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SMS Projects > Articles > Green Construction – Important Things to Know

Green Construction – Important Things to Know

What is green construction?
Yoram Kraus: The "greenest" house in the world was built in Rhinebeck, USA and it is supposed to serve as a model for all green builders around the world.  This ambitious venture, initiated by the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, is planned to meet the strictest standards of green construction and to contain all of the currently existing green elements.  
Concurrently, on the other side of the globe in Western Yemen, there are still houses excavated into the mountains, providing local villagers with housing solutions for over 700 years.  They may not know it, but there is nothing "greener" than their cave homes anywhere around the world.
And so, between the excavated cave homes in Yemen and the green house in America, one can find the definition of green construction.  It is a holistic approach to planning, constructing and operating residential, office or industrial structures, aimed at creating a healthier and more convenient living environment, considerate of the environment and preventing damage to natural resources as much as possible.
Green construction has four goals, whose integration comprises the method's basic elements: 1. Preserving natural resources. 2. Reducing environmental damage.  3.  Increasing energy efficiency in the structure.  4.  Improving air quality (within and outside of the structure).  In relating to these goals, each has the means, materials and tools for achieving it.
In other words, a "green" house is one that is adjusted to the area in which it is built, to the environmental climate surrounding it and made of materials suited for its location and environment.  Every region/country has its green elements – a different climate, environment and natural materials.  Thus, even if we, in Israel, try to recreate the greenest house in the world, which was built to suit a specific region in the U.S., there is no guarantee that it will remain "green" here too.

Is there a recognized standard for obtaining "Green Certificate" on a house/structure in Israel?
Yoram Kraus:  In 2006, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Standards Institute of Israel, launched the Israeli standard for green construction, "IS 5281 – Buildings whose environmental impact is reduced   (Green Buildings)".  The standard deals with residential and office buildings (excluding hotels and industrial structures) and any structure to meet the requirements will obtain a "Green Seal" from the Standards Institute of Israel.
In general, green construction is just beginning to appear in Israel and there are many spaces that have not yet been affected by the standards.

How is the level of green construction determined?

Yoram Kraus: Green planning and construction follows several characteristics/criteria, relating mainly to the proper and optimal utilization of natural resources and maximal utilization of energy, water and air, such as natural ventilation and acoustic insulation.  Each criterion is allocated with a certain rating, and the better the compliance with the criteria, the higher the green rating for the house.  The construction process is also an important criterion, presenting issues such as waste management, recycling, and more.

Is green construction more expensive than regular construction?
Yoram Kraus: Green constructions costs are slightly higher, but in the long run, a green home will actually save you money.  The advantages of green construction are in the structure's long term use and therefore, the cost of green construction must be evaluated in the long term.  An important part of planning green construction is the Life Cycle Cost and not just the investment in the construction process itself.  Global experience demonstrates that a green building returns the additional investment within 5-6 years.
In any event, each structure has its unique characteristics and there is no one specification that is correct for all projects.  However, the investment in green construction is not necessarily higher than the investment in ordinary construction.  Surveys conducted in Germany, for example, found a 5% difference between the cost of green and ordinary construction.  This issue has not yet been addressed in Israel.  It is possible that the initial investment in insulation or energy saving elements will be higher, but these investments will generate an economic profit in the long term, such as savings on energy expenses, water recycling, etc.  All of these, without addressing the environmental contribution of green construction, which is actually the reason and the basic tenet underlying the method.

When considering green construction, why is it important to choose SMS to manage the project?
Yoram Kraus:  On all issues relating to green construction, no one project resembles the other.  Each project has its own unique green elements, derived of the environment and construction area, the materials used and the objectives defined at the planning stage, which also define the correct solutions for a specific project.
This is also the reason that, although SMS managed the largest number of green projects among the management companies in Israel, I do not flaunt this as being the main reason for you to select SMS.  Because when it comes to green construction, experience is not everything.  Beyond the technical know-how, professional experience and knowledge of the standards, "green" is first and foremost a way of life that is based on the recognition that the natural resources of our world are limited and that if we do not unite in order to preserve them, we will cut off the branch that we and the future generations live on.  This approach also underlies the specific solutions for each and every project.

What distinguishes SMS from other green construction management companies?
Yoram Kraus: When asked how SMS became a leader in green construction project management in Israel, I like to compare it to mountain climbing.  Whoever considers mountain climbing to be an extreme sport only, does not only miss the basic essence of the sport, but also the ability to maximize the professional potential - because just as the link to nature is an integral part of mountain climbing, it is also impossible to maximize green construction project management without having a green soul.  The difference between one management company and the other, as related to green construction, is not just the experience and knowledge of the standards, the difference is in the approach – to be good in the field, you must first and foremost be green yourself.