Buildings are amongst the greatest consumers of energy, more so buildings that house offices and corporate set-ups in cities. In a world where rapid urbanization results in more and more acres of built-up land, green building is a responsible way of creating built-up spaces that take away as little as possible from the land it’s built on.
A green building can be defined as any building which can use the least amount of energy, consume the least amount of water, conserve natural resources, generate minimum waste and create healthy and comfortable living spaces. The basic approach to green building takes into account various factors starting from the geographic location of the building, climate conditions, availability of material locally, to the actual layout and energy usage of the building itself. It is not only in the final use of the building but also the construction of it that energy saving is essential. Green building takes this into account and ensures that the entire process is suited to the peculiarities of the environment and the sustainability of low energy usage in the area.
When a number of green buildings are located in the same area, this creates a green zone. Green zones are the best answer so far for urban societies to reduces and maintain a low carbon footprint. For a building to be considered green, there are several parameters to be taken into consideration and met individually. These parameters are spread over three phases of construction. Let’s take a closer look at these phases.
The first phase is before the construction actually begins, which involves site selection, possibilities of soil conservation, planning the architecture in such a way as to facilitate landscape conservation and already available means of effective waste management. The second phase is during the construction of the building. It involves selection of building material that are energy saving, non-toxic and renewable, like bamboo, straw, recycled stone and recycled metal. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also suggests using recycled industrial goods like coal combustion products, foundry sand and demolition debris, in construction projects. Additionally, if this material can be sourced locally, it saves the energy involved in transporting the material.
The last phase is after the construction is over and the building has been put to the use it was intended for. No matter how energy-efficient the process of construction has been, the continued maintenance of low-energy output is critical to green buildings. Low usage of energy by harnessing solar power, saving water through rainwater harvesting and proper waste management are essential aspects of ensuring that a building stays green long after it was built.