Green Buildings: The Way of the Future

Filip ZofakisEnergy

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green-buildingBuildings are no longer just useful to protect us from extreme nature phenomena. The spaces where we live and work have an impact on both our health and the environment in a myriad of ways. As we develop a greater understanding of this environmental connection, the novel concept of “green buildings” has emerged.

Green in this context refers to sustainable building practices that center around the theme of creating and using resource-efficient models. This encompasses the whole building’s life-cycle, from design all the way to deconstruction. The movement of sustainable buildings has gathered more official clout from the 90s on and is fast becoming a best practice to aspire to.

Buildings account for roughly 39% of total energy use. Adopting green building strategies can produce multiple environmental benefits, such as conservation and restoration of natural resources, as well as improving air and water quality. Reducing the environmental footprint of buildings can be accomplished through the most efficient use of water, energy, and other resources. Use of local and renewable materials and passive solar design should be preferred. Furthermore, another major goal of this initiative is reducing waste, pollution, and degradation. All of this eventually leads to protecting the occupants’ health and improving their quality of life and productivity.

However, there are also significant economic advantages. Examples of those are a reduction in operating costs and an optimization of the building’s life-cycle economic performance. Additional benefits of a social nature include enhancing comfort and health and minimizing the strain on local infrastructure.

The goal is to reach the “zero energy home”, which implies a home that produces as much energy as it consumes. This concept can also be applied to office buildings, where thousands of workers spend a large part of their daily lives. New initiatives and policies have been instituted by governments and NGO’s, such as the LEED rating system and the International Green Construction Code. Recently the world’s greenest office building honor was awarded to Deloitte’s European headquarters in Amsterdam. The Edge, as it has been named, has the highest ­sustainability score ever awarded by the British rating agency BREEAM: 98.4 percent. Besides that, it also exemplifies the connected future of architecture and has served as a testing ground for new ways of working and innovative applications of the Internet of Things.

With the advent of new technologies arise significant opportunities to reinvent our traditional buildings and move towards a novel type of living and working that is also environmentally friendly. The following video can give you a sneak peek of the bright future that lies ahead:

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Additional talks about this topic can be found here:

Ted Talks Sustainability Design

References:

http://archive.epa.gov/greenbuilding/web/html/about.html

http://www.greenbuilding.com/

http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-the-edge-the-worlds-greenest-building/

https://www.ted.com/playlists/28/sustainability_by_design

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