs sunlight and re-emits it as heat, thus making a city nearly 4 degrees Celsius warmer than its surroundings. The Chicago City Hall building, which contains a green roof, has roof temperatures 14-44 degrees lower than surrounding buildings (Unknown, 2000).

Other methods used for green power that conserve energy and reduce energy costs of buildings include the many types of renewable resources such as wind, solar, and hydro power. The main purpose of wind power that is relevant to green building is the conversion of wind into electricity through wind turbines. Specifically, the wind turns the blades on the turbine and converts kinetic energy into mechanical energy, which generates electricity. A reason why wind power is a desirable alternative is because it does not require fuel and therefore emits none of the harmful environmental gases like carbon dioxide or other air pollutants. By purchasing a 10kW wind turbine, 1.2 tons of air pollutants and 250 tons of greenhouse gases will be spared through out the course of the turbines operation (Cassar, 2008).
A solar thermal system is another method of green building that basically consists of a solar collector that can be located on the roof of a building and can transfer the heat from sunlight to a hot water tank. Since heat from the sunlight naturally decreases the need for gases necessary to create hot water, this technique not only spares tons of carbon dioxide emissions, but reduces the overall electric costs. The solar heating system is a popular method used in Hawaii. $90 million in electricity bills and 1.35 million barrels of imported oil are saved over the course of the operating system, which is enough oil to supply electricity to Honolulu for two full months (Apte, 2003).

Solar Thermal Energy

Advantages of Green Building
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, an initial investment of $100,000 to incorporate green building features into a $5 million dollar project would result in savings of at least $1 million over the life of the building (Katz, 2009).Not only does green building incorporate energy and water efficient technologies while reducing environmental impact and improving long-term economic prosperity, but it also influences the health and performance of workers and students. For example, since green building involves building bigger windows and allowing the maximum amount of sunlight to be utilized, not only does this reduce electricity cost by conserving energy, but it can also influence a student’s performance in school. A case study that was conducted by PG&E measured the long term effects of natural lighting used in green schools. They concluded that classrooms with well-designed skylight {plural} helped improve test scores 19-20% faster than classrooms without the optimal windows and lighting (Rosenburg, 2003). More specifically, multiple years of schooling in daylit classrooms improved math and verbal scores 11-17%.
Another advantage of green building is its stimulation of the economy in terms of employment opportunities. Because of the current recession our economy faces today, there has been more focus on investing in green building and infrastructure. A study done by Political Economy Research shows that green building jobs are increasing and that a national green economic recovery plan investing $100 Billion over ten years for 6 infrastructure plans will create $2 millions jobs (Katz, 2009).

Works Cited

Apte, Joshua. “Future Advanced Windows for Zero-Energy Homes.” (Apr. 2003).

Cassar, Chris. “Electric Power Flash.” Energy Information Association. (Jul. 2008).
Katz, Ashley. “National Study Shows Green Building as Key part of America’s Economic Future.” U.S. Green Building Council. (Jan. 2009).
Rosenburg, Lorna. “Benefits of Green Buildings.” Environmental Protection Agency. (Mar. 2003). {I wouldn't use tinyurls in references- it's better to be able to see the whole string to have a sense of the actual source. Also, these are slides from a presentation. There is no indication of the original source of the information about the improved test scores in schools, which makes the data a bit sketchy}
Unknown author. “Here Comes Urban Heat.” Science @ Nasa. (Mar, 2000).
Unknown author.“Why Build Green.” Environmental Protection Agency. (April, 2008).

{This section is generally well-written and informative. The references need to be fixed, and it should be in a format consistent with the other sections. When I put all the pages together, you can see that they aren't visually consistent.}

Page 2: Green Buildings in the United States

{Good start at organization, but you need to frame the information that you are presenting. Even with the overall intro, this section should also have an intro to get into the material.}

  1. Greensburg, Kansas - The city that is going Green
  2. Other Examples of Green buildings in the United States
    • EPA Headquarters Facility - Arlington, Virginia
    • New England Regional Laboratory – Chelmsford, Massachusetts
    • Research Triangle Park – Durham Country, North Carolina
      • Main Building
      • First Environments Early Learning Center
  3. References

Greensburg, Kansas: One town, one mission: Go Green!

On May 4, 2007 the town of Greensburg Kansas was struck by an EF5 tornado. The tornado, which was over a mile and a half wide and with estimated winds of 205 miles per hour, destroyed ninety-five percent of the town.

