As the world’s urban population expands, architects and planners are mapping out ways to make cities more sustainable. Cities produce a vast amount of emissions and waste, putting a strain on both human and ecological health. But our buildings themselves may hold a solution. High-density urban areas—especially those built using green methods in design and construction—can be more energy efficient and pollute lessThe environmentally-conscious construction (and operation) of buildings. For many good reasons, green construction is becoming more common. Several of these reasons are outlined in a recent article from Smart Cities Dive.
Green building practices
Whether you’re building new or retrofitting an existing structure, there are many ways to implement eco-friendly building practices. Minimizing (or eliminating) the negative impact a proposed (or existing) building has on the environment and surrounding community is the common goal of these green technology approaches.
Green building benefits
The environmental benefits of eco-friendly construction are obvious, but there are other compelling reasons to implement green building practices that may not immediately come to mind. Examples include:
- Healthier and happier workers—employees that work in green buildings report fewer headaches, as well as improvements in asthma and allergy symptoms.
- Reduced energy costs.
- The ability to attract and retain top talent.
- The greater likelihood a green building will sell for more money than a standard building.
- Additional business opportunities that come from appealing to an ever-growing pool of conscious consumers.
Green Building – from the idea through to operation
The appropriate building design is the first step on the road to achieving a green building; this means specifying the right solutions for effective control of the building’s energy requirements.
Products installed must meet demanding environmental requirements. Evidenced by standards conformity marks, this compliance ensures that projects’ environmental impact is kept to a minimum, in line with sustainability principles.
75% of a building’s total cost arises during its operation, a phase in its life cycle which therefore requires specially careful attention. Users need to be equipped with the means to analyse and control how the building works, so as to reduce its environmental impact.
Controlling Energy Demand
There is a general consensus about the fact that controlling the demand for energy requires focusing on the behaviour of building occupants. They need to be made aware of the impact they can have on their own consumption, and to be given tools to command their environment in an eco-responsible way.
System management and equipment efficiency
Measuring and control devices enable effective measurement, analysis and command of a building’s energy efficiency, both locally and remotely, thereby allowing facility managers to steer consumption patterns. As lighting is the second biggest factor causing energy consumption in buildings, one advisable move is to set up a lighting management system ranging from simple presence detection through to smart dimming.
Intrinsic building quality
A building’s energy requirement will be shaped by construction factors such as the materials used (e.g. wood vs. concrete), the amount of glazed surface, its orientation facing South or North, etc. The electrical infrastructure must not be installed to the detriment of the building’s intrinsic quality; to avoid such impact on the structure itself, cold bridges need to be avoided.
Building a share of renewable energies
As we consume steadily rising amounts of energy, this consumption will need to be increasingly offset by the fitting of renewable energy sources directly in buildings.