Replacing Traditional Housing Units With Green Housing Construction Essay

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The following report is a critical in-depth analysis of Green or Sustainable design. Green architecture is an approach to building that reduces harmful effects on the environment and to human health. The "green" designer or architect attempts to safeguard air, water, and earth by choosing eco-friendly building materials and construction practices. There are many factors considered by designers when designing "green". The report primarily focuses on how green design can live alongside or even replaces current housing construction practices and the advantages it offers the occupants and designers alike.

The subject matter discussed in the report is well known and has been discussed/designed the world over. Any building whether a house or an office could be designed in a way to protect indoor space from external elements, prime example being the weather. In order to achieve this aim, different elements such as sophisticated heating, air conditioning systems, ventilation and appropriate materials can be employed. In this way, huge amounts of energy is conserved on a daily basis. Savings such as these not only have financial benefits to the consumer, but also to the environment with less harmful emissions being produced than normal energy consumption.

The report is broken down into chapters and will discuss the following points in detail:

Introduction on what is Green design and why the need for change

History of green design and how it has been used throughout time, focussing on materials used in the past and the green movement today

Principles of Green design and the methods used.

Examples of Green design. Focussing on three separate builds such as; Refurbished Apartment Block, A house and a Commercial build.

How green design can have a positive effect on energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings.

How Designing and creating products with new innovative ideas will minimise environmental contamination, reduce the use of energy and introduce the use of alternative energy.

What changes to traditional practices are being made to achieve Government targets with examples of successful current green building projects.

The changes required for the future and ask the question if it is possible for all future buildings to be green.

Conclusion, summarising the points discussed in the report.


The following chapter provides an introduction to green design and includes definitions on what is meant by green or sustainable design. The chapter also discusses why the need to go 'green' and the Government targets and requirement set by the United Nations.

In 1983, the United Nations set up the World Commission on Environment and Development (Bruntland Commission). Then in 1987, the commission published 'Our Common Future', which defined sustainable (green) development as:

Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (MacKenzie, 1991, 10).

Sustainability or green design is defined by the Design Council as, 'delivering the best (social, environmental, economic) performance for the least (social, environmental, economic) cost.' In order for a designer to attain sustainability a holistic approach must be adhered to which deals with the range of needs indicated by the following three pillars of sustainable development:

Social responsibility

Environmental protection

Economic development

The home building industry started using the phrase green buildings in the late 1980s (also referred to as sustainable design) turning a niche movement of resource efficient homes into a quiet revolution, which has slowly become an ideal or preferred way to build.

Fundamentally, Green sustainable building design is a step-by-step home building process to minimise the negative affects on the environment and which is also resource efficient. The Green approach is a realistic answer to a variety of issues that affect all of us in modern day life i.e. changing weather patterns, increasing energy prices and weakening water resources.

According to the UK Green building Council which was launched in February 2007 buildings have a significant impact on the environment. Buildings are responsible for 43% of our total carbon emissions in the UK alone and they also impact on the consumption of raw materials and production of waste.

Ref: UK Green Building Council:

There is little doubt that the UK is facing an energy crisis: UK domestic heating, lighting, power and personal travel together account for 44% of all CO2 emissions and, between 1990 and 2005, emissions in the household sector rose by 40%.


Combine this with the threat of fuel poverty, caused by the estimated increase of fuel prices within the next five years, affecting more and more households and there is no doubt that the UK is facing a severe problem.


Ecological and environmental aspects such as weather, climate change and pollution are on the news everyday. The demand for eco-friendly products and housing is increasing. Furthermore, growing awareness of the potential impacts of climate change is affecting how companies operate and the products they offer, both creating new markets and diminishing or destroying existing ones.

Robert and Brenda Vale in their book Green Architecture. Design for a Sustainable Future defines green design as:

…green approach to the built environment involves a holistic approach to the design of buildings; that all the resources that go into a building, be they materials, fuels or the contribution of the users need to be considered if a sustainable architecture is to be produced…3 P5

According to the Vales 66% of total UK energy utilisation is accounted for by buildings and building construction and services. This figure suggests that building and building construction are one of the most important users of energy and resources. In order to tackle issues such as ozone depletion, natural resource wastage, toxic emissions, the building design and construction services will have to review all building materials production, construction and transportation methods. Insulating homes or using low energy light bulbs will not make much of a difference and fundamental changes are required.

