The concept of Green Building Technology doesn't in any way connote a building that is painted green but this concept interprets the relationship a building should have with the environment. The conception of this technology was born with the notion that a building should not harm the people and the surrounding environment.
A building should be designed in the manner and way in which it doesn't lead to the depletion of the environmental resources thereby causing harm to both the environment and the people. In other words, the resources used for building construction should be well conserved and used efficiently.
Before the advent of green building technology, buildings had a lot of adverse effects on the environment. Harmful gases and pollutants like the greenhouse gases were emitted into the atmosphere and energy was inefficiently utilized. These harmful gases polluted water bodies and made them unfit for consumption.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States have been studying this concept of technology to understand better how to manage the pollution caused by the construction of buildings.
• Energy Conservation
The magnitude of energy consumed by buildings throughout the different stages of development is alarming. Energy is required for the extraction of raw materials, production of raw materials, transportation, construction, operation, maintenance, and demolition.
During the construction of buildings, the topsoil is removed. If the HVAC system of a building is not properly designed and installed, a huge amount of energy could be consumed. Electric lightings in buildings also consume a huge amount of energy.
A lot of things can be done to conserve a building's energy to promote efficiency. One can opt for natural ventilation. Passive energy such as a solar panel can be implemented to solve the problem of electric lighting in buildings. A solar window can be used to provide light during nighttime.
The building should be orientated in such a way that it has access to sunlight. The walls and foundation of the building should be developed in such a way that they can restrict the passage of heat. Fly ash can be used to replace a portion of cement. With this, the overall impact of cement production on the environment would be reduced. Lumbers can be used in pillars and to replace steel studs. Lumbers have good strength and are heat-resistant.
• Water conservation
The whole process of building construction involves a lot of water consumption. In the redevelopment stage of building construction, water is needed in the extraction, manufacturing, and delivery of materials to the site and on the site. Improper plumbing within a building can lead to wastage of water.
More energy is required in buildings to flush when using toilets. An ultra-low toilet and waterless urinals could be used to tackle this problem. There could be water lost through the use of conventional taps. Sensor taps can be used as an alternative instead.
Wastewater should be treated on site instead of going into sewers and can be used for other things like flushing the toilet and for irrigation purposes. Rainwater can also be used for water supply.
Low flow faucets and showerheads can be used to reduce water consumption. An underground drip irrigation system can be used to reduce water loss due to evaporation of surface water after a rainfall.
• Land Conservation
An increase in population as led to the need for urban expansion in developed and developing countries. Existing urban areas should not be expanded but rather the adaptive reuse of buildings should be encouraged to aid land conservation because buildings that are not constructed in existing residential or commercial areas would require the construction of new roads and other infrastructure for easy accessibility. Building projects should be positioned where there is the ease of access, public transportation, commercial facilities, educational, and medical facilities.
Building construction consumes billions of raw materials. Natural resources are extracted to produce building materials and this affects the environment. Building construction requires billions of mineral resources and most mineral resources are non -renewable. Green materials are renewable and are therefore preferable to non-renewable materials. They consume less energy and have low maintenance.
Natural materials like wood should be adopted instead of the utilization of manmade materials. Natural materials require fewer amounts of processing, energy, and have a lesser adverse impact on the environment. Non- toxic or less toxic materials should be used in place of toxic materials. Non -toxic materials are more environmentally friendly as they cause little or no harm to humans and the environment. Durable materials are environmentally friendly and should be preferable to non- durable materials.
• Harmful Gases
Conventional buildings release greenhouse gases that are toxic to humans and the environment. Harmful gases from toxic materials used for building construction can cause sick building syndrome. Sick building syndrome occurs when occupants of a building develop health issues from living in a building for a long time.
Inadequate ventilation, molds, chemical contamination from indoor and outdoor sources can lead to sick building syndrome. Green buildings have adequate ventilation as opposed to conventional buildings to filter harmful substances in the air.
This technology is gaining popularity but the fact remains that a lot of buildings today are not green and these buildings pose a lot of threats to the occupants of the buildings and the environment. This technology helps to reduce energy utilization of buildings either through the development and adoption of a passive and active design approach to sustainable development. Materials and energy used in the construction of buildings could be reused by adopting renewable sources of energy like the wind and the sun to prevent wastage of materials and energy. Recyclable materials should also be adopted.
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