Green Building Myths-What are green buildings, anyway? Is there some kind of add-on that you slap on to normal buildings to make them green? Are they affordable? Are they worth it? Lots of questions abound around green buildings and lots of answers also do the rounds most of which are quite erroneous. We’ve listed some of the more common myths right here.
1. Not everyone can afford green buildings
Damn right, they can’t! Heck, not everyone can afford buildings, period. But if you’re under the impression that green buildings are costlier than normal ones, you’re mistaken. They are not, and the myth is propagated by huge structures found all over the developed world that were badly constructed to begin with and consumed an equally huge portion of the taxpayers’ money to become green. Also, eco friendly buildings are built from the ground up – there’s no magic add-on. So, if you want a home for yourself and wondering about whether or not to go green, by all means, do!
2. Green buildings help the environment
Well, not exactly. This is not to say that green buildings are not environment friendly, but when you create an artificial structure, you normally don’t do it out of thin air. You do it by consuming natural resources. In other words, green buildings are certainly greener than non-green ones, but lets not go overboard and miss the point: any building is a taxation on the environment. Ideally, we should all be living in tree houses or mud houses with thatched roofs. So, what happens to that home you were going to build for yourself? Make it green, of course: lesser evil.
3. Green or not, walls have to breathe
No they don’t. This is kind of irritating, really, the constant comparison of inanimate objects with living things. You have to breathe, so your building does too. What kind of logic is that? Your walls are put there to keep out wintry drafts, let in warm summer air and make your building leak-proof lest you get washed out when it rains. That’s about all a wall is good for apart from the privacy opaque ones obviously give you. Your room has to breathe – if ventilation may be called breathing. And you need to get yourself quality windows for that very reason. The walls? They are best for you when they are solid – even when they are made entirely of glass.
4. Green means no air conditioner
Green means less air conditioner, not an absence of it. A green building is created to be warm in winter and cool in summer. When the weather is terribly hot and humid, you’ll need an air conditioner and a standalone dehumidifier if you want to be comfortable. Why can’t an air conditioner do a dehumidifier’s job? It can, but then it has to run for quite a few hours. A green building, as we said, needs less AC, and the humidity is only marginally reduced. This is why you would ideally require a standalone dehumidifier for your green home. There is going to be a small problem – your home will become a little warm with the dehumidifier at work – but that’s what you have the AC for. And no, it is not a vicious cycle that actually wastes more energy – it doesn’t. You’d still need less air conditioning that conventional houses.
5. Green materials must be imported
A lot of people seem to believe that a exotic stuff like bamboos, corks and rare, tropical plants must be used in a green building, along with European plumbing. Yes, you can create a green home for yourself with all that, but you don’t need to. There are materials being produced indigenously that are as good and you get all the wood you need from certified forests. In fact, the greenness of a green structure has as much to do with the architectural planning as it has to do with the materials used.
6. Green buildings are very red when it comes to energy consumption
It should be elementary – even in normal buildings people use energy savers these days, so how can green buildings possibly use more? And as we mentioned, you need less air conditioning in a green building (and you don’t need dehumidifiers the year round). Solar panels lessen your carbon footprint and .. okay, never mind all that. Let’s just state facts: the first 12 LEED (a green certification system) houses created by the US General Services Administration were found to consume 26 percent less energy than conventional government buildings and produced 33 percent lower carbon emissions, too. If that doesn’t convince you, we do know what will – just look up similar surveys on the Internet and find out for yourself.
7. Green means Spartan
And Spartan means less comfort, right? Right, but green does NOT mean Spartan unless you prefer to sleep on unpolished wooden floors. Toxic chemicals were long being used (and still are) in the making of furnishings and it was found quite a while back that for the average US citizen, the interior of their homes were more toxic than the outside where they typically spent lesser time. Green means an elimination of the toxic part from your furnishings and getting pillows and mattresses and paint for your home that are both comfortable and good for your health. If you are the kind of person that dreads working out and can’t imagine sleeping on a hard surface, a green building will at least keep you in a healthy environment, so go for it without a second thought.
8. Green buildings are made exclusively from wood
Half of America has wooden buildings (we’re not sure of the statistics, but you know what we mean) – that doesn’t mean they all live in green buildings. And while that does not disprove the myth, let us simply state that cement and concrete are very much in use for making all sorts of green buildings. As we mentioned, architectural planning and choice of material together create a green building. When concrete is better suited to build the walls, it is used. Where wood is in abundance and, therefore, less costly, it becomes a good choice. Where mud and straws and kiln burnt bricks are easily available, a green building will be made out of that (although that will certainly require more maintenance). Don’t visualize picturesque wooden buildings when you think green – that’s simply not the only kind of greenness that there is.
9. You need a lot of green space around your home to make it green
Very true – if you have a lot of area within your boundary walls you will likely have a lot of pollution free air space. But as far as green buildings go, the myth is best debunked by the fact that New York, which rightfully ought to be a concrete jungle and an ecologist’s nightmare, is actually one of the greenest cities in the world. If you wish to know more about this, this article is not the ideal place for it. Hint: try Googling for ‘Green Manhattan’ by David Owen.
But back to where we were: don’t let this myth stop you from getting a green home. Only an architect can tell you if it is possible to build a green home somewhere or if the ventilation will only bring in noxious fumes into your home. Get an expert opinion first instead of relying upon hearsay.
10. Green buildings are just another passing fad
No they are not. Ask around the world for rates on green building rentals and compare them with conventionally built structures in the same area and you will have your answer. A recent study (and we found it quite alarming, actually) said that the world will run out of chocolate in a matter of years! Which is why many manufacturers have begun stuffing their bars with more and more dried fruits. We are on the brink of almost inevitable destruction of our natural resources and of even our entire planet. What is more important: more of us are aware of this today and willing to do something about it. Green buildings are here to stay – to anyone who predicts otherwise, we ask them to read our article.