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Introduction to Green Building

Anytime you build--whether you are renovating an existing building or constructing a new one--you make choices. And those choices have a big impact on the health and comfort of the people who use your building, construction costs, our community, and our environment.

Green building means making healthy and sustainable choices, especially in the way your building uses energy, water, materials, and its site. Because of this, green buildings have the following five qualities. As you click on each to learn more, keep in mind that small changes add up. Every "green" choice you make lets you reap the rewards of a better building which is:  

 Energy Smart Use Less, Save More
  Water Wise For a Clean & Plentiful Supply
  Material Conscious Waste Not, Pay Not
  A Site Steward For a Livable City
  A Healthy Place Build "Green," Live Well
Duo West house
Duo West house - kitchen
Duo West house - 2

Now that you know about the five qualities of green buildings, continue on to
 Step 2   Learn about Green Building Certification Programs. And to see how different local projects have made green choices, visit Case Studies


Energy Smart
Use Less, Save More

 

Did you know that buildings use 68% of the electricity produced in the United States each year? Most of that energy comes from sources that cause global warming, habitat and wildlife loss, and pollution. Green buildings protect our planet by using less energy and drawing it from sustainable sources.


REWARDS OF MAKING YOUR BUILDING ENERGY SMART:

  • Save money on utility bills
  • Keep our air clean and our climate stable
  • Preserve endangered species and their habitat


SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BUILDING ENERGY SMART:

  • Weatherize and insulate
  • Install ceiling fans
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Install ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances
  • Design to capture natural light
  • Install solar panels
  • Purchase energy from "Green Power" programs

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Solar panels on roof

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb

Insulation

 

Water Wise
For a Clean & Plentiful Supply

 

Did you know that buildings account for one-fourth of our nation's water use? Landscaping, plumbing, and commercial facilities often waste water or pollute its source. Green buildings safeguard our limited fresh-water supply by using less of it and by keeping our waterways clean.


REWARDS OF MAKING YOUR BUILDING WATER WISE:
  • Save money on utility bills
  • Enjoy a drought-resistant landscape
  • Keep our lakes and rivers healthy

SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BUILDING WATER WISE:

  • Choose “low flow” bathroom fixtures and water-efficient appliances
  • Install systems that use harvested rainwater and graywater* instead of potable (drinking) water for landscape irrigation and flushing toilets
  • Landscape with drought-tolerant, native plants
  • Use organic gardening practices to prevent pesticide and herbicide runoff
  • Install water-conserving drip, micro-mist, or sub-surface irrigation systems
  • Consider on-site wastewater treatment technologies for commercial facilities
Washer & Dryer

Kirkland stream

WaterSense faucet
* Graywater is untreated household wastewater which has not come into contact with toilet waste (Uniform Plumbing Code).

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Material Conscious
Waste Not, Pay Not

 

Did you know that buildings account for 40% of our nation’s raw materials use and 30% of its waste output? How we build has a big impact on construction costs, our forests, our environment, and our landfills. Green buildings conserve our natural resources through careful use of materials.

REWARDS OF MAKING YOUR BUILDING
MATERIAL CONSCIOUS:

  • Save on the cost of materials and disposal fees
  • Add value to your building and support the local economy
  • Keep our natural places intact

SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BUILDING
MATERIAL CONSCIOUS:

  • Choose products made from rapidly renewable sources, such as bamboo cabinets and flooring, wool carpeting, cotton insulation, and linseed-based linoleum
  • Choose products made from recycled or “waste” materials, such as plastic-based decking, agrifiber boards, and composite countertops
  • Use lumber that is reclaimed or certified as responsibly harvested (look for the FSC* logo)
  • Purchase materials from salvage stores or that have been locally produced
  • Recycle, salvage, or donate excess or unwanted materials
  • Consider selling or giving away an unwanted structure instead of demolition
Woods


Sustainable materials


Bamboo grove


Framed house
* The Forest stewardship Council (FSC) is an international, not-for-profit organization that certifies wood as having come from forests that are being responsibly managed.

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A Site Steward
For a Livable City & Healthy Planet

 

Did you know that how you build on your site will affect our community for many years? The choices you make impact the cost of using your building, the comfort of its occupants, the livability of our city, and the health of nearby ecosystems. Green buildings are good stewards of their sites.


REWARDS OF MAKING YOUR BUILDING A SITE STEWARD:
  • Save on utility bills
  • Create a more pleasant building indoors and out
  • Protect our shores and salmon
  • Preserve our city’s quality of life
Danielson Grove commons

SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BUILDING A SITE STEWARD: 
  • Reduce the "footprint" by building up and tucking parking underneath
  • Build a “not-so-big” house
  • Orient your building to take advantage of the sun’s warmth and light
  • Use clearly marked site-disturbance boundaries during construction
  • Preserve mature trees and native vegetation whenever possible
  • Create a backyard habitat or native landscape
  • Use porous paving on walkways and driveways
Site Steward plan
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A Healthy Place
Build "Green," Live Well

 

Did you know that Americans spend 90% of their time indoors and that indoor air pollution can be two to five times worse than outdoor levels? This is because common materials used in buildings "off-gas" harmful substances. Also, many homes and offices are poorly ventilated and have problems with humidity. Green buildings are healthy places to live and work.

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REWARDS OF MAKING YOUR BUILDING A HEALTHY PLACE:
  • Create a more comfortable indoors
  • Protect the people who use your building from mold and toxins
  • Eliminate offensive “new building” odors
Safer finishes


SIMPLE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BUILDING A HEALTHY PLACE:

  • Choose materials that minimize off-gassing, such as low- or no-VOC paints, wood products that are free of formaldehyde, and true linoleum instead of sheet vinyl
  • Avoid synthetic wall-to-wall carpet, which off-gasses and traps pollutants
  • Upgrade older gas-burning appliances to clean and efficient new models and keep them serviced
  • Install whole-house ventilation systems and exhaust fans in attached garages
  • Use hard flooring in areas prone to moisture, such as finished basements
  • Use radiant heating systems instead of forced air and consider thermostats for individual rooms
Annex lobby