Heat Pumps Versus Air Conditioners: Which One Is Better for the Environment?

Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to keep cool. There are a few different options available, but two of the most popular are heat pumps and air conditioners.  

Both have their pros and cons, but which one is better for the environment? Let’s take a closer look at both options and determine which one is the more eco-friendly choice. 

What Is a Heat Pump? 

A heat pump is a device that uses a small amount of energy to move heat from one place to another. In the summer, it can be used to move heat from your home into the outside air. In the winter, it does the reverse and moves heat from the outside air into your home. 

How Does a Heat Pump Work? 

Heat pumps work by using a refrigerant to absorb heat from the air or ground. The refrigerant then transfers the heat to either the inside or outside of your home, depending on whether you are trying to cool or heat your home. 

What Are the Pros of Heat Pumps? 

There are several pros when it comes to choosing a heat pump over an air conditioner. They use less energy than air conditioners, which means they are more environmentally friendly. They can also be used in both warm and cold climates, whereas air conditioners are only helpful in warm climates. Finally, heat pumps can provide both heating and cooling, whereas air conditioners can only provide cooling. 

What Are the Cons of Heat Pumps? 

There are also a few cons to take into consideration when choosing a heat pump over an air conditioner. First, they require regular maintenance for optimal performance. Second, heat pumps cannot cool your home as quickly as an air conditioner. Finally, they are more expensive than air conditioners, which is especially unfortunate because they do not last as long as AC units do. 

What Is an Air Conditioner? 

An air conditioner is a device that removes heat from the air inside your home and transfers it to the outside air. Similar to a heat pump, it works by using a refrigerant to absorb heat from the air inside your home and then releasing it outside. 

How Does an Air Conditioner Work? 

Air conditioners work by using a refrigerant to absorb heat from the air inside your home. The refrigerant then transfers the heat to the outside air, where it is released. 

What Are the Pros of Air Conditioners? 

There are several pros when it comes to choosing an air conditioner over a heat pump. First, they can cool your home more quickly than a heat pump. Second, AC units require less maintenance than heat pumps. Finally, they are less expensive than heat pumps. 

What Are the Cons of Air Conditioners? 

There are also a few cons to take into consideration when choosing an air conditioner over a heat pump. First, they can only be used in warm climates. Next, AC units use more energy than heat pumps, which means they are less environmentally friendly. Finally, they can only provide cooling, whereas heat pumps can provide both heating and cooling. 

Which One Is Better for the Environment? 

This question is more complicated than it first appears on the surface. Because heat pumps need to be replaced more frequently, the cost of building the units, shipping them to their destination, installing them, and disposing of the old units also comes with ecological costs. Switching a household that has been wired and ducted for one type of system to the other system can be similarly challenging and expensive. 

Additionally, heat pumps are not efficient at extremely cold temperatures. This means that people who live in certain parts of the country would actually use more energy if they installed heat pumps than if they installed traditional furnaces. Finally, because heat pumps are more expensive, it may be more economical to buy an air conditioning unit with a higher SEER rating for the same price. 

The pros and cons of a heat pump versus an air conditioner are therefore too complicated to answer in a single blanket statement. However, the majority of households should at least take the question into consideration the next time they are replacing their current system. HVAC professionals in your area can provide insight into the most efficient decision for your particular situation. 

What Is On-Site Water Reuse and Why Is It Important?

On-site water reuse is becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses to reduce their environmental impact. But what is it, and why is it so important? 

In this blog post, we will discuss on-site water reuse and its benefits for businesses and the environment. We will also explore some of the best ways to implement on-site water reuse in your own home or business. 

On-Site Water Reuse: The Basics 

On-site water reuse is a process that takes wastewater from homes and businesses and recycles it for use in activities such as landscape irrigation, toilet flushing, and industrial processes. It is an important part of sustainable architecture and water management and can help reduce the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated at a centralized facility. 

On-site water reuse first came into play in the early 1990s, when the state of California mandated that all new construction include a greywater reuse system. Greywater is wastewater from baths, showers, and laundry facilities. 

