The world is facing many environmental challenges. We are overpopulated, water is scarce, and our planet’s natural resources are being destroyed at an alarming rate. However, it isn’t all bad news. A newer trend called green architecture can help ease many of these problems. Read on to learn the benefits of green architectural practices and how they can help save the environment.
What Is Green Architecture?
Green architecture refers to the design and construction of environmentally friendly buildings. Green buildings use natural resources sustainably, which means they do not negatively impact the environment. Green architecture can include the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, as well as features that conserve water and reduce energy consumption.
It can also relate specifically to materials, such as those that are sustainably sourced. For example, bamboo and eucalyptus are much more environmentally friendly flooring options than traditional hardwood.
How Can Green Architecture Save the Environment?
There are many benefits to green architecture. These are related to design, ingenuity, and materials. The following are a few positive impacts green architecture has on the environment:
Conserving Natural Resources
One of the most important aspects of green architecture is that it can help conserve natural resources. Renewable energy sources are free and abundant, so using them in place of more traditional methods decreases our reliance on fossil fuels. This reduces pollution created by burning coal or gas for heat or power, which harms the environment. Green architecture can also help conserve water and other natural materials.
Reducing Energy Costs
Green architectural practices also have economic benefits. They may cost slightly more to implement at first, but they will save money over time because they reduce costs associated with heating and cooling buildings and purchasing electricity from utility companies.
Green buildings often use high-quality insulation materials to keep warm air inside during winter months while blocking hot temperatures during summer months. Natural light is also used to brighten rooms and reduce the need for artificial lighting. By utilizing environmentally friendly materials and careful design, green buildings can reduce energy costs and reliance on utilities.
Additionally, rainwater harvesting systems can be installed to collect rainwater from rooftops and use it for gardening or flushing toilets. This reduces demand on local water supplies, which is important given the growing problem of water scarcity around the world.
Many buildings designed with an emphasis on green architecture also utilize other methods of reducing water consumption. For example, dual-flush toilets or waterless urinals can be installed to use less water. This is also a great example of how even small changes, accessible to the average homeowner, can make a big difference.
Increasing Green Spaces
Green architecture can also help improve our environment in other ways. For example, it can create more green spaces by installing plants and trees on roofs or balconies. These green spaces act as “green lungs” that improve air quality and provide a natural habitat for birds and other animals.
Green spaces have been shown to have numerous environmental impacts. They fight pollution, lower rising temperatures, and contribute to better physical health for nearby residents.
One of the most innovative new trends in green architecture is using materials that can help lower temperatures. For example, in very warm places like Phoenix, Arizona, decades of urban sprawl and concrete construction have created an “urban heat island.” This is a metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surroundings due to the large number of dark surfaces (such as asphalt and concrete) that absorb heat during the day and release it at night.
Green architecture can help by using reflective materials that bounce sunlight back into the atmosphere instead of absorbing it. This helps reduce temperatures in urban areas, which improves air quality and reduces energy costs for residents and businesses.
Using Carbon-Smart Materials
Steel and concrete production contributes massively to pollution and carbon emissions. This takes a huge toll on our environment. However, many architects are now opting for “carbon smart” materials versus traditional building materials. These green materials include bamboo, hempcrete, sheep’s wool, straw-bale, and wood.
Retrofitting Existing Buildings
It may seem like many green features are only available in new buildings. While that’s somewhat true, that’s not the whole story. Many architects and cities are working to retrofit existing buildings and spaces. Homeowners can retrofit their properties to help the environment and lower energy costs, as well.
Green architecture has many benefits for our environment. It can save energy, conserve natural resources, and reduce temperatures in cities. By using green architectural practices both in our homes and on larger, public projects, we can make our world a more sustainable place for future generations.