RE; [ValeRobert and Brenda Vale in their book Green Architecture. Design for a Sustainable Future

Past & Present

The following chapter discusses how green design has been used in the past and the different stages or trends it has been through up until the present. The chapter also discusses some of the initiatives available from the Government to help people go green.


Green design may sound like a relatively new concept, but the Anasazi Indians in the U.S. built the first green homes thousands of years ago as early as 700 A.D.

Eric Freed writes in book Green Building and Remodeling for Dummies that few of their green home designs included passive solar heating and cooling ventilation systems. They were so ahead of their time that they also found a method for rainwater collection for irrigation all of which made use of natural, non-toxic materials such as wood, mud and stone.

Although these ancient green design ideas are innovative and well ahead of their time, it would however be impossible to use them in modern building plans but the green homes do serve well as an inspiration to builders and architects who are interested in planning and designing eco-friendly green homes and communities.

Natural, recycled, non-conventional and non-toxic building materials can be just as successful in terms of meeting the standard needs of a building while also fostering sustainability and reducing health hazards on its occupants.

Building design has been through a number of stages throughout history. The first being the increasing sturdiness and longevity of the materials used. Early building materials were delicate, such as leaves, branches, and animal hides. Soon after, more durable natural materials such as stone, timber and clay were used. Then finally, synthetic materials such as brick, concrete, metals, and plastic were being incorporated. Another trend was the requirement for larger buildings with considerable height, which was achieved by constructing stronger materials and by knowing of how these materials interacted with one another to get the most out of them. Another trend was to control the interior of the buildings such as the environmental aspects like air temperature, light and sound levels etc, factors that affect human comfort. Finally moving towards the use of powerful machinery instead of humans in the building construction process and how by using these methods would reduce energy.

Past Decades

By 1980, the green building movement was just starting to be organised but because energy prices were low, people did not see the need to save and hence very little progress was made. The movement was commencing but was still a long way from the ideas formed in earlier decades. (The philosophy of sustainable design,p29). Advocates for sustainable design faced additional barriers and Green design ideas were hard to come by.

Green materials were more expensive and hard to find. People did not have sufficient knowledge and because there was not a need for Green, mistakes were being made. These blends of factors were not formulas for rapid growth (p30) and hence Green was no longer seen as the in-thing.

The 21st century

The twenty-first century is where green or sustainable design really lifted off and particularly this decade will expected to be known as the decade that green design became mainstream. People are realising that building in green results in healthier better buildings that are more cost effective in the long run and sometimes cheaper in the short run as well.

The design of buildings has changed over time but the function of buildings has remained the same. Building or homes provide warmth, shelter and safety. However, in recent years, comfort level requirements by occupants of buildings have become more demanding.

The demand for greater comfort levels in buildings have led designers to neglect green materials and instead opt for mass produced materials and integrating energy supply distributed from a centralised power source which has increased the human habitation.

Architects and builders now recognise the requirement for more sustainable and energy efficient buildings. Building Regulations are changing quickly and the Government has proposed changes to Building Regulations and have stated that buildings constructed between 2008 and 2016 will have to use renewable energy, make use of sustainable materials and use renewable energy.

The aim of these regulations is to reduce the environmental impact from both living in buildings and the actual building process whilst increasing comfort level for occupants.


In an effort to lower the UK' carbon footprint, the Government, recently launched a scheme called the Low Carbon Building's Programme through its Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) website. The Government introduced this initiative to meet national and International requirements to reduce pollution, hence reducing the effects of climate change. The programme has been set up to offer householders and community group's grants to install products that derive energy from renewable sources and hence reduce the usage of power effectively within their homes. The available grants are helpful to householders who would like to go green because these products are in early stages of mass usage and tend to be quite expensive.


The Carbon Trust, a non-profit Independent Company set up by the Government that works with businesses to reduce emissions has launched an initiative called the Low-Carbon Building Accelerator (LCBA). The task of the LCBA is to seek to hasten the adoption of initiatives such as grant in order to complete projects in a low-carbon and cost effective manner for commercial buildings and their refurbishment.


As we can see from the above the UK Government have started the ball rolling and are doing their bit to get people to go green and start using sustainable design methods. However, what are these methods and will these methods be incorporated in mass construction processes? In order to answer this question, first we need to look at the principles of Green design and how these have been used so far.

