One of the biggest bonuses of green building is the money it can save. The resources are renewable, power generation is pollution-free, and beyond the initial investment, green building saves money every day from there on out.

Green building is a combination of environmentally friendly components and practices designed to decrease the amount of energy used and to cleanly produce that energy in the first place. Read on to see a few easy steps to make green building cost effective.

The Roof

Roof construction is where it’s possible to save the most energy across the board. Not only can the way the roof is constructed contribute toward lower energy bills, it makes the perfect place to generate energy as well.

Traditional asphalt shingles are heavy and darkly colored. They sit up on the roof and soak up the heat from the sun and transmit it to the attic and to the rest of the building, forcing air conditioner units to work harder and use more electricity.

A light-colored metal roof, on the other hand, can not only reflect solar radiation away from a building, it can quickly emit the small amount of heat it retains. Metal roofs can be manufactured in any color, profile, or texture; they can even be made to match the rest of the neighborhood or surrounding businesses.

In the rare circumstance where the roof must be replaced, the metal can be recycled into new components. It is possible that the metal roof was, itself, created from recycled materials. This is extreme sustainability.

One more thing about the roof: it’s a perfect place to install solar panels. Metal roofs, particularly standing seam, can accommodate solar energy units neatly and cost-effectively.

Attic, Walls, and Windows

Insulation in the attic and under the roof will keep temperatures stable by keeping warm air outside when it’s hot and warm air inside when it’s cold. Heat rises, so anytime a building is heated, the warm air will travel upwards and force the cooler air down. No one wants to lose the heat to the outside, so insulation will keep it in.

When a building is cooled, insulation keeps heat out of the structure and helps the building stay cooler longer without additional air conditioning. A radiant barrier can also help keep the place comfortable by radiating heat back down from the underside of the roof or reflecting some heat outwards.

Providing cover for windows to keep the strength of the sun out will also result in less cooling needed. If you need more heat, simply uncover the windows. The use of double-paned glass or other energy efficient window system will keep things comfortable and a bit quieter.

The Systems

HVAC

Modern buildings contain heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems that run on various resources, typically electricity for cooling and natural gas for heating. Beyond saving the temperature controlled air inside the house without allowing additional heat or cold to sneak in, it is possible to save even more money on utilities with environmentally friendly HVAC.

First, design or remodel the structure to require less cooling in the first place (see metal roof and insulation). Next, check the air conditioner’s SEER rating. This tells you how efficiently it can cool. The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient the unit is.

Water

Cost-effective water use means getting more out of less. The less water you use, the better off you are in terms of utility savings. Install water efficient washing machines, low-flow toilets, low-flow shower heads, and maintain the faucets so they don’t drip.

If it’s possible to recycle some water and reuse it elsewhere, that is an automatic “twofer” that will save both money and resources. Putting in on-demand hot water systems reduces the amount of water wasted while waiting for it to warm up. Heating the water in the first place can also be done more efficiently and with less energy with solar, wind, or geothermal power.

Electrical

Look for Energy Star® certification on all installed appliances, from the HVAC to the clothes dryer. The EPA put this program into place to help consumers select and purchase the most energy-efficient, and therefore cost-efficient, items.

In addition to using energy-efficient components, tools, and accessories, it’s a good idea to take advantage of those solar panels on the roof or that windmill outside to generate the electricity to run the building. The less you rely on the municipal grid, the more you save. This is how to achieve ROI on the up-front expense of installing renewable resource systems.

Green building is, indeed, very cost effective when done correctly, beginning with thorough planning during the design phase. Starting with the possibility of cutting energy usage by 40% on summer cooling by installing a metal roof and continuing with insulation and energy efficient systems, it’s possible to save more money to roll into the rest of your business.

 

This post was contributed by Whirlwind Steel.