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Here are 10 principles of green building. Look through them and try to predict what each of them is about. Then read the extracts below and match them with the corresponding principles.
1. The trend lately has been toward huge mansion-style houses. While these might fit the egos of those who purchase them, they don't fit with a sustainable life style. Large houses generally use a tremendous amount of energy to heat and cool. This energy usually comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, depleting these resources and emitting greenhouse gases and pollutants into the air. Also, the larger the house, the more materials go into its construction; materials which may have their own environmental consequences. A home should be just the right size for its occupants and their activities. Create multipurpose spaces. To save on construction costs, consider building more floors instead of a sprawling one-story home. Going up is usually cheaper than spreading out. A multistory home also reduces the impact on the landscape.
2. Use the sun to heat and cool the building. Passive solar heating, day lighting (using natural sunlight to light a room), and natural cooling can be incorporated cost-effectively into most buildings. As energy costs rise, it is critical to use building orientation, window placements, stone floors, roof overhangs, reflective barriers and other techniques to control natural solar energy. In colder climates, solar heat can be absorbed and stored by the surrounding thermal mass (usually masonry materials such as concrete or stone), so that the heat will be given back into the room when the sun goes down. A well designed solar house is both warm when you want it, and cool when you want it; that is to say, the temperature tends to stay fairly even.
3. There are many ways to conserve the use of fossil fuel. Using the sun, wind, or water to produce electricity is one. If you choose to do this, you will be forced to be careful in the way you use your electricity because it is limited. Whether you get your electricity from alternative sources or from the grid, it pays to choose energy efficient appliances. Making an energy-efficient building is the easiest thing you can do to save energy. Use high levels of insulation, high-performance windows, and tight construction. You may think of the way your house will use renewable energy, consider solar water heating and photovoltaics or design the roof for future solar panel installation.
4. The average person in the U.S. uses between 100 and 250 gallons (378-945 liters) of water a day. It is possible to get by just fine on one tenth that amount. The use of low water capacity toilets, flow restrictors at shower heads and faucet aerators are fairly common now. More radical conservation approaches include diverting gray water from bathing, clothes washing and bathroom sinks to watering plants or flushing toilets, catching rain water from roofs and paved areas for domestic use or irrigating your lawn.
5. There are several benefits to using local, indigenous materials. For one, they naturally fit into the “feeling” of the place. For another, they don't burn as much fossil fuel to transport them, and they are likely to be less processed by industry. Naturally occurring materials often “feel” better to live with. A major reason for choosing natural materials over industrial ones is that the pollution often associated with their manufacture is minimized. For every ton of Portland cement that is manufactured, an equal amount of carbon dioxide is released into the air. And then there is the matter of your health; natural materials are much less likely to adversely affect your health.
6. While wood is ostensibly a renewable resource, we have gone way beyond sustainable harvesting and have ruined enormous ecosystems. Use wood as decoration. Cull dead trees for structural supports. Design for alternative construction techniques. Use masonry, straw bales, cob, adobe, rocks, bags of volcanic rock, etc., instead of wood. Make the structure adaptable to other uses, and choose materials and components that can be reused or recycled. Consider an addition to your existing home instead of building new. Remodeling your home is a form of recycling. Before assuming you need to build something new, consider putting an addition on your home instead. Take the money you save and put it into more important things, like solar panels.
7. It’s just a common sense to choose healthy and non-toxic materials. At the beginning of your design, commit to using only healthy materials in your new home. Avoid products that contain dyes, ozone depleting chemicals, heavy metals, formaldehyde, or known carcinogens. Reducing the size of your lawn is a good idea as lawns require a great deal of maintenance, pesticides, and mowing. Avoid this high impact with native and natural landscaping. Make sure construction waste is properly disposed of, especially paints and solvents. Do not allow them to be buried on the site.
8. There is an attitude in this throw-away society that an old house might as well be replaced by a new one. Unfortunately this is often true, because of low-quality construction or poor choice of materials, or lack of maintenance. A well made house can last for centuries, and it should.
9. A basic principle of sustainability is to share what you have with others. Doing this can diminish the need for unnecessary duplication of facilities. In this way a group of people can not only have fewer tools or appliances or functional areas, but at the same time they can have available a greater variety of these facilities. This benefits both the environment (through less industrial activity) and the individual (by providing more options for living).
10. Locate your new home close to public transportation or bicycle paths, or within walking distance of shops and basic services so as to minimize dependence on your car. Include a home office in your design to reduce commuting; you’ll reduce your stress and save on fuel costs. Locate the house to minimize environmental impact. Design the home to preserve open space and wildlife habitats. Try to keep as many of the existing trees, plants and birds as possible.
3. Answer the questions:
1. What is the main idea of green building?
2. What is your opinion on this construction approach?
3. Which of these principles would you like to follow if you decided to build green?
4. Are they followed in a typical construction process?
5. Do you think we can apply all of them to our country?
6. Do you know anything about the governmental support of green building in other countries? What about our country?
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