As the environmental building movement grows in popularity and recognition, you may be wondering about the benefits of green building, and whether or not it's worth the trouble to green up your own home building and remodeling plans. Environmental building typically requires more thought, research and design time, but that up-front investment can lead to later savings in materials costs and a boost in quality of living.
To get an idea of green building's benefits and the impact of construction on our environment, consider a few of the findings of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) . In our country alone, residential and commercial buildings account for 36% of total energy use and 65% of electricity consumption. They claim 30% of raw materials and 12% of potable water. And when it comes to pollution, our built environment generates 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and 136 million annual tons of waste. Looking at this state of affairs through green-tinted glasses, it's not hard to see how a little conservation could go a long way.
Here are the three major categories of green building benefits.
This holistic approach to creating a living space can take many forms, so don't think you're out of the loop just because you're not planning on building a straw-bale house anytime soon (although that is a pretty cool and innovative green building technique). Start by shopping for appliances and home systems that have earned the Energy Star  label, and conserve water with the new WaterSense  products being introduced this year.
Take a closer look at environmental building materials offered at your favorite home improvement center, and research all the choices next time you're planning a project, big or small. Finally, thanks to organizations like the USGBC and such guidelines as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System , you can be assured that plenty of trained building professionals are ready to show you the benefits of environmental building.