Can Green Buildings Make Us Smarter?

Green is good -- outside or inside an occupied building.

A recent study published by Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) suggests that Green Buildings create optimized conditions for health and productivity. In a series of experiments, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) factors for both “green” and “conventional” buildings were simulated in a controlled environment that included office workers, and the researchers measured variables such as carbon dioxide variation, ventilation and exposure to volatile organic compounds in the building atmosphere.

The results? On average, cognitive scores for the two groups of workers were 61% higher for those working in a building with green features than with conventional construction.  In other words, green building can potentially deliver a smarter workforce.

Energy Efficient Buildings Key to Combating Climate Change

energy efficient building

Renovating the Federal Building in Portland, Oregon cut energy usage by 45% and water consumption by 60%.

A new report from the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Sustainable Business Council concludes that energy-efficient buildings are one of the most effective and economical ways to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint in response to global warming. That’s because buildings account for more greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. than any other source, including transportation and industry. The report probes the economics of green buildings and their value in mitigating greenhouse gas production, suggesting that brick and mortar solutions to the climate challenge make for good economics in the long run.

Why Continuity Is Crucial in Air and Moisture Barriers

There are numerous ways to keep air and moisture barriers intact in building envelopes, even at those areas experiencing movement.

Most design / construction professionals understand the need for well-designed air and moisture control layers in wall assemblies. Apart from simply keeping liquid water on the exterior of the building where it belongs, air and moisture barriers help reduce unwanted air movement throughout a building. This, in turn, reduces unnecessary energy consumption, helps prevent mold and mildew growth on the interior, stops pollutants such as radon gas and allergens from entering the building, and enhances comfort for indoor occupants by reducing drafts and external noise.

What is not widely known is that the most important criteria for these air and moisture barrier systems is for them to be continuous around the entire building. Continuity is crucial because buildings move — how much depends upon the climate zone and the building materials specified — and they will continue to move as long as they remain standing. That raises a key question:  If we know that air and moisture barrier systems need to be continuous and we know that buildings move, how do we ensure continuity of these same systems when movement occurs.

A recent article by John Chamberlin In “The Construction Specifier” Magazine explores the subject in detail and provides some valuable answers.

The building envelope: Then and now

The building envelope has been a staple of structural design for the past few hundred years and it's just as important today.

The procedures used in construction change all the time, but some methods aren’t going anywhere. Building envelope, a term for planned gaps in a structure, has been a staple of structure design for the past few hundred years and it’s just as important today. Let’s take a look at the progression of the building envelope to see just how far along the technique has come.

Since the dawn of mankind, civilization has relied on shelter for protection from the elements. As these structures began to progress alongside technology, the additions to the basic home became more advanced, as did the materials used. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Whole Building Design Guide, the earliest known buildings were often dome-shaped, but early humans began to adapt to their respective climates in the world by utilizing different materials. Once distinct roofs, floors and walls began to emerge, our ancestors realized the importance of adapting to their respective environments beyond just protecting themselves from exposure. This led to the earliest practice of masonry utilizing building envelope.

How to prevent autumn building damage

Autumn carries unique conditions that can cause lackluster building performance - here's how architects can meet those challenges.

Autumn carries unique conditions that can cause lackluster building performance – here’s how architects can meet those challenges.