Green buildings and green homes are structures that make use of environmentally responsible and resource-efficient processes through all the stages of their making – starting from design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. They focus on eliminating the negative impacts and increasing the positive impacts of the construction process over climate and resources.
The goal of a Green Building
Technologies are constantly evolving to make traditional buildings more sustainable or ‘green’. However, green building as a concept focuses on reducing the overall impact of an artificial environment (building) on its natural counterpart. They strive to reduce waste and pollution, adopt green energy sources, use green practices of construction and enhance wellbeing of the inhabitants.
As of November 2018, nearly 14 lakh houses in India have chosen to go for a ‘green building’. This is about 6.33 billion sq ft. However, this constitutes a miniscule 5% of total residential properties present in the country. India has an ambitious target of having 10 billion sq ft green building footprint by 2022. This is expected to increase the green footprint in India by around 10%.
Characteristics of a Green Building
- Materials: Construction and deconstruction of a building generates a huge amount of waste. Green building focus on reducing material wherever possible and the ones that used are locally-produced, sustainable, non-toxic, ethically sourced, energy-efficient and long-lasting. For example, a green building would make use of bamboo instead of lumber
- Water and Energy: Houses place a huge demand on municipal departments for water and electricity. Canada, for example, accounts 45% of its greenhouse gas emissions to households. Green houses adopt processes to reduce energy consumption, both during construction and post the delivery of the structure. They are also sensitive to their surroundings and ensure the land, the local community, and the climate at large is not affected by their developmental activities. A huge emphasis is laid on renewable energy systems like solar grids, solar water heating, etc.
- Design and Structure: Design and Planning are a major step in the completion of any construction project. When working on creating a green building/home, the focus is on reducing the environmental impact of all the stages in the project. What the structure is made of, where and how it is made, and who is benefitted from its transformation – all these are important questions that need to be addressed.
- Process: Here we try to avoid a narrow outlook of green construction on the environment and society. Instead, we try to assess the impacts associated with all stages of the process; extraction of materials, sourcing of materials, processing of these inputs, actual construction, use of the building, its maintenance and repair, and finally its deconstruction.
- Home Health: Green homes focus on natural ways to improve the health of the house in terms of better ventilation, natural lighting, and natural methods to curb germs, bacteria, fungus, and insects. They integrate design and furnishing elements that are non-toxic and natural
- Waste: Green architecture focuses on reducing waste of water, materials and energy during construction. They also help reduce the amount of waste that is generated by the inhabitants by sustainable practices like composting
Cost of a Green Building
Green buildings are often criticized for being expensive due to the use of renewable energy, high-tech appliances and modern technology. Maintenance and repair of these technologies and other natural materials is also expensive. Thinking of the expenses, housing finance for green homes is also not a usual norm in the market. Despite these difficulties, what is important to understand here is the premium that one pays for building a green home is recovered by the yield one gets.
Green buildings and green homes are the future of modern architecture. They offer environmental, economic and social returns that cannot be overlooked. Different countries have different resources, environmental factors, and economic and social priorities at play – all these factors need to be accounted for before constructing a suitable green building.
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