Green architecture encompasses a powerful set of building concepts, principles, materials, and techniques that can reduce humanity’s impact on our shared environment and even fight climate change. It’s more than just a passing trend; it’s a movement that is here to stay. But despite its importance, there are still many myths about green architecture that need to be debunked. In this blog post, we will explore 10 of the most common myths about green architecture and reveal the valuable truth behind each one.
Myth One: Green building is expensive.
A common refrain is that green buildings are expensive, from the design to the materials and maintenance and beyond.
While it is true that green buildings can have a higher initial cost, the long-term savings on energy and water bills pay for themselves. In fact, energy- and water-efficient green buildings have been shown to have a significantly lower total cost of ownership over their lifetime. For example, design principles like passive solar design take advantage of sunlight to reduce a building’s heating and cooling needs. In addition, there are many ways to make green building more affordable at the outset. For example, builders can use reclaimed or recycled materials.
Myth Two: It’s just a fad.
Detractors are often quick to argue that green or sustainable architecture is a fad. Thus, they insist it isn’t worth investing in.
The notion that sustainability is a fad couldn’t be further from the truth, especially given the reality of accelerating climate change. Energy efficiency and sustainability in our built environment is more important now than ever before. Given this increasing awareness of sustainability, more and more people are looking for ways to live and work in environmentally friendly buildings. They’re looking for homes and workplaces that protect their physical and mental health via features like natural sunlight, biophilic design elements, and non-toxic paints, furnishings, and other fixtures. Sustainable architecture is clearly here to say.
Myth Three: All green buildings look like they were designed by hippies.
Some people equate green architecture with outdated, 1970s designs that read as “hippie,” unsophisticated, and certainly not sleek or modern. Others have the idea that green architecture only produces “concept buildings” they would never consider owning. However, just because some famous examples of green architecture look a certain way, that doesn’t mean that sustainability is limited to a certain aesthetic.
Green architecture encompasses a range of different styles and aesthetics, and it is certainly not limited to, for example, New Age-y geodesic domes or futuristic designs. There are many beautiful green buildings all over the world, from modernist masterpieces to more traditional buildings that have been retrofitted with sustainable features. In the end, the appearance isn’t that important. What these buildings have in common is a commitment to sustainability, whether it’s through the use of renewable building materials, energy-efficient systems, or water-saving fixtures.
Myth Four: Sustainability requires sacrifice; otherwise, it’s unachievable.
One common myth about green architecture is that it’s unachievable—that we can’t possibly make our buildings and homes sustainable without sacrificing our comfort, convenience, and a lot of our hard-earned cash.
While it’s true that sustainability requires a bit more thought and a greater initial expense, it’s definitely achievable, and it doesn’t require any real sacrifice. Green architecture creates buildings that promote people’s well-being. Plus, there are many small steps we can take to make our buildings more sustainable. For example, insulating our homes to reduce energy consumption, installing solar panels to generate renewable energy, or using low-flow fixtures to conserve water. All of these small steps add up to a big difference.
Myth Five: It’s hard to source sustainable materials.
A common concern about green architecture is that it can be difficult to find sustainable building materials.
Thanks to the increasing popularity of green building, there are now more options than ever when it comes to sourcing sustainable materials. For instance, there are many companies specializing in eco-friendly products, from bamboo flooring to timbercrete to cross-laminated timber. And thanks to new technologies, it’s getting easier and easier to recycle and reuse existing materials as well.
Myth Six: People don’t care about living or working in green buildings.
One rather silly myth about green architecture is that people don’t really care about where they live or work.
The truth is that more and more people are looking for ways to live and work in environmentally friendly buildings. A recent survey found that nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for a home or office that was certified green. And another study found that employees who work in green buildings are happier and healthier than those who don’t. It’s clear people do care about sustainability.
Myth Seven: Green buildings don’t make a difference
Another common myth about green architecture is that sustainable buildings don’t make a difference—that they’re just a drop in the bucket compared to the overall impact of industry, transportation, energy, and other sources of greenhouse gas pollution.
It’s obvious that coal power plants and freeways packed with gasoline-powered cars produce significant amounts of the greenhouses gases that are driving climate change. But the truth is that our built environment generates around 50% of global carbon dioxide emissions each year. This means buildings contribute significantly to climate change—and green architecture is one way to reduce this impact.
Myth Eight: It’s all about the tech.
Some people think that green architecture is all about technology—for example, smart thermostats that can automatically adjust a home’s heating and cooling.
Yes, there are some amazing technologies out there that can help make our buildings more sustainable, and we should embrace these solutions. However, green architecture is also about using simple, lower-tech strategies like passive solar design, natural ventilation, and daylighting. It’s about working with nature, not against it.
Myth Nine: Construction waste management isn’t important.
Another myth about green architecture is that construction waste management isn’t really significant, and that the operation of the building—its use of energy and water over its lifetime—is more important in assessing its sustainability.
Though a building’s energy and water use is critical, construction waste accounts for a huge percentage of the waste generated each year. So, it’s important to make sure that we’re recycling and reusing as much as possible. By doing things like salvaging materials from old buildings or using recycled materials in new construction, we can reduce the amount of waste going into landfill sites.
Myth Ten: Green buildings can’t work on a larger scale.
Some people erroneously believe that green architecture is just for individual homes, usually owned by wealthy people.
But the truth is that sustainable design is just as important for big projects as it is for small ones—green architecture can definitely go big. For example, materials like mass timber provide a way to create multi-story commercial buildings without the emissions associated with concrete and steel production. In addition, there are many examples of large-scale sustainable developments all over the world, from entire neighborhoods built using passive solar principles to district heating systems that provide energy-efficient heating to blocks of homes and businesses.
So, there you have it: the top ten common myths about green architecture and the valuable truths behind them. These myths are persistent, so it’s worth spending time debunking them. The next time you hear someone spread these myths, counter them with the information you’ve learned here.