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Green Buildings and Texas Energy Efficiency

March 30, 2011

One of the most important aspects in people’s everyday lives is the building they live, work and play in. Not only do people perform most of their everyday tasks inside these buildings, these structures protect them from environmental extremes that can affect their health and wellbeing. This holds true not only in Texas but in the rest of the nation as well.

That is why buildings take a significant amount of the energy and Texas electricity people use on a daily basis. In quantifiable terms, a typical building in the United States has the following consumption rates:

  • 39 % of total energy use
  • 12 % of the total water consumption
  • 68 % of total electricity consumption
  • 38 % of the carbon dioxide emissions

As societies become more aware of the environmental impacts of the way they use energy, more and more people are adapting energy efficient principles in constructing sustainable green buildings or making renovations and improvements towards a greener and more energy-efficient home. With their power to choose energy options, consumers in Texas adapting green building principles can achieve significant economic, environmental and social benefits.

Understanding the Benefits of Green Buildings

 

Green building is still in its toddler stage and is constantly evolving towards better and more efficient systems. It is both a science and a passion that would eventually allow people to be safe and comfortable in the places they live, work, play and study while at the same time be responsible for the environment while gaining significant savings from electricity and other resources.

In its most basic sense, a green building should be affordable, comfortable, durable, energy-efficient, healthy, responsible for its resources, and sustainable. Green building principles can be integrated at any stage of design and construction and can have significant positive impact on the environment, health and the economy which includes:

  • Environmental Benefits

o        Improve the quality of air and water

o        Reduce the production of wastes

o        Conserve electricity and restore natural resources

  • Economic benefits

o        Reduce cost of operations and maintenance

o        Improve productivity of workers and occupants

o        Optimize economic performance

  • Social benefits

o        Enhance the comfort and health of occupants

o        Minimize strain on local infrastructure

o        Improve overall quality of life

Leading Green Building Examples in Texas

The following are some of the leading examples of green buildings in Texas. These structures have adapted green building and conservation principles. These buildings have received high levels of LEED certifications from the United States Green Building Council and should set the example for others to follow.

  • EMS Station No. 28 (Austin) – Built in 2004, this is the first public building in Texas to receive a gold LEED rating. The structure has an insulated concrete wall system using a good mix of new and recycled materials which were all produced within the vicinity of Austin. It also has good sound insulation, a rainwater collection cistern, and has low electricity and other utility bills.
  • Austin City Hall – The city of Austin has a good reputation of being environmental friend and this can be clearly seen right in their City Hall itself which qualified for gold-level LEED certification as it was constructed in 2004. Its innovative design incorporates energy-saving features and was noted for its high degree of use of recycled materials. The building is also using 100%  electricity coming from renewable energy sources including wind power.
  • NASA Facility (Houston) – Built in 2005, the new astronaut quarantine facility in the Johnson Space Center qualified for LEED certifications for sustainability. The 12 bedroom facility features a recycled structural framing, recycled rubberized floors, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and energy-monitoring control systems.

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