Green Design Principles

The following chapter discusses the many principles of Green design and although there are many definitions for green or sustainable design the following from the Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) sums it up perfectly:

..The creation and responsible management of a healthy built environment based on resource efficient and ecological principles...6

The above definition combines energy efficiency with the impact of materials on occupants.

BSRIA categorise Green principles as the following:

Enhancing the natural environment

Minimising non-renewable resource usage

Minimising the use of toxins

With the increasing costs of energy and the rapid reduction in the supply of natural resources, incorporating green building strategies into architectural design is crucial. Successful green building depends on the building form, design of energy-using systems and the specification of environmentally sustainable materials.

There are many principles of Green architecture and design, which are considered when going green. Sustainable or Green designed, built and managed building, are reduces the negative impact on the environment. There are numerous way of building a house, offices or schools, but the finest builds should include the following:

Energy Efficiency

Solar Panels

Water Efficiency

Heating and Cooling Systems


Airtight and Ventilation

Building Materials

Local Recycled Materials

Indoor Air


Zero or Minimal Waste

User Management

The Location

Energy Efficiency

Efficient design of electrical, mechanical and lighting systems in a building reduces energy usage and considerably reduces utility costs. Low-energy light sources, such as fluorescent and LED bulbs, are more expensive to buy initially, but they use a lot less electricity and last much longer than standard light fixtures. According to the BBC energy saving bulbs requires 70% less energy than standard light bulbs. Using an energy saving bulb would reduce average annual energy usage from 700kwh to 150kwh, which is a huge reduction of 550khw.

The table below (figure 1) show comparison between normal and energy saving light bulbs

Fig 1: Comparison of incandescent, CFL's and LED bulbs.


Low Energy consumption is a key element of green building design. Making use of energy sources like solar, wind is becoming increasingly important. Heating, air conditioning and ventilation are usually a building's biggest energy costs, so basic practices like moderating summer and winter thermostat settings makes a big difference. Also incorporating efficient appliances like those with Energy Star certification can go a long way and form the ideal.

Windows also play a very important role when designing green buildings. High quality, triple glazed insulating windows are equally as important as window placement. Correctly placed windows allow plenty of daylight and heat during the winter months which reduces light and heat usage, hence saving on bills.

Solar Panels

Buildings can use solar panels in order to cut their carbon footprint. To reduce energy costs the sun's angle and its paths in different times of the year are taken into consideration.

Successful passive solar design is the process of being able to naturally heat and cool a building without reliance on a mechanical system. The shape and orientation of a building on the site, location and size of windows, and the insulation of the building envelope are critical to successful solar design.

Passive solar heating and cooling depends on the orientation, regional location and landscape of the house.


In order to maximise using the sun's heat at home, a south-facing direction is advantageous. To achieve this goal materials and elements such as a tiled floor, internal heat stores and a brick chimney can be fitted, which is exposed to direct sunlight during the day. Windows if possible should be built and placed facing south in order to let the sun inside the house in the winter because in summer, the sun passes overhead at noon and its direction in the southern sky is on lower position in winter. (Solar Trading Post LLC [Online]).

Another method to prevent heat loss is to have an over hanged roof. In cooler areas, the north side of the house can be built into a hillside to reduce more heat loss. In warmer regions, the slope need not be as steep. (McRae, 1999-2010, [online])

Water Efficiency

It is important that water efficient products do not have a negative impact on consumer lifestyles. Different types of products are available on the market which consume less water and do not sacrifice design. With the requirement for water efficient devices built into planning regulations, designers can determine a building's water efficiency requirements. There are plenty of products available on the market that have been tried and tested and are of good quality and design as well as being water efficient.

Incorporating water-saving plumbing fixtures and fitting, such as low-flow taps, toilets and faucets, will also make considerable savings in water usage.


Around 30% of the total water used in a household is from using a toilet flush. Water-efficient dual-flush toilets use just four litres of water with reduced flushing and six litres for a full flush compare this to the traditional single flush toilet which can use up to 13 litres


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As discussed above there are many water saving devices and fittings available on the market like flow restrictor flow sinks and showers but others are still being introduced, like the reuse of non-septic water from sinks and showers to flush toilets and irrigate landscapes known as Gray water usage. Some green building designs also use rainwater, accumulating it and storing which is then used to provide drinkable water or help cool the building.

Other methods to reduce water use include the design implementation of plumbing or heating and cooling systems.