Now, California uses recycled water for farm and landscape irrigation, as well as groundwater recharge. This process takes treated groundwater and returns it to the urban water supply by injecting it into underground aquifers or spreading it over land to seep down to below-ground aquifers where it can be extracted later. 

Benefits of On-Site Water Reuse 

On-site water reuse is becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses to reduce their environmental impact. That’s because on-site water reuse has many benefits for businesses and the environment. Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits: 

Saves Money—On-site water reuse can help businesses save money on their water bills. By recycling wastewater for use in activities such as landscape irrigation, you can reduce the amount of water you need to purchase from your local utility company. It’s an affordable way for businesses to keep their landscaping looking beautiful without the cost and guilt of using too much water. 

Reduces Environmental Impact—On-site water reuse helps reduce the environmental impact of business operations. Wastewater that is treated at a centralized facility can have a significant impact on the environment, as a result of things like emissions from treatment plants and the use of energy to treat wastewater. On-site water reuse eliminates or reduces the need for these types of impacts, making it a more sustainable way to manage water resources. 

Conserves Water—On-site water reuse can help businesses conserve water. By recycling wastewater for use in activities such as landscape irrigation, you can reduce the amount of fresh water that is needed to complete those tasks. This can be especially important in areas where water resources are scarce, such as much of the Western and Southwestern U.S. 

On-Site Water Reuse: Things to Keep in Mind 

When it comes to on-site water reuse, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some of the most important ones to consider if you’re planning to add such systems to your business: 

Location—On-site water reuse systems should be located close to where the wastewater will be used. This helps reduce the amount of energy needed to transport the water and can also save money on installation costs. 

Maintenance—On-site water reuse systems require regular maintenance to function properly. Be sure to budget for this when you are planning your system. 

Training—Employees will need to be trained on how to use the on-site water reuse system. Be sure to factor this in to your implementation plan. 

On-Site Water Reuse at Home 

While it’s more common to see on-site water reuse in commercial buildings, you can utilize this technology at home. Here are a couple of ways to conserve water at home: 

Greywater—One of the most common forms of on-site water reuse, greywater is wastewater from baths, showers, and laundry facilities. If you have a home with a greywater system, you can recycle that wastewater for use in things like landscape irrigation and toilet flushing. 

Rainwater—Rainwater can be collected and reused for a variety of purposes, including landscape irrigation and washing your car. If you live in an area with a lot of rainfall, you can install a rainwater harvesting system, such as a rain barrel under your gutter’s downspout, to collect and reuse that water. 

The Importance of Sustainable Water Practices 

On-site water reuse is just one example of a sustainable water practice. There are many others, and it is important to implement as many of them as possible to protect our precious water resources. 

Water conservation is becoming increasingly more important. For example, did you know that at least 11 states in the U.S. are in the midst of major droughts? 

To combat this, businesses and homeowners need to begin implementing sustainable water practices like on-site water reuse. By doing so, we can help conserve our valuable water resources for future generations. 

Bottom Line on Water Reuse 

On-site water reuse is an important part of sustainable architecture and water management. By recycling wastewater on-site, we can reduce our reliance on freshwater supplies and save energy. 

On-site water reuse is a great way for businesses to reduce their environmental impact. If you are interested in implementing a system in your own home or business, be sure to keep these benefits, challenges, and tips in mind. 

What Is Biophilic Design and Why Is It Important? 

If you’re like most people, you spend the majority of your time indoors. And if you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about the effect that has on your mental and physical health. Believe it or not, spending time in nature can be incredibly beneficial for both your mind and body—even when you’re just sitting outdoors. Biophilic design operates on this principle. In this blog post, we will discuss what biophilic design is and why it’s so important. 

Biophilic Design 

Biophilic design is the use of natural elements and patterns in architecture and interior design. It’s based on the idea that humans have an innate need to connect with nature because, for most of the history of our species, we lived our lives outdoors.   

