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What is Green Architecture?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Green architecture is a broad term that refers to the creation or restructuring of buildings so they have a minimal impact on the environment. There are a number of different approaches to green construction, with many of the ideas involving the responsible recycling of existing resources along with the efficient use of environmentally friendly systems to provide water and power services to buildings that are created using a sustainable design. As more people have become concerned about the wise use of the planet's resources, the concept of green architecture has gained in both acceptability and interest.

In general, a green architect will attempt to design or overhaul buildings so they provide all the necessary functions but do not pose a threat to the surrounding environment. In many cases, this means using building materials that are composed of organic compounds rather then synthetics. The building materials may be wood, bricks, or other elements that are harvested from older buildings scheduled for demolition. These harvested materials are joined with newer technology to create structures that fit into the surrounding landscape with greater ease and make the best use of available resources for heating, cooling, cooking, and water supply to the edifice.

The use of solar panels is a common element of green architecture. The panels, along with their storage tanks, make it possible to store energy for electrical needs such as cooking, keeping the temperature in the building at a comfortable level, and running necessary equipment such as computers. In recent years, coupling a solar energy system with a wind system has been experimented with, effectively drawing on two renewable resources to create energy to meet the demands of modern life.

Collection vats and other devices are also a common element in green architecture. This makes it possible to collect rainwater and use it for tasks such as watering lawns, growing crops, or operating sewage systems. A system of this type helps to ease the demand on municipal purification systems, reserving purified water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Another important aspect of green design is the strategic placement of windows around the facing of the building. Ideally, the windows are placed so that the most efficient use of sunlight during the day takes place. In addition to decreasing the demand for artificial light during the daytime, the windows can also serve as a means of allowing the natural sunlight to provide a degree of warmth to the interior of the building. This in turn makes it possible to utilize less of the stored solar or wind energy to keep the space at an equitable temperature.

Depending on the placement of the building and its intended purpose, other aspects of green architecture may be included. The building may be recessed partially into the side of a hill, providing natural insulation. Composting toilets may be the ideal solution in areas where water is harder to come by. Finding ways to use whatever elements are native to the area also help to keep the structure in balance with nature, such as creating blocks using local sand rather than shipping in bricks constructed elsewhere. While the process of creating green architecture may be more difficult in some areas, there is no doubt that just about any structure can be altered or designed to be more environmentally friendly.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including All Things Nature, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon140666 — On Jan 08, 2011

Tell me the list of colleges which provide Green Architecture.

By ValleyFiah — On Sep 17, 2010

@ GenevaMech- That sounds like a really cool project. I love green building and architecture. I am also a sustainability student, and I am also studying materials science and engineering. My dream is to work to build cheap and sustainable homes in the poorest areas of the developing world. I am hoping to use the knowledge I gain in my studies to work on projects similar to the one that you talk about.

By GenevaMech — On Sep 17, 2010

@ Anon82460- Green design and architecture would not apply to congestion in the mega cities of the developing world, but sustainable urban planning could help alleviate congestion, eliminate slums, and reduce pollution. The infrastructure of the city has to grow at the same rate as the population. Zoning and land management must also be approached with care and anticipation of growth.

One of the most sustainable examples of dealing with growth in Mega cities took place in Argentina. A NPO in Northern Buenos Aires built 175 low-income homes on a site that once used to be a brownfield. The developers then sold the homes to poor families with children on very flexible payment plans. The city supplied water to the area, and since the brownfield was already within the city, sprawl was limited.

Sprawl is one of the biggest causes of congestion, and in mega cities in developing countries, sprawl usually takes the form of slums that put a drain on city resources taking money away from infrastructure projects. This new neighborhood was beneficial to the environment, human health, and reduced pollution.

By anon82460 — On May 06, 2010

What measures can be taken up to provide green solutions in a congested cities like Mumbai, Rio de Janerio, Mexico City, etc. which are densely populated and short of space?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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