Heating Storage and Cooling systems

More often than not, the reason for buildings not being more energy efficient is that the heating and cooling system are normally designed separately from the building process. If the heating or cooling system is not thought of in the design process then these are generally bought as external products. Using technological heating and cooling appliances can be very expensive. (Thomas, 2005, p39)

When designing a house, the climate should be considered for energy-efficient homes. The climate of the site will help to decide whether the need should be more focussed on heat or cooling. This will determine what types of heating and cooling systems are most beneficial. (McRae, 1999-2010, [online])

Majority of people build their houses in order to use less energy so some might not install a proper heating system thinking they will not need it. However, the house will not be comfortable without any heating system. Solar panels can provide heat but they cannot heat the water and hot water is essential so instead of a full heating system, designers can incorporate a small heating unit onto a ventilation system. (Brinkley, 2007, [Online]). 


Errors in building design and construction will allow heat and cold to enter the house. The solution to resolve this matter is by sealing the home's thermal envelope, which separates the living area of the home from the outside space. Insulation can provide the following benefits:

Prevent wasting energy in homes.

Saves money and energy resources

Increases comfort levels by holding a consistent temperature inside the house,

Walls, floors and ceilings are kept warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

The total amount of energy consumed or saved will depend on various elements such:

Regional climate, size and structure of the house

Heating and cooling systems efficiency;

Energy consumption by occupants.

Proper insulation can save buildings money and energy efficient buildings will be even more important as utility bills increase. (Desjarlais, 2008, [online]).

The outer layer of a building is made up of different materials, which may store, absorb or is heat resistance. Considerable amount of heat loss is through the roof; therefore the roof of a building requires proper insulation.

Wide range of insulating materials are available on the market for houses and householders can apply for Government grants of up to 100% of the cost of insulation .

Airtight and Ventilation

In every step of the design process, the airtight problem should be well thought-out which can have a great result on the quantity of air outflow.

The designer should identify the correct position of the airtight barrier in early stages of design and should be clearly thought of in the building plans. The airtight barrier is a constant line around the building that divides heated and unheated spaces.

It is paramount that the builders understand the importance of airtight barrier and also how it is to be incorporated and maintain its integrity. (Quality Domains Ltd, 2010, [Online]).

Mechanical ventilation systems are essential because green buildings typically have very low levels of air leakage, so the only way to get rid of stale air is to install a good ventilation system. Unfortunately, a huge number of mechanical ventilation systems are designed or installed in bad conditions. (Holladay, 2010, [online])

Building Materials

…A building form is important from an energy point of view. If possible, a building should be solid, with a low surface area to volume ratio, because the building's surface is the primary factor through for heat loss. (Creating causes, 2010, [online])

A really good material to use when going green is Aluminium. There are many advantages in using aluminium such as; it can be used many times and is non-toxic, reduce noise, stronger, durable and anti-corrosive.

Using material for walls which absorbs heat is an important factor when going Green. There are several methods to reduce or prevent heat loss through walls. One method is to use Ceramic wall tiling which can replace wallpaper. These tiles look clean and come in many colours and designs. Another method is Wall Cavity Insulation, which is the process of filling the air space between the two layers of brick with permeable material. Government grants are available for house owners who wish to install cavity wall insulation.

Lastly, a Biological filter septic tank made from fibreglass which is designed in a way which does not pollute environment, equipped with disinfectant system, anti-leak, durable, easy to install, and doesn't need special treatment.

There are many building materials which can reduce pollution, not have a negative impact on the environment and which should be considered when designing and constructing in a sustainable process.

Local Recycled Materials

Using locally manufactured materials helps support the local economy and reduces the amount of energy required to transport materials to a building site. Making use of recycled materials in building design reduces the need to process new material, eliminating waste and using less energy.

It is as though every day, some innovative, new sustainable building material for green buildings comes online. For example, recycled or recyclable materials from older building which are to be demolished or local materials such as gravel, and stone, that can be gathered from building sites. These recycled materials also have the added benefit of containing little or no toxic substances and are derived from sustainable sources.

Indoor Air

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. Indoor air quality plays an important role in people's health. Reducing pollution and improving the air quality of an interior space is paramount, especially in buildings that are heavily populated, such as offices and houses.


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from some adhesives, synthetic fabrics and paint are a well documented health hazard. Using HVAC and low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) materials reduces new material odour and are less harmful to human health.



The Government's plan to make all new homes carbon free by 2016 can only be achieved by using Technology. We live in a technological era with daily advancement in this field.


