“Species of plants and animals are disappearing a hundred or more times faster than before the coming of humanity, and as many as half may be gone by the end of this century. An Armageddon is approaching at the beginning of the third millennium. But it is not the cosmic war and fiery collapse of mankind foretold in sacred scripture. It is the wreckage of the planet by an exuberantly plentiful and ingenious humanity”.
The Future of Life, Edward O.Wilson (2002)
The World Commission on Environment and Development says: “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable – to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs . . .
“Sustainable development is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs” (Williamson et al., 17).
Ghani (2012:1) says: “The growing concern with environmental and ecological conditions have led to the search for eco-friendly building designs.
Building and the built environment are a major contributor to climate change.
Buildings and structures use 72% of a country’s electricity consumption.
Buildings of the world consume:
40% of the world's energy & materials
25% of the wood harvested
17% of our water
The average American house uses:
13,127 board feet of lumber
6,212 square feet of sheathing
2,000 square feet of flooring
In the U.S., buildings account for:
36% of total electricity consumption
62% of electricity use
30% of greenhouse gas emissions
37% of ozone depletion potential
And, ironically enough, most of us spend 90% of our time indoors.
The way we live is killing us. Buildings consume over 40% of our energy and resources and their use represents 70% of our total consumption. The environmental damage caused in the last hundred years is directly linked to how our buildings are built. Architects and other building professionals are in a position to affect change on the environment.
Green building (sustainable & ecological) is a way of designing buildings in terms of reducing energy use, conserving water, improving indoor air quality, and reducing natural resource depletion. The basic concepts for green buildings and construction methods have been around for decades it has only been in the last few years that there is significant growth in the greening of this industry.
Ecological design, green architecture, sustainable architecture, ecological engineering and ecological restoration, forms the future of the building industry.
Choices made in architecture, affects the environment and energy use over the building's lifespan. Manufacturing of building materials, influences the amount of energy used during production and transportation of these materials and hazardous chemicals may sometimes be used to produce building materials.
Not only is the construction industry one of the greatest sources of pollution due to high levels of energy consumption - during the construction process & its life cycle (such as air conditioning) – but external air temperature and the required internal temperature of the building also plays a role. The façade of a structure presents the level of heat transfer from the outside to the inside of tall buildings, and has an influence on energy consumption and contributes to CO2 emissions.
You can achieve sustainable construction by:
Reducing construction, demolition and excavation waste to landfill.
Reducing carbon emissions from construction processes and associated transport.
Ensuring products used in construction are responsibly sourced.
Reducing water usage during the construction process.
Carrying out biodiversity surveys and following up with necessary actions.
ADVANTAGES OF SUSTAINABLE, GREEN ARCHITECTURE & CONSTRUCTION
Green buildings are important
We spend more than 90% of our time indoors. Green building is the healthiest choice for a better life. In traditional construction, the quality of our indoor environment is often far more polluted than outdoor one due to the building materials, inadequate lighting, and a variety of other variables.
Green Buildings are designed, constructed and operated to enhance the well-being of occupants, to minimize negative impacts on the community and natural environment. Buildings consume 40% of the world's total energy, 25% of its wood harvest and 16% of its water. Compared to traditional construction, a green built home takes some of this pressure off the environment. It is just a matter of time before we run out of resources.
In the future, all buildings will be green.
We will have no choice.
Advantages of going green in the building industry
They provide a healthier environment.
They help the long-term economy and saves money.
They incorporate energy and water efficient technologies.
They reduce construction and demolition waste.
They have higher resale value.
They use renewable energy technologies.
They improve indoor air quality and thus health.
They are easier to maintain and built to last.
People in green buildings have fewer incidents of cold, flu and asthma as a result of access to fresh air, better ventilation systems and eco friendly paint and furniture.
They give greater access to daylight.
They assist in job creation.
They reduce global warming.
They save money.
They improved productivity, as building occupants who are healthy and comfortable are more productive.
They have higher market value. Residential and commercial buildings retain a high resale value if they include sustainable design components.
No more, sick building syndrome that has plagued homes and offices for decades, costing businesses money each month.
They have lower utility demands, reduced demand on electric, gas and water. This can result in lower municipal utility costs over the long run.
They give an improved quality of life.
They reduce operating costs by increasing productivity and using less energy and water.
They reduce environmental impacts by reducing emissions.
How Green architecture can impact energy consumption:
Green architecture has a positive impact on energy use throughout the life of the building, and can also save significant energy during design and construction.
McDevitt (1) says: “It takes energy to make a Building, more energy than you might have thought. Every material used to construct a building has energy locked into it. This "embodied energy" is the energy it takes to extract, fabricate and transport materials to the building site. "Embodied energy" also accounts for the energy added during construction and finishing”.
It takes 127 times more energy to manufacture aluminum than it does wood and steel needs 24 times more energy.
Luckily more cost effective, energy efficient and environmentally friendly building products are becoming available.
Factors to consider:
Using natural features such as using wind for natural cooling and ventilation.
Positioning of windows and shading helps control natural lighting.
When trees and other vegetation are preserved, they can supply energy saving shade in the summer and help block cold winter winds.
Water saving devices such as low flow toilets and showers indirectly saves energy required for treating and pumping water, and rain runoff can be saved and directed for irrigation.
Landscaping can replace all or part of a lawn with attractive, low maintenance plantings.
Hot water needs can be met with rooftop solar hot water heating systems.
Geothermal heating and cooling systems can cut heating and cooling energy costs by 25%.