The modern concept of biophilic design was introduced by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson. In his 1984 book, Biophilia, Wilson, a Harvard research professor emeritus, outlined what he believed to be a fundamental tendency of humans to be drawn to nature. He pointed to our proclivity for imitating natural processes and structures in our design and everyday lives. 

Biophilic design can be used in both indoor and outdoor spaces, at the building and neighborhood scale, and it can be incorporated into a variety of different structures, including homes, offices, schools, hospitals, hotels, and more. Biophilic design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but is also intended to promote human health and comfort. 

Benefits of Biophilic Design 

There are many benefits to incorporating biophilic design into a building. These benefits are based on an abundance of research on how these design principles impact people in a variety of settings. 

For example, one study found that biophilic design can increase productivity among workers by as much as 20 percent. It has also been shown to reduce stress levels in patients at hospitals, potentially speeding up recovery time and reducing reliance on pain medication. Additionally, the hospitality industry has jumped on the biophilic design trend in a quest to provide better quality sleep for hotel guests.  

Incorporating natural light into a building can help people feel calmer, more focused, and less stressed. Daylit indoor environments can also promote better sleep at night because sunlight helps regulate our natural circadian rhythms—that internal clock that tells your body when to feel sleepy and when to wake. Studies have also demonstrated that spaces that utilize daylight-sensing controls for lighting can reduce energy usage for electric lighting by as much as 60 percent. Thus, biophilic design principles can help reduce a building’s energy use.  

How to Incorporate Biophilic Design into Your Home of Office 

Architects and building engineers can incorporate biophilic design principles into their buildings by including elements like skylights, ample windows, fountains, atriums, green or living walls, views of nature, and natural indoor finishes like wood and bamboo.  

However, you don’t have to be an architect to be incorporate biophilic design into your space. For example, one easy way is by adding houseplants like the peace lily, philodendron, and pothos. Other easy-care options for plants that can provide a refreshing shot of indoor greenery include English ivy, aloes, and sansevieria (commonly known as snake plant).  

Another way to use biophilic design principles in your home or office is through the use of natural light. If you have windows to allow natural light into your space, it may be as easy as opening shutters or curtains to allow light in. More dramatic changes might include adding a window or installing a skylight.   

Yet another option for bringing biophilic design into your space is to use natural materials. This could mean choosing furniture and decorative items made of wood, stone, wool, jute, bamboo, hemp, and sisal. You might also incorporate a small fountain to provide the sound of running water, which can be relaxing and even therapeutic. Many interior designers are also inspired by natural patterns, such as the spiral of a seashell, meandering rivers, sand dunes, the veins on a plant leaf, and other organic forms.  

It’s possible to make either very small or very large changes to incorporate biophilic design principles into your home. Start wherever you feel comfortable and have the budget. 

Takeaways: Biophilic Design Can Promote a Healthier, Happier Life 

Biophilic design can create healthier spaces that improve your health and happiness. The use of nature in architecture has been shown to reduce stress levels while increasing productivity among employees at work and students in school environments. Biophilic design can also decrease a building’s energy use.  

There are many ways you can incorporate biophilic design into your life, from adding plants to your home to installing natural lighting fixtures like skylights. Overall, biophilic design is a great way to create a healthier built environment and interior living space, as well as reduce energy costs. In sum, it’s not only great for people, but the planet, too. 

4 Incredible Examples of Green Architecture from around the World

Green architecture is becoming increasingly popular as people become more aware of the importance of sustainability. Many architects are turning toward environmentally friendly building design, using materials that are recyclable and energy efficient.  

The Movement toward Green Architecture  

The green architecture movement began in the early 2000s, when people began to become more aware of the need to protect our environment. Since then, the number of green buildings has grown exponentially, and architects have begun to design some truly amazing structures that are both environmentally friendly and beautiful. 

