Design Prose

Factoring in Green and Beyond: Footprints in Buildings

Posted in Green Architecture, Sustainability by designprose on February 20, 2010

“Green” is probably here to stay and a premise that should have never lost its consideration in built environment, interior or exterior. The way we live and where we live are consumptive in nature and to nature. Consider these, what we eat, what we wear, where we move, where and how we live and all the activities that are essentials in community civilization. All these considerations and choices based on them are critical if we have to make our development sustainable. Sustainability is another buzz word which is here to stay if we have accept the finiteness of resources available on earth. Trees, sand, ores, minerals, petroleum, clay, water, are all finite unless we constantly work in cyclic movement of products reducing the wastage to zero or almost zero. Do examples like, lighting the spaces with natural lighting during day time, using recycled wood, steel, paper in construction and natural ventilation to reduce air-conditioning to save electricity and energy come to mind?

Building and construction sector has tremendous impact on the earth and environment. Here is how. Buildings consume more than 30 to 40% of our energy and 60% of electricity while the water consumption remains at alarming number of millions of gallons. Sensible sustainable buildings play a role in reducing negative environmental damages. Better construction practices and attempt to conserve and recycle materials and resources can reverse this impact. Let me focus on materials and resources and wiser attempt at using them in construction. I will focus on other aspects like water usage, sites, energy consumption in future in different posts.

Materials and resources are intrinsic  to build but are critical if they have to become sustainable design because it will call for extraction, mining, hauling, processing, packaging, transporting and storage during the construction. Are we disturbing the natural habitats or contaminating water and air and depleting resources which cannot be replaced to their original form and quantity?

Next comes the waste generated through construction and demolition and how reusing, recycling and salvaging them will have to be an important and intrinsic design practice feature towards scoring points on sustainability. Usage of local materials and reducing transporting of materials from far-off places will challenge the architects to innovate the design process to adapt to regionally obtained and manufactured materials.