In March of 2019, the City of Los Angeles put forth a plan for ensuring the sustainability of all aspects of the city for decades to come. A core element of that plan is working to move to more energy efficient building both through retrofit and change construction design and materials. Building consumes the largest portion of electricity and serves to create a large portion of greenhouse gases. Intelligent, efficient retrofits will reap benefits for years to come in lower energy costs and additional green jobs.
The advantages of green construction fall into three main categories:
- Environmental Benefits
- Financial Benefits
- Social Benefits
Among the benefits of sustainable construction are:
1 COST REDUCTION
Southern California is suffering a major crisis in affordable housing. Sustainable construction can lower housing costs, diminish utility costs, plan for development adjacent to public transportation, and increase the construction of cost efficient housing. The net result of these measures will be to offer residents more housing at affordable rates with lower utility and travel costs.
2. INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY
Researchers have found that living in a environmentally friendly area and working in a green building can improve productivity. The research demonstrates measurable positive impacts on the productivity of workers in such buildings. A study conducted by Harvard researchers demonstrated quantifiable performance improvements attributable to working in a green environment.
3. IMPROVED HEALTH
According to the US Green Building Council, green buildings positively affect public health. Improving indoor air quality can reduce absenteeism and work hours affected by asthma, respiratory allergies, depression and stress and self-reported improvements in productivity. USGBC’s own research reinforces that employees in LEED green buildings feel happier, healthier and more productive.
4. WASTE MINIMIZATION
Operation of standard buildings wastes millions of tons of materials each year, while green building uses fewer resources and minimizes waste. LEED projects are responsible for diverting more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills, and by 2030 that number is expected to grow to 540 million tons.
5. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
The use of recycled materials in construction reduces the flow to the waste streams of vast amounts of what otherwise would be construction debris. By offering energy conservation, the energy sources are less taxed, and fewer waste products are discharged into the air. Solar heaters, improved use of water supplies, insulated air conditioning systems and many other practices combine to reduce the adverse impact of buildings on both the environment inside the building and outside.
6. BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
Whether it is a healthier work environment, more attractive environment, or mass transit options to high stress commutes, sustainable construction offers a clear improvement to the quality of life for all members of the community. Improved health due to safer materials, increased productivity – thanks to better surroundings and more effective noise protection, are only a few of the advantages. Sustainable construction improves the quality of life for all members of the community.
7. JOB EXPANSION
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has reported that the renewable job sector employed 700,000 more people in 2018 than 2017. In solar power, the industry provided 334,992 jobs in manufacturing and installation. In 2018, wind power jobs increased by 4 percent. The U.S. hydropower industry employed 66,448 people. Between retrofit of existing buildings and construction of new ones, the demand for workers skilled in sustainable construction will provide major increases in employment demand, and with increased demand will come increased compensation and benefits for workers.