While there isn’t a specific designation for a green building, there are several criteria that a building can meet to be considered “green” by most people. These include: 

  • The use of recycled materials or renewable resources such as bamboo and timber instead of concrete, steel, or plastic-based products. Sustainable building materials have a lower carbon footprint on the environment but still provide a structurally sound building. 
  • The use of energy-efficient lighting and heating and cooling systems, as well as water conservation measures such as low-flow faucets and toilets. 
  • The use of environmentally friendly construction methods. This can include avoiding toxic paints and adhesives or installing green roofs that help to regulate the temperature of the building and reduce carbon emissions from air conditioning units. 

Read on to look at four incredible examples of amazing green architecture from around the world. 

1. Green Architecture in China  

One of the most impressive examples of green architecture can be found in China. The Shanghai Tower, which is located in the city of Pudong and opened in 2015, stands over 600 meters tall with 128 stories. This incredible structure employs a variety of environmentally friendly design techniques. These include the building’s shape and its materials. Additionally, the tower has a “double skin façade,” which means that it has two layers of glass. This helps to regulate the internal temperature of the building and reduce energy consumption from air conditioning units. 

2. The Greenest Building in the World  

Perhaps the greenest building in the world is located in the Netherlands. Geelen Counterflow Headquarters is considered the greenest building in the world with a sustainability score of 99.94 by the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method, or BREEAM. The building was designed by PLP Architecture, which is known for its environmentally friendly designs and has won multiple awards over the years. 

Geelen Counterflow Headquarters features a number of unique green design features, such as a natural garden that wraps around the building. Its careful solar energy design allows it to generate 60 percent more power than it uses. The building was constructed using recyclable materials, which minimized the carbon footprint, as well. 

3. The Greenest Building in the United States  

The greenest building in the United States is located in Seattle, Washington. The Bullitt Center is considered the “greenest commercial building in the world” and is a model for sustainable design. This six-story structure features a rainwater harvesting system that collects and stores rainwater in an underground tank; solar panels on the roof to generate electricity; high-efficiency windows that allow natural light to enter while keeping heat out during summer months; and much more. Most importantly, the building meets the metrics of the net-zero energy standard. This means that the building’s energy needs are all supplied directly on-site and not from an outside source.  

4. A Green Oasis in the Desert  

Perhaps one of the most amazing examples of green architecture can be found in Dubai, where architects have designed a massive green oasis in the desert. The project, which is dubbed “The Sustainable City” was established in 2015. The city is home to 2,700 residents in 500 villas grouped into five residential clusters. It even features a 10-meter-high (32.8 foot) “buffer zone” to protect inhabitants from outside pollutants. The buffer zone consists of 2,500 trees in multiple layers. A park runs through the city, including over 3,000 square meters (over 32,000 square feet) of urban farming. 

Takeaways on Green Architecture around the World 

These structures not only look great, but they also feature a variety of innovative technologies that allow them to operate more sustainably, thus helping to reduce their environmental impact. Perhaps most exciting is how quickly newer and greener techniques are being developed and shared across the world. So if you’re looking for some inspiration on how to go green with your next building project, be sure to check out some of these amazing examples. 

A Look at the Greenest Buildings in America

Green building is on the rise across the United States today, presenting companies with the opportunity to not only protect the environment, but achieve impressive cost savings at the same time. Incorporating environmental responsibility and energy efficiency at every stage of development, green building has soared in popularity as forward-thinking companies come to realize the benefits in terms of both positive publicity and cost efficiency. 

In this article, we look at four of the most exciting green developments in the United States today. 

Bullitt Center – Seattle 

Certified the largest “Living Building” by the Living Building Challenge, this 52,000-square-foot office complex has established itself as the world’s greenest commercial building. 

Opened on Earth Day, 2013, the Bullitt Center was designed by Miller Hull Partnership, the $30 million construction distinguishing itself from other sustainable projects through the inclusion of composting toilets, and the elimination of 350 common toxic chemicals, including mercury, lead, PVC, BPA, phthalates, and formaldehyde. 

The facility operates within a strict water and energy budget to support self-sufficiency, having been designed to demonstrate that a carbon neutral office space can be both commercially viable and visually stunning. 

