Staples of Green Architecture Staples of Green Architecture

Today's energy-conscious and environmentally-friendly focus is abundantly evident in the explosive growth of green architecture. What is green architecture, and how can it help transform our society? Here are some points to consider.

What Is Green Architecture?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), green architecture, or green or sustainable building, is “the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition." Green architecture can be applied to homes, schools, commercial buildings, laboratories, and health care facilities.

EPA further defines the practice as expanding and complementing the classical building design's concerns of comfort, durability, economy, and utility.

Aspects of Green Architecture

EPA lists the aspects of green architecture as the siting of the building, its design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction or demolition.

Consumption and Environmental Impacts of Green Architecture

Green buildings and architecture are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment (the structures) on human health, as well as the natural environment. Green architecture principles include:

    * Efficient use of energy, water and other resources
    * Efforts to protect occupant health and improve employee productivity
    * Methods to reduce waste, pollution, and environmental degradation

Green building and architecture may incorporate sustainable materials into construction such as recycled content, reused, or made from renewable resources. Healthier indoor environments can be created using minimal pollutants (such as reduced product emissions). Landscaping can utilize native plants or designs that minimize the need for precious water resources.

Why Build Green Architecture?

Potential benefits of green building or architecture, according to the EPA, include:

    * Environmental – Protection and enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystems, improvement in air and water quality, reduced waste streams, and conserving and restoring natural resources
    * Economic – Reduced operating costs, creating and expanding markets for green products and services, improving productivity of occupants, and optimizing life-cycle economic performance.
    * Social – Enhancing the comfort and health of occupants, improving the overall quality of life, minimizing strain on local infrastructure, and heightening aesthetic qualities

Examples of Green Architecture Techniques

Green architecture seeks to take advantage of renewable resources. This may mean using sunlight through passive and active solar and photovoltaic techniques. It also includes using plants and trees through rooftop gardens, rain gardens, and green roofs, and reducing water during runoff.

Building materials typically considered green include bamboo (a naturally renewing resource), straw, lumber from forests that are certified as sustainably managed, recycled stone, and metal.

Measures to reduce energy use include:

    * High-efficiency windows
    * Insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors
    * Passive solar building design
    * Window placement to maximize daylight
    * Solar water heating

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