Since decades people started building and have had an impact upon nature. They piled stones together for shelters, tombs, castles, and houses, altering the waterways, cleared woodlands, and underground water table. Today, the footprint has become an ethical and environmental matter that impacts all forms of life.
Thirty-six percent of global energy is devoted to buildings, and 8 percent of global emissions are caused by cement alone. Past three decades, many have spoken about sustainability, but now it is time to act. Every particular thing we build from now on should be eco-sensitive, energy-efficient, cost-efficient, people-centered, and value-based. Otherwise, survival itself becomes a question.
This not just making a building sustainable, eco-friendly that have low energy demands and cool the interiors naturally, but more about taking things into account like the surroundings, micro-climate, landscape, terrains, etc. Now the question is, how do we design and build spaces that so not intrude nature, but most importantly exist as an extension of it. So many environments we build new structures in are ‘human-made,’ meaning, there is the majority of construction where humans already dwell in significant numbers.
When climate change is taken into context, we have to design with nature for withstanding hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires. Designers not only resist the human and natural forces but instead need to intervene in ways that account for and respond. We are always told that humans pose a threat to climate change challenging the existence of the species.
So what are the main elements of a green building?
- Materials: The sustainability of a building material depends on their durability, embodied energy, recycled content, and their ability to be reused and recycled.
- Water: Harvesting water by storing and managing it when it falls from the sky, we can conserve water.
- Energy: Using smart energy sources and insulations is one step closer to green buildings like – using solar panels in design, reducing the building’s electricity needs, etc.
- Health: Using non-toxic materials and products will improve indoor air quality, and reduce the rate of health risks.
- Plants: Integrating living green and vegetation in and on top of buildings will benefit the structure and its dwellers and the city as well. Plants also serve as ‘the green lungs’ of the building.
The natural world is the master of eco-system based on billions of years of evolution by describing a sustainable system that will not only make it dwell but also become a part of nature again. As all is a part of a bigger eco-system, you can say that: this building is a part of a group of buildings and these buildings then together are a part of a city.
For building a community of dwellers:
- Patches of green on unused surfaces like roofs, walls, attract wildlife which will further stimulate biodiversity.
- Indoor ‘zen’ gardens in our houses, offices will let people work in a biophilic environment to increase concentration and peace of mind.
- Community gardens in every block will bring people together – giving food and nutrition concerning urban connections.
- Indoor plantations with efficient and day to day common food production within the built environment will use water and energy to produce food locally.
- A marketplace where locals buy and sell their produced food will be a source of social gathering.
- Rainwater harvesting in every dwelling. Use of collected and stored rainwater with greywater filtration for reuse of water.
- Generating energy from sustainable and renewable resources used to generate power for the community.
- Organic waste like food, vegetables, etc. can be composted to create nutritious material for nurturing vegetations and plants.
To sum it all up, there is no such thing as ‘one’ perfect solution for building green. As one can imagine, there are too many external factors and behaviors that need to be prioritized first by the possibilities of integrating green solutions. An optimal building will be a collection of different systems within a community and will depend on one another for a lasting impact.
Today’s new challenge is to bring nature to cities, urban areas, civilizations on a scale that correlated to the speed of global urbanization. How we do it is how we choose!
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