New Orleans BioInnovation Center – New Orleans 

Adopting elements of vernacular climate responsive strategies, including a rainwater collection facility, landscaped courtyard, sheltered porch, and slatted shutters, this award-winning building houses a private, not-for-profit business incubator dedicated to nurturing bioscience innovation throughout Louisiana. 

The New Orleans BioInnovation Center was created with the mission of inspiring local innovators, providing them with access to premier facilities, customized commercial services, and a comprehensive support network, empowering them to create their own successful biotech businesses. 

New Orleans’ first LEED Gold-certified laboratory building, the center features 66,000 square feet of state-of-the-art office, wet-lab, and conference space, providing the perfect environment for entrepreneurs to conceive and cultivate new bioscience ideas. Located in downtown New Orleans, the building was designed by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, a local company, working in collaboration with NBBJ of Seattle. 

Utilizing sustainable building technologies, the center features a range of amenities, including an interior atrium, beautifully landscaped interior courtyard, protected exterior balconies, and a large conferencing center equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment. 

Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building – Portland, Oregon 

Situated in the heart of Portland, this 18-story, 525,000-square-foot building is a base for 16 federal agencies, providing office space for more than 1,200 federal employees. 

Originally constructed in 1974, the facility underwent a major overhaul between 2009 and 2014. Today, the Federal Building is a cornerstone of the General Services Administration’s green building portfolio, incorporating all-new electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and data systems designed to make it one of the country’s most energy efficient office buildings. 

The result of a collaboration between Cutler Anderson Architects, SERA Architects, and Howard S. Wright Construction, the newly renovated Federal Building incorporates a range of sustainable, innovative, efficient technologies, including: 

  • A 13,000-square-foot solar roof capable of producing enough energy to meet 3% of the building’s total annual electrical requirements. 
  • Solar thermal panels providing 30% of the facility’s hot water. 
  • Modernized, energy-generating elevators. 
  • Shading devices incorporated on the south, east, and west facades capable of responding to sunny conditions; minimizing solar heat gain, and maximizing daylight during the summer months. 
  • Energy efficient water fixtures that, in conjunction with rainwater reuse, reduce the building’s overall water consumption by up to 60% compared with typical office buildings. 
  • A dedicated external air system providing 100% fresh air. 
  • An energy efficient electric lighting system incorporating advanced controls that reduce light energy expenditure by 40% compared to Oregon code. 

John and Frances Angelos Law Center – Baltimore 

Forming part of the University of Baltimore, the John and Frances Angelos Law Center opened in 2014. Located at the intersection of Mt. Royal Avenue and North Charles Street, this transformative building is a major architectural landmark for central Baltimore. 

Designed by Behnisch Architekten of Stuttgart, Germany, in partnership with Ayers/Saint/Gross, a Baltimore firm, the John and Frances Angelos Law Center was specially created to capture as much natural light as possible, while simultaneously reducing reliance on natural resources. 

The center is one of the greenest buildings in Baltimore today, its heating and cooling systems incorporating state-of-the-art equipment to capture and reuse rainwater. In addition to its rainwater harvesting system, the building also incorporates several other remarkable features, including a green roof, sunken garden, and terraces featuring endemic and adapted plants; non-emergency lights that automatically turn off after business hours; and a dedicated air management system that maximizes the flow of clean air through classrooms, offices, and open spaces, reducing energy needs in high-use periods in good weather. 

Incorporating 15 classrooms with advanced technology, a 300-seat event space and moot courtroom, 29 study spaces, and a 32,000-square-foot library, this groundbreaking facility has been recognized with several awards, including The Architect’s Newspaper’s Best of Design Award for Facades 2014; the American Council of Engineering Company’s Engineering Excellence Award, 2014; and the US Green Building Council Maryland’s Excellence in Sustainable Design Award, 2012. 

How Green Architecture Can Save the Environment

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.

Saving Water

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.

Reducing Temperatures

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.