The green wave that is sweeping across the infrastructure sector has become the driving force behind cutting-edge innovation, design and technology.
Living with an elevated sense of urgency for reversing climate change and coping with the threat of global biodiversity loss and environmental safety concerns has inspired a dynamic social shift towards sustainable living that is driving global trends in architecture, interior design and consumer goods.
Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.
Let us look at the key components of green buildings.
Intelligent Energy Usage
Interior fittings and electrical appliances consume a significant amount of energy. Thus, for interior spaces to be energy efficient, renewable and low-carbon technologies must be integrated to meet buildings’ energy needs and maximise their natural efficiency during the design and construction phase.
Energy efficiency can be increased by orienting buildings to take full advantage of seasonal changes, sun’s position and using diversified and locally available energy sources like solar, water, geothermal, etc. Buildings adapted to its geographical location are more comfortable to live in and have lower maintenance costs. Additionally, the price of going green for consumers is paid back through cost saving on energy expenses and long-term gains.
Research shows that green architecture can not only reduce water waste through water-efficient plumbing fixtures, but also lower the stress on shared water resources.
Increasing water efficiency includes exploring ways to improve drinking and wastewater efficiency and management using innovative systems and technology to harvest rainwater for safe indoor use and minimize overall water use and wastage in buildings.
Water efficient buildings can significantly reduce dependence on external sources of water and are less likely to be impacted by municipal water shortages.
Material Usage Considering all Stages of a Building’s Lifecycle
The use of green building materials and products for construction promotes conservation of dwindling natural non-renewable resources and helps reduce wide ranging environmental impacts associated with extraction, manufacturing and transportation of these materials.
In India, the construction sector contributes 9% to the nation’s GDP and is expected to remain buoyant due to increased demand from the real estate and infrastructure sectors. As a result, the demand for raw materials from the construction sector will continue to grow in the coming years.
The use of green building material eliminates unnecessary material usage as they are designed to have lower environmental impact and maximise social and economic value throughout building’s lifecycle, from design, construction, operation and maintenance to renovation and eventual demolition.
Resilient and Flexible Structures
Buildings that are resilient are also able to withstand intense natural and manmade disasters. Buildings can be designed to be flexible and dynamic, using durable low carbon input materials. Anticipating requirement use over time helps avoid the need to demolish, rebuild or significantly renovate these spaces.
A responsible waste management system is a key component of any green building. It ensures that the waste generated during various phases of a building’s lifecycle has minimal environmental, societal and economic impact.
Efficient waste management includes effective strategies to reduce pollution, reduce/reuse/recycle solid waste and effective wastewater management.
It is also important to note that the decisions made during the design and construction phase of a building dictates the sustainable viability of the waste management system during the occupancy phase.
Green architecture and design enhance indoor environments by bringing in fresh air through ventilation and creative floor plan, incorporating natural light and ensuring good acoustics. It also warrants that the materials used are not toxic in the long run.
The indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is used to assess air quality, lighting, thermal conditions, ergonomics—and their effects on occupants or residents. It centres around intangible elements like how an individual feels in a specific space and includes tangible outcomes like improving the quality of life, health and wellbeing of the residents, as well as increasing the resale value of the property.
Urban Green Spaces
Remediating polluted land and creating green pockets in urban spaces has been popular since the late 1960s, with the rise of ecological awareness in suburban communities across developed nations.
Creating green spaces in urban areas not only adds natural beauty to cities but gives the residents the opportunity to lead a healthy life. In addition, increasing biodiversity in urban areas reduces smog and air pollution, retains rainwater and traps carbon emissions.
Interactive Spaces for Community Development
Finally, any infrastructure project is essentially for the individuals who live in and around it. Creating interactive spaces help connect and enhance social and economic revitalization.
Contemporary sustainable architecture design blends the potential of connected technologies with the needs of times to manage ever shrinking spaces and ecological concerns to create environments that provide positive experiences.
Find out more about Indian Green Building Councils (IGBC) Green Rating Systems.