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The Positive Environmental Impact of Green Buildings

The green building sector continues to grow at a staggering rate. Green buildings are becoming increasingly popular as word spreads about the benefits of green building in the industry. The green building movement began in the 1990s thanks to US government legislation that established prescriptive requirements based on environmental impact assessments, now called sustainable design. Since then, green building has moved beyond government legislation and has been adopted by the private sector.

Green buildings are good for the health of their occupants and good for the environment. They are already being built everywhere in Canada, you can and see the first company that has done so as well.

Through the use of design strategies that improve indoor environmental quality (such as air quality) and global environmental quality (such as reducing energy and water consumption), sustainable design can lead to improved health, productivity and well-being while reducing life cycle costs. These results can be attributed to several 'green' features that are becoming increasingly common in the design of new commercial and institutional buildings.

Water efficiency

Using less water than conventional buildings. This often relates to landscaping and watering of indoor plants as well as wastewater reclamation.

Air quality

A green building ensures that the air in it is clean, healthy and generally free of harmful pollutants. This can be achieved by reducing pollution from sources such as car exhaust gasses or volatile organic compounds (VOCs), increasing ventilation to better dilute indoor air pollutants, using low-emission materials, and using environmentally friendly cleaning products.


Green Buildings use materials with lower life cycle impact, lower manufacturing costs and less embodied energy to provide adequate indoor comfort. Materials are chosen for their durability, recyclability, low toxicity, reusability or recyclability beyond their useful life, ease of repair and maintenance (to reduce the need for replacement), and low embodied energy (i.e. cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment).

Indoor environmental quality

Green buildings improve indoor air quality by using low-emission materials such as paints and adhesives, providing proper ventilation to dilute pollutants, adequate filtration and the use of low-emission materials. Green buildings often minimize the use of synthetic chemicals (such as pesticides) and fertilizers for landscaping, relying instead on composting organic materials or biocontamination to maintain soil nutrient levels, among other strategies.

Carbon dioxide emissions

A green building reduces its carbon footprint through more efficient energy systems that reduce energy consumption. Some green buildings generate their own electricity using renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar, micro-hydro or geothermal energy. Such green buildings can be 'net-zero' (i.e. produce more electricity than they consume) or use emissions offsets to balance out any additional emissions associated with the construction and operation of the building.

Improving air quality

By managing stormwater runoff, limiting indoor air pollution (UV radiation, filtration) and supplying fresh air to ventilation systems, green buildings improve the air quality within their walls.

Energy efficiency

By reducing energy consumption, green buildings make better use of limited resources. A common approach is to design with lower heating and cooling costs combined with the installation of more efficient HVAC equipment. Daylighting also reduces lighting needs, and natural light from windows or skylights can reduce or completely eliminate the need for electric lighting.