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Green architecture and the construction trends
by Charlene Boll on 06/04/08

Green Architecture is a concept of designing buildings in a manner that reduces the adverse effect of construction on the people and the environment. Green architecture includes conservation and efficient use of natural resources as also the use of indigenous and recycled material to optimizing the finances. It is literally an approach to get ‘Much More with Much Less’. The question that begs answering is: how do those old fashioned thatched roof houses remain cool in the summer? The answer lies in the advantageous use of local produce and the environment by the indigenous people in building those houses. Contemporary Green Architecture aims to identify those indigenous practices and use them to build modern homes. Optimal use of sunlight and natural wind flow pattern are an integral part of Green Architecture. The structural designs aim to incorporate appliances and electrical devices, which are energy efficient such as fluorescent lights and solar heaters. Structural designs incorporate concepts such as onsite energy generation of wind, biomass and water.

A self-sustaining ecosystem, is the model, which a holistic Green Architectural design aims to replicate. An example of a self sustaining ecosystem could be waste water recycled for gardens as well as organic wastes generated converted into manure in onsite compost pits. Reduction in the use of synthetic materials is one of the initiatives of Green Architecture. Toxic fumes generated by aging synthetic paints are a health hazard. Formaldehyde, a component of some synthetic building insulation material is a carcinogen with known health side effects. Green Architecture reduces the use of such material so as to create healthier environment. All this requires concerted effort and planned initiatives at national or international levels.

A US effort in setting standards for design and construction practices which have least negative impact on environment and people is exemplified by the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED). As per the LEED standard factors such as sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and resources and indoor environmental quality are given different weighted points. Based on the weights, certification points are calculated which are graded as Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The highest certification level offered by LEED is Platinum. The US LEED standards are being used by Canada, India and Israel for some of their Green Architecture projects. Other countries use their own standards for Green Architecture. These include Australia, France, Germany, Japan , Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand and UK to name a few.

The serious environmental conditions facing the world requires a sustained effort by the building industry to make a difference. That difference can be made by adopting Green Architecture as the standard for the future of construction.


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