A significant portion of Britain's energy output is used on power, heat and lighting for homes. In order to reduce this usage and to meet Governments target of carbon free homes, the designers have to make use of cutting-edge technology.

What is made clear is that builders need to use the right technology for the right situation and this needs to be done on a case-by-case basis, otherwise they are unlikely to deliver on the three crucial measurements: carbon reduction, cost effectiveness and customer satisfaction.

There are many different types of technology available today to designers. According to the NHBC (National Housing Building Council) there are 11 different types of technology which designers can take advantage of such as solar systems, fuel cells, renewable heat power systems and small scale hydroelectric technologies. These particular technologies are designed with cost-efficiency and carbon saving benefits in mind with factors like geographical location, consumer savings and Government planning regulation taken into consideration.

Zero or minimal Waste

Does Green building always have to be new buildings? No - some green buildings are not new at all. In fact, they are older buildings that have been modified for reuse and have incorporated green ideas. Adaptive building reuse, like turning an old warehouse into housing, is just one example of how smart design can reduce the waste flow from construction, as well as the waste generated during building occupancy.

User Management and Maintenance

So we have a latest all green building that does not impact the environment like traditional houses but that would mean nothing if the occupants did not practice sustainable living. What would be the point of living in a 'green' house if the users for example did not switch of the lights when not in use to save energy or did not recycle their waste? Living in a Green building requires a lifestyle change and ongoing participation in sustainable living from occupants.

The Location

The choice of location consideration of reuse or rehabilitation of existing building is paramount when designing in a sustainable process. The following points should be considered by designers before starting construction:

The building should not be constructed in sensitive habitats like wetlands or old growth forests. Many new green buildings are knowingly built over past contaminated industrial sites. Buildings should be designed and constructed near bus and train stations, which should encourage public transport usage.

Buildings should be designed with space-efficiency in mind. Builds with less space and smaller car parks are likely to be more energy-efficient. Ideally landscaping should incorporate non-invasive native plants, which can produce food.

Site design whether it is a new building or a refurbishment of an existing building should work together with sustainable design to complete a successful project.

Examples of Green Buildings in UK

The following chapter provides examples of green buildings in the UK. There are many examples to choose from but the author has highlighted some of the most recent projects.

Apartment Block Development

Below is (Fig. 2) is a substantial low-energy housing scheme developed by a company called Citu, who turned an empty 1930s art-deco structure in to a multi-award winning low carbon sustainable development called the Greenhouse.

Fig 2. Greenhouse, Leeds

The Greenhouse in Leeds is a revolutionary green development project, which incorporates the latest pioneering environmental sustainable methods that are like no other in the UK. The refurbished building is designed as a multi-use space which includes apartments for residents and office space for companies. The building incorporates many different types of functionality and uses the latest technology to cut carbon emissions and make it energy efficient and economical.

The building has an energy performance certificate A rating, which is achieved using the following methods:

High levels of insulation for the airtight barrier.

Solar panels and wind turbines installed on the roof

Ground source heat pump.

Building management system which transports air from hot areas to where heating is required.

Heat recovered in the summer is also used for water heating

The building also incorporates the following green design principles which are discussed in details below.

Water Efficient

Grey water is recycled from sinks, showers and toilets and Rainwater is harvested from roof terraces which is filtered then reused to wash clothes and flush toilets. These methods together with water efficient appliances would reduce water usage 80 litres per person per day compared to 148 litres of average usage.

In addition to this, the flow restricted taps and shower heads are fitted throughout the building as standard together with dual flush toilets decrease water usage without compromising performance.

Natural Material Reuse and Recycling

Kitchen worktops are made from sustainable Bamboo which matures in 7 years, and the leftover or cut out worktops recycled and used as sink covers and can also be used as chopping boards. Locally sourced 100% wool is used for the carpets which are fitted above the recycled underlay.

To save time and cost for off-site waste sorting, skips for different types of materials were placed on site which would recycle almost 85% of waste accumulated each month.

Every flat it fitted with recycling facilities and integrated bins are provided for separating recyclable and non-recyclable waste.


Technology is used widely within the building to display the buildings overall energy usage. Energy efficient LED monitors are fitted in the reception area to display total energy consumption of the building and to encourage residents to work as a community to decrease the total energy usage.

