Green building is a holistic model founded upon the idea that a building’s environment can have overwhelming effects, both positive and negative, on the natural environment as well as the people who inhabit it. Green building focuses on accentuating the positive influences while minimizing or eliminating the negative impacts.
The most widely accepted definition of green building, also referred to as green construction or sustainable building, is ‘the planning, design, construction and operations of buildings with several central, foremost considerations: energy use, water use, environmental quality, material selection and the building’s effects on the site.’
In a nutshell, this means that a building is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout its entire lifecycle, which includes choosing the site where it will be built, its design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and eventual demolition.
Silicon Valley is a pioneer of the green building movement. As of 2012, over 100 buildings in the Silicon Valley were LEED certified, including Google, Facebook, Intuit, Yahoo, Adobe and the futuristic Apple headquarters in Cupertino due to be completed in 2016.
Sustainable building also pertains to homes. Many new homes are being constructed to meet specific green requirements and many older homes are incorporating sustainable materials and enhancing energy efficiency. Solar panels make use of the sun’s energy to power a home while smart technology helps minimize its energy usage. Various environmentally friendly resources are being incorporated for flooring and other materials. Garden roofs, high-tech, ‘intelligent’ and energy-efficient windows, personal water treatment systems and ‘grid-aware’ appliances are all on the leading edge of the residential green movement.
All cities are required to follow the mandatory measures established by CalGreen, but Palo Alto is one Silicon Valley city that goes above and beyond these green guidelines, protecting their environment with self-imposed strict parameters to safeguard existing trees throughout their borders.
Green building is a movement that is here to stay and will continue to integrate ecological materials, energy efficiency and building health into the lifespan of all structures.