Greensburg after EF5 tornado

In the aftermath of the tornado, residents were faced with the question – move or rebuild? Many residents collectively chose to rebuild to LEED platinum certification, turning Greensburg into a Green Town.

Through the planning process, the city incorporated goals for energy, emissions, and water use. These goals for energy include {tense shift} building homes and businesses at least forty percent above standing state building codes, using the ample wind supply as another source of energy and implementing the use of high efficiency appliances and light bulbs including the use of LED lit streetlights. The city is also encouraging residents to use electric or hybrid vehicles as well as electric or hybrid vehicles for public transportation to cut back on CO2 {need to learn subscripts} emissions. The goals for water use not only include reducing water consumption through methods such as capturing storm water for non potable use, but by also improving water quality through natural filtration of water that goes back to the Ogallala aquifer, which is where the city pulls water from.

Solar house in Greensburg Kansas

“By building new homes, schools and businesses that consume far fewer resources, increase productivity, and improve human health, it is possible to create a model community; an example of a sustainable rural prosperity.” -

Examples of Green Buildings in the United States:
EPA Headquarters Facility – Arlington, Virginia

This building is just one of many EPA headquarters. Attributes that make this building green are the LEED-NC 2.1 Gold certification, the LEED-EB 2.0 Gold certification, the use of Green power, and meeting the expectations of Energy Star performance standards.

New England Regional Laboratory – Chelmsford, Massachusetts
The New England Regional Laboratory is home to the Office of Environmental Measurement and Evaluation, which is responsible for laboratory analysis of environmental samples. Attributes that make this building green are its LEED 1.0 gold certification, its use of Green power, and the buildings use of a water management plan.

Research Triangle Park – Durham Country, North Carolina Main Building:
The main building at the Research Triangle Park is only one of many buildings in the complex that comprise 157 organizations. Attributes of the main building that qualify it for green standings are the use of Green power, re-commissioned wings, and native landscaping. The building also used green building material and works toward water conservation and capturing runoff for other uses.

First Environments Early Learning Center: (FEELC)

The child care center opened in November of 2005 and grants employees of Research Triangle Park a place for onsite childcare. Attributes that qualify the FEELC building for green standings include LEED-NC 2.1 silver certification, the use of Green power, and native landscaping.

City of Greensburg, Kansas. The Offical Site of Greensburg, Kansas.
City of Greensburg, Kansas. Vision Plan.

Greensburg Green Town. Welcome to Greensburg Green Town. Aerials of Greensburg Tornado Damage.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Greening EPA.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Greening EPA.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Greening EPA.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Greening EPA.

{The references are not according to the standard and they should be cited throughout the text.}


Page 3: LEED Certification

The USGBC (US Green Building Council) is an organization that is attempting to further the agenda of sustainability though construction. A non-profit group composed of over 15,000 smaller organizations, the USGBC is attempting to create a system where buildings are built as environmentally conscious {ly} as possible while still allowing them to function. This process extends from the materials that physically compose the structures to the infrastructure and community that surround it. One of their major accomplishments has been the LEED certification system that guides people in how to construct environmentally sustainable structures and rewards them with many degrees of certification.

LEED, which was first implemented in 1998, was designed to push the environmental agenda by creating a system that rates the construction and operation of buildings as to what effect it has on the environment. These ratings would be used to bestow qualifying structures with one of four different levels of certification so they could be honored and possibly rewarded for their efforts. There are different categories for certification, such as a new constructions, existing structures, entire communities, and even special cases such as K-12 school systems.

The process of applying for LEED certification is now an electronic application that can be completed at their website. The certification can be done before the project is underway and the certification can help with starting the project. Certain states such as Nevada, as well as specific local governments across the country have passed legislation such that certified projects can get rewarded for their efforts to minimize environmental impact. Such perks include reduced taxes on the raw materials needed to construct the structure, faster permitting, or a density bonus. Services such as hotels can also attain certification in order to attempt to generate increased business by people that {who} wish to lodge more environmentally. There is also a certain amount of press value gained by being honored certain media including the LEED website itself.

While there are certain requirements that are important enough to be required for certification, such as maintaining a minimum energy performance, the majority of the certification is modular. The evaluation process is a checklist, with each criterion worth a specific number of points. There are four thresholds, and receiving enough points to pass it {vague reference} rewards you with another level of certification. In the new construction category, the number of points needed to secure certification is 26, yet silver, gold, and platinum certification is graded upon reaching 33, 39, and 52 points respectively. The total number of points is 69, consisting of 64 primary points and up to a possible 5 points for extra innovation above and beyond the core criteria. Other categories, such as residential homes or existing structures, follow a slightly different rule set.

