The buildings we live, study, work and shop in also can become greener. Green building designs promote efficient energy and water use, protect the safety of employees, and reduce waste and pollution. They employ recycled building materials, energy from renewable sources, and green roofs (planted with vegetation).
In the United States, the Green Building Council is the leading organization for promoting the design of environmentally-friendly buildings. The Council has developed a rating system for green buildings, ranking them on specific construction features. More than 14,000 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings exist or are being built in the United States and abroad.
One of the easiest ways to contribute to lessening global warming is by replacing the light bulbs in your
home, school or office with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs, which can be easily identified by their “squiggly” shape, produce the same amount of light as traditional incandescent bulbs, yet use less energy.
Although CFLs are more expensive than traditional bulbs, the savings they provide over their lifetime will exceed the initial cost difference. Each CFL bulb can save approximately $30 in electricity costs over its lifetime.
CFLs’ low greenhouse gas emissions helps the climate, but the bulbs themselves contain small amounts of mercury, which must be disposed of properly to avoid damaging the environment in other ways. Because CFL bulbs last about five years, you won’t have to face the problem of safe disposal very often.
Many new energy-efficient products fill our homes and offices. From televisions to air conditioners, refrigerators to computers, the appliances we use everyday are now designed with the environment in mind. Interested in purchasing one? Just look for the blue Energy Star logo.
Energy Star is a U.S. Government program to protect the environment through energy efficient products. Energy Star approved products meet government standards for energy efficiency. These appliances work the same way traditional ones do, but use much less energy, so they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save you money on your energy bill.