Also another great innovative sustainable feature is that recycled and non-recycled waste is calculated and displayed on resident TV screens so occupants can see how much they have recycled and what they need to do to increase recycling.

As well as monitoring their waste on TVs residents can also monitor their electricity usage and keep an eye on their water usage. Daily, weekly and monthly energy and water consumption is displayed on screen in Kilowatts and Litres as well as how much it is costing them. The aim of this information is to try and reduce energy usage and make residents aware of their daily activities.

Energy saving lights which use LED bulbs were installed to reduce energy usage and hence decrease utility bills.

Health Living

Apartments are fitted with floor to ceiling windows which are designed in order to use maximum possible daylight.  The building also counteracts the problem of dry or stale air from air conditioning systems by using good ventilation system to constantly circulate fresh air throughout the building.

The building is also kitted out with an on-site gym equipped with different types of equipment tailored for all types of workouts.  The advantage of having an on-site gym is that it encourages interaction between residents and office workers, and hence helps develop a stronger community.

Another great feature of the building is the on-site cafe which sells freshly baked bread and sandwiches as well as fresh coffee which of course ethically sourced. The café also sells locally produced healthy organic food.  Residents and office workers can enjoy their ethically sourced food in the shared courtyard which again encourages is designed to bring the together.

Green Housing Development

Fig 4. Threshold Centre, Dorset,

The Threshold Centre in Dorset is one of UK's first co-housing sustainable living schemes developed in 2008. The centre takes the idea of green living to another level. The aim is to reduce carbon emissions by changing the way people live in order to live in harmony with the environment.

The following are some of the green ideas incorporated into the build:

Electricity such as lighting and ventilation is derived from Solar panels

Heating and hot water is provided by a zero emission Biomass boiler system

The 'Green Travel Plan' introduced so residents can car share, hence reduce pollutions from cars and enhance communal living ethos

Residents can grow their own healthy produce in the communal gardens

Residents share electrical appliances such as washing machines and freezers which is space efficient in the homes and reduce energy consumption.

Wide range of waste can be recycled on-site.

The above are only some of the sustainable methods discussed. The Threshold Centre is a very good example of green living and surely designers and developers can learn from this very good example.


Commercial Development

Currently a new Green development is nearing completion in Manchester at MMU All Saints (See Fig. 5 below)

Fig. 5 New MMU Business School

The business school is a unique concept and the following methods are just some of the Green principles incorporated into the build:

The building is supported by three towers which reside under a single glass roof, which lets in natural light during the day.

The sloped south facing roof is fitted with large Solar panels to produce electricity

Ground source heating pumps along with Solar panels will generate power for the building.

The diamond shaped building has windows which are glazed so that colours and patterns of the glass constantly change throughout the day.

A rainwater harvesting system has been setup to feed water into the main building water supply (see Fig 6 below)

Fig 6. MMU Business School Rainwater Harvesting System

Three examples discussed above are all different but they provide an insight on what types of projects are being developed nowadays. They are unique but they use the same green methodologies discussed in this report.

Incorporating change

The following chapter discusses what changes are required to traditional practices in order to achieve Government set targets to cut UK's carbon footprint and the changes required for the future. The discussion revolves around the following areas of responsibility when it comes to designing Green:

The Designer

Government Policies

Partnerships and Collaboration


The Designer

Designers have a major role in the building construction industry as service providers. They also have to understand their wider role which recognises that being a designer is not only about designing a good product but also to shape societies in such a way that reduces or minimises the negative impact of industries on the environment. In order to accomplish the challenges set, the designers have to be educated in multi-disciplines sectors such as Architecture and Construction etc. An approach to dedication to continual learning and embracing change and practices is required if they are to meet these challenges.

Government policies

It has long been recognised that the Government has a role to play in influencing how we use resources and ensuring a sustainable future. The UK Government has established ethical codes of practice.

The Government is under pressure to reduce the countries carbon footprint of 34% by 2020. In order to reduce emissions the Government has setup organisations to tackle the problem. The Government is also actively promoting green development by offering grants to house owners to incorporate green technology and materials into their homes.

The Government recently unveiled a green transformation scheme in Manchester for Britain's homes. The scheme is the largest of its kind and the aim is to offer improvements to homes such as better heating systems and cavity wall insulation. The housing association will pay for the cost upfront and then the tenant will pay for the cost by the savings they will make throughout the year. The scheme will make changes to 2,500 homes within Greater Manchester and hopefully pave the way for 260,000 homes


The Government is also incorporating Green design principles such as recycling paper waste, printer ink cartridges, and using effective energy efficient lighting to reduce energy usage in public sector buildings is sending out a positive message to companies and homeowners alike. Also gradually more public and private sector organisations are collaborating with service providers that have clear environmental policies that take into account sustainable business processes.

