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Environmental And Economic Impacts Of Green Architecture

1646 words (7 pages) Essay in Environmental Sciences

24/04/17 Environmental Sciences Reference this

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Green buildings, also known as sustainable buildings, are structures that have revolutionized the way we live. These assemblies are designed, built, renovated, operated, or re-used in an ecological and resource efficient manner. Its sustainable development is helping maintain a balance between the human need to improve its lifestyle and feeling of well-being, while preserving natural resources and ecosystems. Green Architecture has the objective of using energy, water and other resources more efficiently and reducing the overall impact to the environment. It protects an occupant’s health, improves an employee’s productivity, and offers an optimal environmental and economic performance. Among its many economic benefits, it reduces operating costs, has marketing advantages, increases building valuations, and optimizes life-cycle performance costs. Its health and safety benefits include the enhancement of an occupants comfort and health. Its community benefits help minimize the strain on local infrastructures and improve the quality of life. (Ken 1)

Green Architecture can be defined as the restructuring and creation of buildings that are beneficial and have a minimal impact on the environment. They are several approaches to green construction that involve the responsibility of recycling existing resources, along with the efficient use of environmentally friendly systems that will provide power and water services to sustainable buildings. Throughout the past century, more people have become concerned and aware of the proper use of the planet’s resources. This is why the fundamental concepts and objectives of green architecture have gained both society’s interest and acceptance. (Tatum 1)

A green architect’s mission is to design buildings that will provide the necessary functions, without posing a threat to the surrounding environment. This implies the use of building materials that are composed of organic compounds instead of synthetics. Some of these materials include the use of wood, stones, bricks, or other elements that are harvested from older buildings scheduled for demolition. These materials are generally joined with newer technologies creating structures that fit into the surrounding landscape. Some of these newer technologies refer to the instalment of solar panels and modern rainwater collection systems. This will make best use of the available resources for heating, cooling, cooking, and supplying water to the building. (Tatum 1)

The quality of air is a crucial factor in any living or working environment, which is why it is easy to exclude pollution as only an outdoor problem. Nevertheless, it can still be quite problematic indoors due to poor ventilation systems that can be potentially hazardous to human health. Conventional building materials and furnishings emit formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals. Paints, solvents and household cleaning products emit volatile organic compounds and other fumes. Stoves and fireplaces emit carbon monoxide and smoke particulates. Most buildings contain natural biological pollutants such as dust mites and moulds. Product manufacturers in the construction and building industry have been able to introduce products that reduce these emissions of formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds and other potentially harmful chemicals. (Grey 1)

Fresh air is a critical factor for optimal health. Homes in the colder climates have a closer structure that heats up the air and constantly recirculates the only air that leaks through the envelope providing fresh air. Heat recovery ventilation is a good insurance policy against build-up of indoor air problems without paying an energy penalty for direct fresh air ventilation.

It uses stale indoor air while providing fresh air with only a small energy cost. Green buildings reduce IAQ problems by providing good ventilation allowing the natural flow of fresh air through the house. They have exhaust systems for radon gas; avoid wood products that contain formaldehyde, use less or no volatile organic compounds (VOC) interior paints, solvent-free-finishes, and solvent-free construction adhesives. (GreenBuilding 1)

Green buildings seek to reduce our dependency on energy sources that come from non-renewable sources. Instead, they pursue to turn that reliance to sourcing energy from renewable sources and change our lifestyle of dependence. Certain programmes such as the Low Carbon Building’s Programme, like to emphasize the importance of householders in meeting several criteria in the property. It states that the entire loft space of the property must be insulated, have cavity wall insulation if the property has cavity walls. There should be basic controls on the home heating system that include a timer and a thermostat; and the installment of low energy light bulbs in all the appropriate light fittings. (Murray- White 1).

