Building green means using design and construction practices that reduce or eliminate the negative impacts of buildings on the environment and on the health of building occupants. Everything from the raw materials of construction and delivery to the lifetime performance of a building, maintenance, and energy independence contribute to the overall sustainability of the building process.
The U.S. Green Building Council has developed a green building rating system called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). It divides sustainable building design into five basic impact areas and assigns point values to each.
The city takes direct actions towards its own energy independence through the use of biodiesel fuel in city vehicles, and the city's Green Fleet program to expand the use of hybrid vehicles for cars purchased by the city.
The city's tree planting campaigns, telecommuting policy, commuter incentive program, recycling program, change a light program to promote the use of Energy Star rated compact florescent lights, and many other initiatives are other examples of the city's extensive commitment to reduce emissions and preserve the environment.
Energy Saving Tips
Good Things Come in Small Packages. If you are building new or thinking about expanding, consider that a small building uses less energy and has a reduced impact on the environment than a large building.
Rethink That Basement. Much of Falls Church city has a very high water table. To avoid flooded basements during rainy periods, many citizens install electric sump pumps to pump the water table down below the basement floor. This creates an energy dependency during stormy periods when energy can be interrupted. Consider the alternatives to basements, such as crawl spaces above grade and using attics for storage space.
Caulking, Sealing, Taping, and Weather Stripping. A lot of energy escapes unseen from joints in mechanical ductwork and around cracks in doors and windows.
Insulation. One of the best ways to increase comfort, reduce costs, and save energy is to properly insulate your home. When insulating, make sure the roof, wall sheathing, and crawl spaces are well ventilated; evaluate vapor migration from the home interior; and cover foam plastic and paper-backed insulation on interior spaces with 1/2 an inch of gypsum board.
Energy Star Performance Testing. You can learn a lot about the efficiency of your home by having it tested by a ResNet-Certified home energy rater. Find out more about this at the Energy Star website.
Thermal Mass. Especially when heated by direct sunshine, a large mass like an interior masonry wall, located within the insulation envelope of the house, will store energy and radiate it back out at night. This serves to stabilize interior temperatures, reducing the interior fluctuation between daytime highs and nighttime lows. It also reduces the stress on mechanical systems.