My first thought about green buildings was green houses. Now these are two different expressions that mean very different things and may be mistaken in their use. Let’s clarify both.
Green house is a building not intended for human habitation but for growing certain plants that require regulated climatic conditions such as controlled temperature, moisture and humidity.
Green buildings on the other hand are buildings that have effective resource control and environmental responsibility over the life cycle of the building; not only on the construction of the building but also in the process of planning and using the building. This is the part where we begin to consider the amount of water used in the building and how the water is best utilised by users of the building; is there a water recycling system? What is the energy efficiency of the building? How best is the building utilising day light as opposed to using electricity lighting? Was the building constructed for optimal space utilisation? How is the building affecting other buildings in relation to ventilation, aesthetics, resource use, e.t.c.
Now there is no specific design or material use that a green building must have, what is important is the improvement on the efficiency of the building relative to other buildings in that region and of similar size. So I can regard a building as being ‘green’ if it has about 20% more energy savings than the buildings that surround it. it is also important to know that the criteria that make a building green differ across continents based on climatic conditions.
Who decides if a building is truly green?
Across the world, there are several standard organisations that define the quality of a building based on critical well set out criteria. For example, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the standard body in America, Green star in Australia, DNGB in Germany, AQUA in Brazil and HKBEAM in Hong Kong.
What really is the goal of green building?
It was alarming to find out that buildings use 75% of energies in cities and buildings use more energy than industry and transportation. For this reason, it became obvious that cutting energy use in buildings will have a significant effect in cutting total energy consumption across board.
Most importantly, there is a need to build a society with the motive a relatively stable environment, devoid of material exhaustions and ecosystem destruction.