What is a Green Building?

Compared to a conventional building, a green building is one which:

1. Uses less water 
2. Optimizes energy efficiency 
3. Conserves natural resources 
4. Generates less waste 
5. Provides healthier spaces for occupants 


Benefits:
According to the Lebanese Green Building Council, constructing a Green Building can achieve the following benefits: 

1. Increase return on investment. Up-front investments in green designs and technology can yield financial paybacks over the life of the building in the form of lower energy bills and reduced operating and maintenance costs

2. Increase sales and leasing potential of building: Green building features can help the facility sell more quickly and at an enhanced rate per square meter than conventional constructions

3. Boost occupant health and productivity. We spend 90% of our lives inside buildings and current research points more and more to bad Indoor Air Quality as a primary source of fatal illness, respiratory diseases, asthma and allergies. Numerous studies show the productivity benefits of good natural light in buildings, and conversely, the negative impact of poor indoor environmental quality. Benefits to health and productivity in Green Buildings sometimes dwarfs reduced resources utilization savings

4. Reduce energy use: Buildings in Lebanon account for roughly 40% of the total national energy bill and a roughly equal percentage of the national Green House Gas emissions. We import 98% of our energy requirements which represent some 20% of the state budget. Green Buildings will greatly help toward reducing our energy bill

5. Reduce natural resources use: By recycling waste on site and using recycled, locally available, long lasting and renewable building materials, green building design helps preserve our natural resources for future generations

Cost:
Constructing environmentally-friendly buildings may be expensive on the short run. Photovoltaics, new appliances, and modern technologies tend to cost more money. Depending on the level of complexity of the systems involved, the price tag of a Green Building concept may increase from 0 to 20 % compared to a conventional construction. But although most green buildings cost a premium of <2%, they yield ten times as much over the entire life of the building. The savings in money come from more efficient use of utilities which result in decreased energy bills. Also, higher worker or student productivity can be factored into savings and cost deductions. Studies have shown over a 20 year life period, some green buildings have yielded $53 to $71 per square foot back on investment. It is projected that different sectors could save $130 billion on energy bills. Therefore, sound green design with proper usage will return these extra costs many folds during the life span of the building. 

Types of Buildings:
Green Buildings can be homes, schools, high rises, all big or small. Also, Green Buildings are not only for new constructions: old buildings can be renovated in a manner that would allow them to have Green Building certification. They can also undergo Operation and Maintenance programs that would improve their efficiency. 

Certification:
There are different rating and certification programs around the world for Green Buildings. The most known one is the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, developed by the United States Green Building Council. Generally each national Green Building Council proper to a country uses its own rating and certification program that suits best local conditions. 

Green Buildings in Lebanon:
Given that the concept is relatively new in the country, Green Buildings in Lebanon are still an ambition. However, there are a number of projects currently underway by architecture and construction firms for Green Buildings. One prominent example is the “Sama Beirut” project in Sodeco. This project is to be certified according to LEED standards, employs several sustainable strategies with utmost respect for the environment at its core: Water efficiency, minimizing energy consumption, optimizing energy performance, on site green power, day-lighting, ventilation effectiveness, indoor environmental quality, low emitting materials and controllability of systems for improved thermal comfort are to be implemented in Sama Beirut. Other projects include “Badaro Gardens” in Badaro, “La Broceliande” in Yarze, in addition to the planned AUB Engineering Laboratory. 

According to the Lebanese Green Building Council, once constructed, the building project accumulates “credit points”, based on which it could be classified as a “LEED” building on different point categories: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Such a classification is only given to the structure at least 1 year after its final construction. 

Sources: Lebanese Green Building Council Website
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