When construction pros say they’re “building green,” they mean they are creating structures that use resources more efficiently, have low impact on the environment, and provide relatively healthy places for people to live and work. The industry standard is set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, designed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Want to build green? Here are some of the architectural, engineering and construction measures you’re going to be graded on:

Energy Efficiency

    Make buildings tighter, to reduce energy waste. Use thermal windows and special façade coatings to conserve heat, and ensure that windows, walls and roof fit together precisely. Put reflective sheets or plants on rooftops to limit heat absorption.
    o Improve efficiency of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. For instance, pump less heat into rooms that get direct sunlight, and keep rooms self-contained.
    o Use energy-efficient lights, machinery and appliances, and install solar technology to decrease electrical demand.

Water Conservation

    o Use the smallest possible pipes and fixtures to minimize consumption.
    Avoid the use of drinking-quality water for cooling towers, plumbing or irrigation.
    Install in-building filters for drinking water.
    Collect and filter used water and reuse it in toilets and cooling systems.

Materials and Resources

    o Limit use of building materials that release toxic gases. That includes most paints, carpets, finishings, enamels, glues, spackles and furnishings.
    o Use building materials made of recycled, nontoxic and durable substances, such as cork and bamboo flooring and natural-fiber carpets.
    o Reduce use of rare natural resources, especially slow-growth woods and animal products.
    o Use local materials to limit consumption of fossil fuels during shipping.

Indoor Environmental Quality

    o Keep buildings dry. A dry building provides no environment for mold and other biological matter to grow. Install water-resistant insulation and build water-repellent window ledges. And use a “cavity wall”-an empty crevice between the brick and mortar, so the walls breathe.
    o Pump in fresh, rigorously filtered air to limit the circulation of bacteria, allergens and pollutants.
    o Use individual programmable thermostats in every apartment or office, to conserve energy and add comfort.