The article will explain how to build eco-friendly buildings. Various actionable and implementable ways will be explained and shed light on including the following aspects.
What technological aspects make buildings eco-friendly?
The ways in which new and older buildings can be made more eco-friendly are as follows:
- The buildings materials used must be sustainable
- Energy efficiency should be maximised
- Water conservation should be a priority
- Location and site selection should not have a significant impact on nature and scenic beauty
- Green roofs and living walls
Eco-friendly buildings are the necessary brick and mortar that can construct the edifice of an eco-friendly and sustainable future.
The world population has increased to over 8 billion as of 2023. So naturally more buildings need to be constructed for different purposes. The available resources are depleting at a rapid rate and the need for eco-friendly buildings is becoming more pressing than ever.
Nearly 39% of worldwide greenhouse gas come from buildings. About 28% of pollution results from heating, cooling and lighting structures. The additional 11% derives from the construction process.
Architects, engineers, builders, and property owners should ensure that the impact of these buildings should be at the minimum on the environment with the threat of climate change looming.
Sustainable Building Materials
To make buildings eco-friendly, the initial step is to opt for sustainable building materials. These materials are renewable, recycled, or reclaimed, and have minimal carbon emissions.
Instead of conventional concrete which consumes a lot of energy to manufacture, one can opt for sustainable materials like rammed earth that are produced using locally sourced soil, thus reducing their carbon footprint.
Using reclaimed wood for furniture or flooring helps to decrease the demand for new wood, thereby aiding in forest preservation. Using sustainable materials can also contribute to a building’s indoor air quality and improve occupant health.
Buildings use considerable amounts of energy for lighting, heating, and cooling, which can be minimised through different design features. For instance, natural lighting and ventilation can be utilised to reduce the need for artificial lighting and air conditioning.
Getting natural light can be accomplished by integrating design elements such as sizable windows, skylights, and shading devices that block direct sunlight while allowing it to enter the building.
Energy efficiency can be enhanced by adopting high-performance insulation and HVAC systems that reduce the demand for heating and cooling. Furthermore, newer efficient LED lighting should be utilised to save energy.
Solar panels can also be installed since it is a clean source of energy and will reduce electricity bills. Newer panels are getting smaller in size while also improving their efficiency.
Buildings use a significant amount of water for different purposes such as irrigation, washing, and toilet flushing, which can be minimised through various water-saving features. Using low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets can significantly reduce water consumption without compromising on functionality.
Installation of rainwater harvesting systems. These systems collect and store rainwater for non-potable uses such as irrigation and toilet flushing. Rainwater harvesting can help reduce the demand for municipal water supply and reduce the strain on local water sources.
Using sustainable materials in the construction of a building can significantly reduce its environmental impact. Sustainable materials are those that are environmentally friendly, have a low carbon footprint, and are made from renewable or recycled resources. Using sustainable materials can also contribute to a building’s indoor air quality and improve occupant health.
Green Roofs and Living Walls
Newer buildings can have green roofs installed so they can not only improve the aesthetics and decrease direct sunlight on the roof but also provide the occupants with fresh food.
Living walls are another concept where vines and living plants are hung off walls which make the buildings look aesthetically pleasing, provide fresh clean air and reduce electricity bills.
The building should have efficient waste disposal methods and practices to make sure that the waste is dealt with properly.
This includes the addition of recycling centres and composting centres. If this can not be done, then the building should partner with recycling and composting centres.
The waste collection in the building should also be segregated into hazardous, biodegradable or compostable, and recyclable. There should be a drop-in section for reusable materials such as clothes et cetera that can be given to NGOs and charity organisations.
What are some practices that render building eco-friendly? (9 practices)
To make eco-friendly buildings, you do not only need sustainable materials and smart appliances. You would also need a sustainable approach to run the building sustainably. Only then the building can deliver the purpose it is made for.
Therefore, let us assess some practices that will make a building more eco-friendly.
- The implementation of waste reduction and recycling programs helps promote sustainable practices and reduce the amount of waste generated by a building.
- Improving insulation can decrease heating and cooling demands, leading to energy savings and increased comfort.
- Sealing air leaks can help prevent energy loss, increasing a building’s energy efficiency.
- High-efficiency HVAC systems can substantially reduce energy consumption and lower energy bills.
- An energy audit involves evaluating a building’s energy usage comprehensively to identify areas of inefficiency and prioritise improvements.
- Energy-efficient lighting, such as LED bulbs or fixtures, can reduce energy consumption significantly and lower energy bills.
- The installation of smart thermostats allows for the optimization of heating and cooling settings, resulting in energy savings and increased comfort.
- Low-flow fixtures and appliances can lower water consumption and reduce water bills.
- Rainwater harvesting systems allow for the use of non-potable water, reducing the demand for municipal water supplies.
Eco-friendly buildings are the necessary brick and mortar that can construct the edifice of an eco-friendly and sustainable future. The article discussed ways and practices to build eco-friendly to contribute to a sustainable future.
- American Institute of Architects (AIA). (2021). Sustainable design principles. https://www.aia.org/resources/6347344-sustainable-design-principles
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (2018). Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative. https://www.unep.org/explore-topics/resource-efficiency/what-we-do/sustainable-buildings-and-climate-initiative
- U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). (2022). LEED v4.1: Building Operations and Maintenance. https://www.usgbc.org/leed-v41-building-operations-and-maintenance
- Newton, Emily. (December 9, 2021). 6 Ways to Improve Sustainability in Architecture. Retrieved from: https://www.construction21.org/articles/h/6-ways-to-improve-sustainability-in-architecture.html