Sustainable or “green” construction is a type of construction which is concerned with environmental impacts in addition to the creation of a usable structure. When people build sustainably, it means that they are building in a way which is considered sustainable, meaning that the building practices used can be utilized in the long term without causing damage to the environment. There are a number of aspects to sustainable construction, and such construction is often overseen by a firm which specializes in sustainable construction and is familiar with the complexities of this type of work.
Sustainability is a complex issue. One critical facet is environmental sustainability, but it can also include social and economic sustainability. Good sustainable construction thinks about the environmental impacts of construction and long term building use, in addition to considering whether or not a structure is economically sensible to build and maintain, and whether or not a structure fits sustainably into the social structure in the area where it is being built.
Measures to address environmental sustainability can include things like increasing energy efficiency, reducing the amount of energy a structure needs in the long term, along with things like using sustainable materials such as recycled materials and renewable materials. Environmental sustainability can also include measures which are designed to benefit the environment, such as installation of a rooftop garden, water reduction measures, and the use of nontoxic building materials.
Economic sustainability often includes energy efficiency, which saves money in the long term, along with the use of materials which are economically feasible to install, maintain, replace, and repair. For example, using local stone in a building can make it cheaper, in addition to making the building more environmentally friendly by eliminating the need for transport of stone from remote locations. Social sustainability can include a consideration of how a building will be used, and the integration of design which makes the building highly flexible so that it can be easily repurposed as needs change, rather than being replaced.
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Some nations actively promote sustainable construction with rebates and other incentives to companies which practice it or use it. It is also promoted through the use of trade organizations which provide certifications to sustainable buildings which meet their standards. These organizations inspect buildings to determine whether or not they were built sustainably, and sometimes their certifications qualify buildings and companies which use sustainable construction for awards, tax breaks, and other incentives.