Green architecture is a way of building that accommodates project functionality and aesthetics while imposing the least amount of impact on the environment; it meets singular structure sustainability requirements while maintaining regard to the natural and cultural resources of a site, community, region and country.
Why do we green architecture?
Over the course of the last century, buildings have been constructed mostly on a smaller scale, with chief consideration given to single buildings, or groups of developments, and less importance focused toward surrounding structures or natural environmental settings. In the process, much of our building materials have been imported from overseas, or from distant regions, and transported to project sites.
In the mid-twentieth century, hard financial times and scarcity of imported building materials lent itself to more green architecture, in that builders were forced to manufacture those materials, such as steel, plywood and hybrid alternatives from regional plants. But by the 70’s, a financial turnaround saw the return of imported materials, effectively stifling any gains previously made through our own fully integrated construction materials industry.
The caveat here is a subsequent failure to maintain a long-term structure of local sustainable resources and processes that ensure a minimal impact on our environment, and due to this lack of planning, our own natural resources are now being depleted at an alarming rate.
Today, climate change is fast-becoming an accepted concept, and we’re experiencing a greater sensitivity to the depletion of carbon fuels, and the increased electrical requirements in a growing global economy and population. As a result, green architecture is now being viewed more as a necessity than a ‘trend’. We now understand the greater need for localized, renewable construction materials and resources that focus on the community and surrounding environment.
How green architecture is incorporated into the building industry
Here are a few of the means by which sustainable design has supported the movement to green building:
- Building orientation: positioning a structure so it gets the least amount of impact from sun and rain
- Use of natural light: facing windows so that they don’t allow in too much sun, allowing the building interior to remain comfortable with less cooling
- Ventilation: allowing for greater natural airflow to reduce the need for air conditioning
- Low-emission glass: helps to keep heat outside while light can still filter through
- Electricity alternatives: solar panels and wind turbines improve efficiency and reduce costs
- Water conservation: rainwater harvesting systems and reclaimed sources re-use water for irrigation, cleaning and flushing toilets
- Reduction of dependency on fossil fuels: development of infrastructures that rely more heavily on public transport, or walking and biking
By relying more on localized resources, and taking steps to incorporate sustainable materials and objectives into our building projects, we are laying the foundation for future generations to enjoy the natural resources that we now understand cannot be taken for granted. Going green ensures the future for our environment, our planet and its inhabitants for centuries to come. Here are some achievements from leaders in green construction.