A study conducted in the US showed that buildings accounted for 40 percent of U.S. energy use and 40 percent of atmospheric emissions, including greenhouse gases. When the concept of green buildings started gaining currency, conscious consumers realized that maximum benefits could be achieved if the decision to go green started at the drawing board level. Soon the term green design became part of common parlance.
What is Green Design?
A green design involves a holistic approach to the built environment, addressing all aspects of building and system planning, design, construction, and operation. In addition to appearance, layout, site suitability and weather conditions, the building also takes into account all the resources that go into the building, be it materials, fuel, water, renewable and non renewable resources and energy consumption during the life-cycle of the building. The impact of each design decision on the environment is critically evaluated and solutions that minimize the negative impacts and enhance the positive impacts on the environment are finally selected. The architect seeks suggestions from the occupants, the landscape designer, the air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, and energy consultants to arrive at a feasible solution.
Attributes of Green Design
- Effective site planning.
- Minimizes the depletion of natural resources during the construction and operation of the building.
- Minimizes the demand of non-renewable resources.
- Maximize the utilization efficiency of non-renewable resources.
- Maximize the use of efficient building materials and construction practices.
- Maximize the reuse, recycling, and utilization of renewable resources.
- Optimize the use of on-site resources.
- Introduces bio-climatic architectural practices.
- Uses efficient waste and water management practices.
- Uses efficient equipment to meet its lighting, air-conditioning, and other needs.
- Maximizes the use of renewable sources of energy.
- Uses efficient waste and water management practices.
- Provides comfortable and hygienic indoor working conditions.
Green design emphasizes a number of new environmental, resource and occupant health concerns by
- Reducing human exposure to toxic materials.
- Conserving non-renewable energy and scarce materials.
- Minimizing life-cycle ecological impact of energy and materials used.
- Using renewable energy and materials that are sustainably harvested.
- Protecting and restore local air, water, soils, flora and fauna.
- Supporting pedestrians, bicycles, mass transit and other alternatives to fossil-fueled vehicles.
Tips for Green Designs
- Design should take advantage of the site layout.
- Use high levels of insulation.
- Have windows facing the sun — East and West.
- Go for a well sealed construction.
- To save inefficient exterior envelope, leave no gap between two adjacent structures .
- Go for passive solar heating, daylighting, and natural cooling.
- Provide cross ventilation and heat chimneys.
- Install solar water heaters.
- Southern roofs can have a slope of 40 to 55 degrees for optimal solar energy absorption.
- Use standard size materials to minimize waste.
- Avoid waste from structural over-design.
- Install recycling bins near the kitchen and under-sink compost receptacles.
- Build rooftop water catchment systems and see if there is a away the occupants can channelise graywater: used water from sinks, showers, or clothes washers for watering their gardens.
The Problems faced while going for Green Designs
Green designs need to meet several structural standards. They prove expensive from all points of view. In addition to the material costing more, the architect, plumber, electrician, landscape designer all end up costing more in most cases. The building also needs to meet more structural specifications.
However, the higher cost at the time of construction is more than offset by lower maintenance and utility charges during the lifecycle of the building. But if the occupants are senior citizens then green design eats into their limited income and the charm of lower operational costs does not attract them as they see their future as uncertain.
In addition to higher costs, sometimes, the limitations of the site also make it difficult to go green.
Difference between Sustainable Design and Green Design
People often refer to sustainable design as green design and vice-versa. This is not correct. “Green Design” is a small, but important subset of what defines “Sustainable Design.” “Sustainability” is a much more inclusive criterion. In addition to minimizing the impact of the building on the environment, it also focuses on it uses energy, how the materials of its construction are derived, and how, over the life of the building, including its eventual demolition, it will diminish the finite resources of our planet. It includes the impact that the building will have on its occupants, especially as it relates to the issues of comfort, health, and well-being. The operation of the building, including the way it is maintained, also has an effect on the environment. This includes the use of solvents in cleaning, disposable materials from air conditioning filters, lamps and carpeting, and the use of nonrenewable energy resources such as fossil fuels. It is the thoughtful integration of architecture with electrical, mechanical, and structural engineering. In addition to concern for the traditional aesthetics of massing, proportion, scale, texture, shadow, and light, the facility design team needs to be concerned with long term costs: environmental, economic, and human.