Green Architecture and the Environment

Topics: Green building, Sustainable design, Architecture Pages: 5 (2036 words) Published: January 28, 2011

Green Architecture
Definition and Origin
Green architecture or Sustainable building is the practice of building homes which are environment friendly and resource efficient throughout its life time. It is a way of reacting to the global economic crisis, environmental issues, growing human population, destruction of natural resources and the loss of biodiversity. While it may seem that this practice started only a few decades ago when environmentalists and conservationist were given life, the ancient people put it up to use already way back in their own times. The Anasazi Indians, for example, had built their homes in oriented in the path of light during the day. This provided them with enough heating and sunlight for their agricultural plants. Moreover, they have “tanks” which capture rainwater. This stored water will then be used for irrigation. More importantly their houses were only made up of stones, woods and mud which are non-toxic and non – hazardous to the environment. According to some, green architecture probably started long ago, when electricity wasn’t present. That way, the people would utilize the use of their surroundings. An example of this is planting plants and trees around their abode to provide cool ventilation. Either way, green architecture for the older generation was used, because of the lack of technology. However, in the modern times, green architecture gained popularity, because of the high costs of energy dependent lifestyles and the increasing environmental awareness. Goals and Elements

Green architecture’s main goals are to reduce human exposure to toxic materials, conserve non renewable materials, use energy, water and other resources efficiently, improve household productivity and good design. Sustainable building uses energy efficiently by incorporating more windows to its design and placing them in such a way that air will flow normally. Windows are usually triple or double glazed to pacify the intensity of the heat/ light entering the room and for better insulation. Green architecture also uses passive solar design and solar panels for heating and lighting. Another important aspect of energy efficiency is good insulation. Green houses use materials with high thermal mass to retain heat and coolness effectively. To help the environment is one of the goals of green architecture and it does so by refraining from using endangered materials such some species of trees. Recycled and rapidly replenished materials such as bamboo are used instead. For example, in the construction of houses in wooded areas, the trees that were cut were used in some parts of the building. Green building also uses low-impact building materials whenever possible. These are materials that are made from low VOC (volatile organic compound)-emitting materials such recycled denim or cellulose insulation. These materials are better compared to normal building materials that contain formaldehyde and carcinogenic compounds. Materials with high VOCs are suspected of causing the sick building syndrome. Materials with high VOCs include paints and coatings. They have low water solubility and high vapor pressure. Though harmful compounds such as formaldehyde are naturally existing a study by the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Miami found out that green building materials emitted lower VOCs, safe for human exposure compared to traditional building materials. Sustainable building stresses the use of renewable energy by using solar panels to acquire solar energy for energy consumption in the household. Wind turbines are also used to generate power through the use of wind. Solar Water Heating (SWH) are also used as substitutes for electrically generated heaters. Solar Water Heating basically uses heat energy coming from the sun to generate hot waters. Electric-resistance water heaters that are common in homes today have an electrical demand around 4500...

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