What is a green building? The World Green Business Council defines a green building like this:“A ‘green’ building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts on our climate and natural environment.”
This target is possible through an integrated view and process focused on the relationship between the built environment and the natural one.
Basically the concept is to reduce the negative impacts of the buildings on the surrounding and the society, trying to make a positive impact instead. This is achievable using different methods such a smart material selection, the reduction of energy used, and the management of water. What is more, the green approach could be adopted not only when the building is “ready to use” but also during previous different phases whether the planning, the design, the construction, or the operations.
All About LEED
Today is possible to measure different performance and the innovation level through a certification program: LEED. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and it recognizes and rewards the best practices in this field, considering the impact on health and wellbeing of people and the planet, the maximization of occupant’s health and productivity, the use and the waste of resources and the lifecycle costs.
Parameters used by LEED to rate a building
Source: The cost Efficiency of LEED Certification, LEED architecture
The concept of a green building tends to differ from one country to another, depending on characteristics such climate conditions, cultures, traditions, building type and other things. In general any building could be green, like homes, schools, offices, hospitals, gyms, even churches.
The Net-Zero building
The general meaning of Net-Zero is that there is not any surplus nor deficit of something, so adding gains and losses together “zero” will be the result. This principle can be applied to buildings in terms of emission and consumption. In other words a NZB is a building that produces the exact amount of energy that it consumes. It might seem an imaginary utopia, but this has actually become real and there are many different examples including both new buildings and existing renovated constructions.
In practical terms to make a building self-sufficient, first of all you should install a suitable solar panel system, proportionate with the capacity of the building’s electric features. Moreover, to increase the general performance of the grid, devices such a battery storage, compressed air energy storage and flywheels could be complementary to the PV.
David Shad, engineer and futurist, suggests the solution of NTB to solve the worldwide energy crisis due to exponential population growth. In his vision people in the future will be even paid for the energy used rather than having to pay for it, if their building can produce more than it consumes causing a surplus.
As Shad claims, to take the first steps toward a pathway to reduce our footprint we need to focus on the right industries, starting from our buildings. We can individually make a difference starting from our home, installing the right systems and reducing waste.
Percentage of energy consumption in different sectors
The most ecofriendly building in the world
Examples of green building around the world are increasing. Investing in such construction now might be expensive, but there is high payback over time. It’s an investment for our and future generations health and wellness. Let’s look at some examples of environmentally friendly buildings from around the world:
Centre For Interactive Research on Sustainability (British Columbia, Canada)
It’s a scientific center, opened in 2011, built by architectural firm Perkins and Will. The fundamental concept was “sustainable living”. In fact the developers tried to realize a project with a positive impact on the environment. They created a lighting and water system that uses the absolute bare minimum resources; lights turn off if motion is not detected in most parts of the building and other areas are controlled by switches. In addition, the use of plants and vegetation helps shade the building in the summer and retain heat during the winter, avoiding as much as possible the need for air conditioning or heater. Solar panels are located all over the roof, creating a surplus of energy each year.
Pixel building (Melbourne, Australia)
That is an office building and it is actually the first carbon neutral construction. It was designed by Studio 505 and realized in 2011. It’s completely self sustaining, that means that it can collect all of its own water and generate all of its own energy. What’s more, it has a green roof that grows tons of native plants and it even has an anaerobic digester which converts human waste into heat. Aside from that, it’s funky looking and its colors break the monotony of the old grey blocks.
The Crystal (London, UK)
Described as “the world's largest exhibition on the future of cities, as well as one of the world's most sustainable buildings and events venues” the Crystal was designed by award winning architects Wilkinson Eyre and it’s been open since 2012. With the shape of a gem, it has a series of spaces and rooms suitable for offices, conferences, and meetings and also features an auditorium.
The building utilizes solar panels for all its electric facilities and a geothermal system in the ground to generate enough electricity to power the building.
Interested to see more green buildings? A few more are below!
Pearl River Tower (Cina)
The Edge (Amsterdam)
Gardens by the Bay (Singapore)
Inspired to green your home or office? Our team can create a solar retrofit system to save you money while reducing your environmental impact.