Partnerships and collaboration

As discussed above, designers need to employ new methods and practices which may take them beyond their current level of expertise. Designers must be aware of issues such as the environment and current advances in the wider processes of green design. They need to keep in tune with new developments, for example by reading up on publications in the field of green design or having close relations to environmental agencies and consultancy firms.

The requirement in design to reduce negative environmental impact in a new build will require close collaboration with third parties such as; construction companies, engineers, technological experts and local Government authorities will be crucial. (MacKenzie, 1991, 158-9)

Lack of multi sector partnerships and collaboration in the preliminary stages of project design could lead to not meeting requirements and hence failure to achieve a green project.


The National Qualifications Framework (UK) sets out levels for all undergraduate study. For example the architecture subject benchmarks make it clear that environmental issues and sustainable design modules are to be studied but the art and design modules cover environmental issues in contextual studies but do not clearly refer to sustainable design in the curriculum.


Students need to be taught what impact design and manufacturing processes can have on the environment and how to adopt sustainable design methods. Courses in Design should include the impact of design on the environment.

As discussed above multidisciplinary collaboration is important and should be promoted. Students early in their courses should be encouraged to collaborate and share ideas with students on other design, engineering and construction courses.

The student needs to develop a wider viewpoint on how design processes fit into context such as; social, economic and political. To attain an understanding of these issues a theoretical approach that reaches beyond environmental issues is required.

For example, The Royal Society of Arts annual student awards (RSA Directions), provide students opportunities to work in multi-disciplinary teams to develop projects which are innovative, questions current practices and demonstrate sustainable design methodologies



Green Affordable buildings are designed to meet various targets. In order to reach this goal, different factors must be considered, such as:

Using high levels of insulation

Alternative energy usage

High-performance windows.

Strongly sealed construction

Sophisticated heating and cooling system

Air conditioning systems

Good Ventilation systems.


Energy efficiency is important so that low operating costs make houses more affordable. By incorporating proper ventilation systems, the indoor air quality can be improved hugely. The differing types of construction materials and low maintenance are also important. Long lasting organic materials are more expensive to purchase but the occupants will save money on energy bills in the long run. Selecting technological systems and materials with the least impact on the environment is the most crucial consideration in green affordable building.

The designer should have sufficient knowledge be able to advise their clients on green design principles and how these new builds can be energy efficient. Also the designer should be able to transfer the clients' green requirements into reality by incorporating the latest pioneering sustainable methods and technology. The methods discussed in this report such as green recyclable materials, solar and wind panels, waste management systems, and water efficient fittings and appliances should be considered.

A building can only be truly sustainable when both the design and construction process work together in partnership. Both aspects of the build should be carefully planned and detailed by the project architect. The environment and site location are major factors to consider when designing in a sustainable process. These factors should help the designer make the right decision on how the current ecology of the area can work in tandem with the new green development. Existing builds which are mostly located in urban areas, the designer should consider recycling or reuse on site materials where possible and as for the location, the local transports structure should be taken into consideration.

The various parties involved in the whole design process such as the designers, builders, local authorities and occupants need to work together to create a successful green project. Green design thinking has to start in the classroom. Education is the key to future green developments and students should be taught sustainable methods in order to develop green buildings in the future. Knowledge plays a major role in maintaining green buildings, occupants should be educated on green living principles and make them realise that what they do directly affects the environment.

There are many examples of green development in the UK. It seems as though designers are now thinking 'green' and with the introduction of new carbon cutting laws, they are left with little choice but to go green.

The report realises that Green design and construction can live alongside traditional housing units and it seems as though that future buildings are considering green design methodologies and processes in every aspect of both the design and construction process. Humans are realising that years of neglect on the environment has to change and they need to start living peacefully with the environment.

Hopefully the report shows that green design and construction is more than the selection of recycled or organic materials and involves a greater range of concerns. Mass green development is very possible and the opportunity is there to design and construct energy efficient and environmentally friendly homes and workplaces which do not compromise design but reveal our human ability to adapt to change and preserve the natural balance of the beautiful world.