In countries such as Canada, it is reported that municipal water systems leak up to a quarter of demand during distribution. Even though the infrastructure weakens, the use has increased by 26.7% since the 1980’s as reported by the Eco-research team at the University of Victoria. However, there is enough renewable fresh rainwater to satisfy the needs of families with low resources. Rainwater lessens the dependency on municipal services and saves money, making it more than just sustainable. Organizations such as Health Canada have shown concerns regarding the safety and purity of the water source. This is why they have met with the challenge of building a sustainable water use system. Rainwater harvesting consists on collecting, storing and treating rainwater for watering exterior plants, toilet and laundry use, with potential portable use. The degree of treatment varies depending on its final use. (Hugh 1)

Gathering water can come from hard surfaces, such as metal roofs, which is simpler than the capturing of water on vegetable roofs. For example, Lawn water can be collected from the surface or below grade using drainage piping which utilizes the earth for filtering. Regarding the maintenance or cleaning of water, other than removing the solids likes leaves; no special cleaning is required when the water is used for landscaping, swimming pools, laundry and toilets. However, ultraviolet is a safety measure used for killing bacteria which relies on the use of electricity. When water is intended for direct contact with humans, such as showers and sinks, additional treatments will always be necessary. (Hugh 1)

Green architecture produces less waste by using renewable plant materials such as bamboo due to its rapid growth, lumber from forests certified to be sustainably managed, recycled stones and metals. It also uses other products that are non-toxic, reusable, renewable, and/or recyclable; for example: sheep wool, adobe, baked earth, rammed earth, clay, cork, coconuts, wood fibre plates, flax linen, and others. The Canada Green Building Council suggests the use of recycled industrial goods, such as coal combustion products, foundry sand, and demolition debris in construction projects. For example, the use of polyurethane blocks reduces carbon emissions, provides more speed, cost less and is environmentally friendly. Building materials should be extracted and manufactured locally to the building site in order to minimize energy use through transportation. Building elements should be manufactured off-site and delivered to the building site, to maximise benefits of off-site manufacture including minimizing waste, maximising recycling, high quality elements, better OHS (occupational health and safety) management, less noise and dust. (Environment 1)

The most criticized issue about constructing green buildings is the price, claiming it to be too expensive to be considered economically possible. However, studies have shown that the costs of green buildings are not anymore higher than regular development projects. Higher construction costs can generally be avoided by the incorporation of green designs from the outset of the project. Green Value is the net additional value obtainable by a green building in the market. This study shows that green buildings can achieve greater value than their conventional equivalents. However, it was discovered that the green building industry and others may be failing to get the message across that the main beneficiaries are the occupants. For example, a lot of attention has been focused on energy savings making it easy to measure. However, these are usually less than 1% of business operating costs. By comparison, total annual real estate expenses are usually around 10% of such costs while staff costs can be high as 85%. This means that the biggest return on investments should arise when green buildings improve business productivity. (Green Value 2)

Due to the high increase in fuel costs over recent years, more people are choosing to purchase green homes and business premises. Green homes have more effective insulation, take advantage of the sun’s solar power, minimise the effects of summer heat, and favour energy efficient appliances and water conservation features. Even though the costs of these items may take time to recoup, there are many available loans, grants and subsides that assist people in helping them go green. Certain known green building practices benefit its customers as well as the environment. They incorporate longer-lasting materials, careful construction assemblies and design features that can reduce maintenance and costs. Strict indoor air quality guidelines ensure a comfortable and healthy living and working environment. The overall result of green building and its economic impact is the enhanced value and better resale across the lifespan of a home and business. (Durham 1)

Canada has been recognized as a global leader in the green building industry, with more than 770 certified green buildings in use across the entire country. Canadian companies have earned a worldwide reputation for their innovation and excellence in the construction, design and operation of green buildings. Helping the planet recover requires a firm commitment, and Green building will lessen the damage being caused to the environment making the world a healthier place for future generations. The essence and definition of green architecture is to build in a way that minimizes environmental impact and promote a healthier indoor environment for occupants. As energy prices continue to rise and more people become conscious of their personal impact on the environment, green building has become the mainstream of the construction industry. It has become a movement that will affect and influence builders, property owners, and insurers for many years to come. (Canada Mortgage HC. 1)

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