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Green Building - Introduction

Look out your window. Chances are you’ll see buildings, and more than a few. Buildings are a huge economic asset. They account for 13 percent of the gross domestic product and more than half the nation’s wealth. Buildings also have a large environmental footprint. They use 40 percent of the nation’s energy, one-fourth of its timber harvest, and 16 percent of its fresh water. Buildings account for more than one-third of carbon dioxide emissions and 40 percent of municipal solid waste sent to landfills.

Those are interesting numbers, but at the risk of stating the obvious, buildings are important for people, who spend more than 80 percent of their time indoors. If they’re designed right using "green building" principles, buildings can be tremendously productive assets that add value for their users, owners, and their environment.

Green buildings lighten the environmental footprint and keep utility bills down by using energy and water efficiently. But the lasting benefits of green buildings that are healthy and comfortable are strikingly revealed by considering their full costs. More than 90 percent of a building’s life-cycle cost is the labor cost of people who work in it. Green buildings can provide a human "habitat" that will improve employee productivity, stimulate creativity, attract and retain workers, and improve overall worker satisfaction.

A building’s value can be enhanced and its environmental footprint reduced by taking an integrated perspective. That means addressing design issues through a whole systems approach and considering the full range of building design and operation issues, from the time it is conceptualized through siting, construction, operation, remodeling, and eventual deconstruction for reuse on site or elsewhere. Through intelligent design and building material choices that take a whole systems approach, buildings can be "greened" into healthy, productive places that meet the needs of individuals, businesses, and the community at large.

This set of resources provides a comprehensive compilation of resources, mostly web-based, as a starting point that will help you "green" your building, home, or site. The resources are presented under the broader topic headings listed below. We hope you find this resource helpful.

Our thanks to the following for their generous assistance in reviewing and contributing to this document.

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