Architectural Design: Going Green
Green architecture, or green design, is a building approach used to minimize the harmful effects of construction projects on both our health and the environment. Incorporating eco-friendly elements into architectural design has grown increasingly in popularity. From protecting the environment to saving on energy costs, the benefits of green architecture are clear. Some sustainable (or green) building trends include:
Green Energy & Energy Efficiency
Rather than rely on traditional energy sources, many architects look for ways to create sustainable buildings that run on solar, hydro or wind energy. In fact, harnessing nature’s power has long been used for heating, lighting and more. Along with producing renewable energy, new construction projects can also be designed with energy efficiency in mind to help save money. From Energy Star kitchen appliances to dual-pane windows, energy-efficient construction saves power—ultimately lowering energy bills. Other innovations like interior insulation and timer switches that regulate lights may also help reduce energy consumption and cost.
Sustainable Building Materials
By definition, sustainability is meant to make something last. The point of using sustainable building materials is to construct a building that lasts, thereby making it more cost-efficient. Sustainable building materials emit few, if any, toxins—such as carcinogens, volatile organic compounds and mold spores. Examples of sustainable building materials include low-flow plumbing fixtures, durable bamboo and cork flooring, natural fiber wool carpeting, concrete flooring and walls, reclaimed wood, and metal roofing and siding.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines stormwater management as the effort to reduce runoff of rainwater or melted snow into streets, lawns and other sites and the improvement of water quality. In urban and developed areas, impervious surfaces like pavement and roofs prevent precipitation from naturally soaking into the ground. Instead, water runs into storm drains, sewer systems and drainage ditches and can cause flooding, erosion, muddiness, storm and sanitary sewer system overflow, and infrastructure damage. Stormwater design and green infrastructure capture and reuse stormwater to maintain or restore natural hydrologies.