What Makes a Building “Green”?

What Makes a Building “Green”?

In this week’s episode, Architectural Technologies student Christina Sullenberger succinctly summed things up when she told us, “Everything now is becoming green.”

She was, of course, referring to today’s emphasis on “green building.” But what, exactly, makes a building “green”?

According to the website www.greenhomebuilding.com, in the case of residential homes, much of a building’s greenness boils down to the use of energy. For example, how much energy is used in the building materials themselves, in their transportation and assembling? And, once a building is constructed, how much energy does it require to keep its inhabitants comfortable?

“Green” buildings require less energy for a number of reasons: They are constructed from an area’s local materials, which means they didn’t have to travel as far to reach their destination and didn’t burn as much fossil fuel in the process. They are also less likely to be processed by industry. So, for example, in Colorado, local building materials might consist of rocks, sand and adobe. “Green” buildings also rely on recycled materials. By using existing materials, “green” builders keep materials out of landfills and keep them from being transported for further processing. And “green” buildings take advantage of the sun’s heat. Good passive solar design provides just enough sunlight to be absorbed by the room’s surrounding thermal mass (usually masonry materials) so that the heat will be given back to the room when the sun goes down.

Now, for a look at some buildings that more than fit these descriptions, check out www.inhabitat.com. Dedicated to “design that will save the world,” inhabitat.com has come up with some fascinating examples of sustainable architecture: everything from a two-story pavilion in China constructed entirely of bamboo…

Bamboo German- Chinese House

Bamboo German- Chinese House

To a cozy Minnesota cabin made of used shipping containers…

Holyoke Cabin- Minnesota

Holyoke Cabin- Minnesota

A minimalist adobe brick home in Texas…..

Texas Adobe Home

Texas Adobe Home

And even a mixed-use building in Armenia literally covered in native plants which act to absorb heat and filter air and water.

Lace Hill: A Living Green Mountain

Lace Hill: A Living Green Mountain

Christina was right: Green really is everywhere.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply