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Marching towards a green future by the technology.

Globally, buildings are responsible for a huge share of energy, electricity, water and materials consumption. As of 2018, buildings account for 28% of global emissions or 9.7 billion tonnes of CO2. The United Nations’ 2020 global status report and other sources detail that around 35-40% of globally generated energy was used by buildings. which also contributed to 33% of worldwide emissions. Including the manufacturing of building materials, the global CO2 emissions were 39%. If new technologies in construction are not adopted during this time of rapid growth, emissions could double by 2050, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

Green building practices aim to reduce the environmental impact of building as the building sector has the greatest potential to deliver significant cuts in emissions at little or no cost. . General guidelines can be summarized as follows: Every building should be as small as possible. Avoid contributing to sprawl, even if the most energy-efficient, environmentally sound methods are used in design and construction. Bioclimatic design principles are able to reduce energy expenditure and by extension, carbon emissions. Bioclimatic design is a method of designing infrastructure within the context of their respective environment while using the surroundings to advantage whenever possible. This could be as simple as constructing a different shape for the building envelope or facing the building towards the south to maximize solar exposure for energy or lighting purposes. Given the limitations of city planned construction, bioclimatic principles may be employed on a lesser scale, however it is still an effective passive method to reduce environmental impact.

Buildings account for a large amount of land. According to the National Resources Inventory, approximately 107 million acres (430,000 km2) of land in the United States are developed. The International Energy Agency released a publication that estimated that existing buildings are responsible for more than 40% of the world’s total primary energy consumption and for 24% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

According to Global status report from the year 2016, buildings consume more than 30% of all produced energy. The report states that “Under a below 2°C trajectory, effective action to improve building energy efficiency could limit building final energy demand to just above current levels, meaning that the average energy intensity of the global building stock would decrease by more than 80% by 2050”.

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Goals of green building

Blu Homes mkSolaire, a green building designed by Michelle Kaufmann.

Taipei 101, the tallest and largest green building of LEED Platinum certification in the world since 2011.

The concept of sustainable development can be traced to the energy (especially fossil oil) crisis and environmental pollution concerns of the 1960s and 1970s. The Rachel Carson book, “Silent Spring“, published in 1962, is considered to be one of the first initial efforts to describe sustainable development as related to green building. The green building movement in the U.S. originated from the need and desire for more energy efficient and environmentally friendly construction practices. There are a number of motives for building green, including environmental, economic, and social benefits. However, modern sustainability initiatives call for an integrated and synergistic design to both new construction and in the retrofitting of existing structures. Also known as sustainable design, this approach integrates the building life-cycle with each green practice employed with a design-purpose to create a synergy among the practices used.

Green building brings together a vast array of practices, techniques, and skills to reduce and ultimately eliminate the impacts of buildings on the environment and human health. It often emphasizes taking advantage of renewable resources, e.g., using sunlight through passive solaractive solar, and photovoltaic equipment, and using plants and trees through green roofsrain gardens, and reduction of rainwater run-off. Many other techniques are used, such as using low-impact building materials or using packed gravel or permeable concrete instead of conventional concrete or asphalt to enhance replenishment of groundwater.

While the practices or technologies employed in green building are constantly evolving and may differ from region to region, fundamental principles persist from which the method is derived: siting and structure design efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, materials efficiency, indoor environmental quality enhancement, operations and maintenance optimization and waste and toxics reduction. The essence of green building is an optimization of one or more of these principles. Also, with the proper synergistic design, individual green building technologies may work together to produce a greater cumulative effect.

On the aesthetic side of green architecture or sustainable design is the philosophy of designing a building that is in harmony with the natural features and resources surrounding the site. There are several key steps in designing sustainable buildings: specify ‘green’ building materials from local sources, reduce loads, optimize systems, and generate on-site renewable energy.

A ‘green’ building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life.

Waste reduction

Green architecture also seeks to reduce waste of energy, water and materials used during construction. For example, in California nearly 60% of the state’s waste comes from commercial buildings. During the construction phase, one goal should be to reduce the amount of material going to landfills. Well-designed buildings also help reduce the amount of waste generated by the occupants as well, by providing on-site solutions such as compost bins to reduce matter going to landfills.

To reduce the amount of wood that goes to landfill, Neutral Alliance (a coalition of government, NGOs and the forest industry) created the website dontwastewood.com. The site includes a variety of resources for regulators, municipalities, developers, contractors, owner/operators and individuals/homeowners looking for information on wood recycling.

When buildings reach the end of their useful life, they are typically demolished and hauled to landfills. Deconstruction is a method of harvesting what is commonly considered “waste” and reclaiming it into useful building material. Extending the useful life of a structure also reduces waste – building materials such as wood that are light and easy to work with make renovations easier.

To reduce the impact on wells or water treatment plants, several options exist. “Greywater“, wastewater from sources such as dishwashing or washing machines, can be used for subsurface irrigation, or if treated, for non-potable purposes, e.g., to flush toilets and wash cars. Rainwater collectors are used for similar purposes.

Centralized wastewater treatment systems can be costly and use a lot of energy. An alternative to this process is converting waste and wastewater into fertilizer, which avoids these costs and shows other benefits. By collecting human waste at the source and running it to a semi-centralized biogas plant with other biological waste, liquid fertilizer can be produced. This concept was demonstrated by a settlement in Lübeck Germany in the late 1990s. Practices like these provide soil with organic nutrients and create carbon sinks that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, offsetting greenhouse gas emission. Producing artificial fertilizer is also more costly in energy than this process.

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