Categories of the LEED New Construction Rating System:

Sustainable sites: (14 total points)
This category focuses on building in places that are least harmful to the environment, specifically in cities, or downtown areas, places with access to public transportation, and bike and pedestrian availability. It aims to minimize environmental impact of buildings by keeping construction services as close to the main structure as possible such that surrounding ecosystems are unharmed. Also contains points for minimizing light pollution, heat differences, and storm-water runoff. {fragment sentence}

Water efficiency: (5 total points)
The goal of the water efficiency points is to reduce harm to the natural water near the structure, eliminating it from use for irrigation. It also looks to reduce the amount of wastewater created through the structure. Points are also awarded for using toilets and sinks which use minimal water.

Energy and Atmosphere: (17 total points)
Reducing energy usage is one of the most important ways to become less environmentally harmful, and as such up to 10 points can be awarded for reducing energy consumption up to 42% from baseline values making this section the largest single source of points in the scorecard. Other points are added for CFC elimination from refrigeration units, {no comma} and use of on site renewable energy.

Materials and Resources: (13 total points)
Using already built structures to reduce material cost, using recycled materials, using local materials, and using certified wood all yield points to keep the materials cost of the structure to a minimum. { nice parallel structure} Other points in this section come from establishing a recycling center on site to deal with easily recyclable materials and reducing the waste associated with construction.

Indoor Environment Quality: (15 total points)
Keeping the air quality at a reasonable level at all stages from construction to final use are {should be "is" to agree with "keeping"} a source of points. This {vague- this what?} also suggests using flooring, paints, and other materials that do no emit harmful air born particles. Containing any on-site hazardous chemicals or pollutants is also on the checklist. Keeping natural lighting and heat to comfortable levels also yields points.

Innovation: (5 possible points)
Bonus points can be given upon request for additional sources of positive environmental impact that are not otherwise covered in the scorecard. Up to 5 points can be assigned depending on the degree to which these requests are permitted as valid.

Link to full scorecard

Costs and Rewards:

The major deterrent to making all buildings fit the criteria of LEED certification is upfront cost. Many who are in the process of constructing a building may steer away from the criteria needed to achieve certification due to the increased expenses that are needed to finance those improvements. According to the Green Building Finance Consortium the average increase in cost needed to acquire the first level of certification is only 0.8%. Simelarly, the average increase for Silver is 3.5%, 4.5% for gold, and 11.5% for platinum.2

Examples of LEED certification in use:

In 2004 the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed an order to make the state go greener. Part of the order dealt with forcing all new construction for state buildings over 10,000 square feet to acquire a LEED certification of at least Silver.1 {OK, I'm having trouble as well with superscripts and subscripts, but I'd recomennd square or curly brackets to indicate that you are doing references.}

{References are not in standard format}

Page 4: Green Power:
Green power is energy that is obtained through renewable sources and also has little effect on the environment. Common sources of green power include: {Your instinct for an intro here is quite appropriate. It could be expanded a little to indicate that you have a brief overview of these topics.}

1. Geothermal
Geothermal power is obtained through wells drilled into geothermal reservoirs that are below the earth’s surface. A geothermal power plant can then convert the hot water or steam that was in the reservoir to energy. Geothermal reservoirs are also used on a smaller scale to heat homes and other areas.
Downfalls {I think you mean more like disadvantages} to this type of power come mostly from the research it takes geologists and other scientists to find geothermal reservoirs.

2. Hydro and Wind
Energy obtained through water and wind sources have {the plurals and singulars here are really messy. I try to write around the problem whenever I can.} the same basic principle behind them. Either wind or water is used to turn a turbine which then creates electricity that can be stored for later use.


Downfalls to using wind for power: {Same downfall point here}
Wind power is collected through the use of wind turbines which are large and needed in quantity to obtain a useful amount of power from the wind. The amount of power that is obtained is also irregular due to the irregularities in wind and wind strength.
Downfalls for using water to generate electricity:
Hydroelectric power on a large scale needs a damn for water to run through to get power. Creating a damn, like the construction of the Hoover Dam, floods the land and destroys the habitats of creatures living upstream from the dam.

3. Solar
Solar power uses special panels that capture energy in the suns light and convert it into electricity that can be stored and used.

Solar Panels by Lincoln Theater at the University of Hartford
Downfalls to solar power can come from the initial cost of installing solar panels, and the need of sunlight to generate electricity.