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What Role Can Green Buildings Play in Environmental Sustainability?

1138 words (5 pages) Essay in Environmental Studies

18/05/20 Environmental Studies Reference this

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Climate change and environment issues represent major threats to life on the planet, such as higher temperatures and more heat waves, rising sea level, and more droughts and wildfire (Wollersheim L., 2017). According to Greer F.’s study (2019), a traditional building construction leads to the main detrimental effects on our climate and environment, mostly through resource use. To solve these issues of environmental sustainability, green buildings are a simple solution introduced to mitigate or eliminate the negative impacts of traditional buildings and generate positive outcomes on not only our environment but also the economy. This essay focuses on the main benefits of green buildings in terms of water efficiency, energy efficiency and cost saving. It will also describe the serious setbacks creating a lack of green building development.

The majority of residents benefit from the results of using green buildings either directly or indirectly. The main positive direct impacts on the environment are water efficiency and energy efficiency. From the perspective of water efficiency, the scientific evidence shows that green buildings have a positive influence on the environment in terms of using water efficiently in different countries. For example, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia achieved a 55.4 percent reduction in water consumption by using the green technologies in a residential building such as low-flow showerheads, dual-flush cisterns and a greywater system (Taleb and Sharples, cited in Alsulaili, 2019). Further evidence suggests that scientists found that when using the green plumbing fixtures in the USA, there was a significant decrease in the use of water in restroom and kitchen, and the potable water usage for transferring sewage by 30 and 89 percent respectively (Dafza, cited in Alsulaili, 2019). Therefore, green buildings can be a positive measure to solve the current environment issues in terms of water saving.

Similarly, green buildings can create positive effects on our environment through energy efficiency. The World Green Building Council (Website, 2019) believes that the nations implementing the green building concept accomplished the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in terms of energy efficiency. For instance, according to Alalouch et al.’s research (2019), in the Oman Eco-House Design Competition for two-floor house construction, there was a noticeable decrease in the energy consumption by approximately 40 percent (Alalouch et al., cited in Alsulaili, 2019). Further study suggests that the buildings having Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification (LEED certification) in terms of using energy efficiently reduce energy consumption by over one-quarter (Turner C. and Frankel M., cited in Zuo, 2014). As a result, the energy efficiency of green buildings can have the result of less environmental issues. This causes more environmental sustainability.

From an economic perspective, the trend towards water and energy efficiency from green building progress will result in greater resource cost saving. This is likely to benefit all businesses that seek to make a profit for their success. According to Lau et al.’s study, using resources efficiently helped residential buildings to save their expenditure of this sector by 55 percent (Lau et al., cited in Zuo, 2014). Therefore, green buildings are a practical solution to environment issues in terms of businesses.

Although green buildings can create positive impacts described above on our climate, natural environment, and businesses, there are setbacks that have an influence on the development of green buildings. One of the main setbacks is a lack of clear definition of green building (Zuo, J. and Zhao, Z., 2014). The developed and developing nations have developed a mass of the well-known green building assessment systems, for instance, BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM, United Kingdom), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED, United States), Green Building Council of Australia Green Star (GBCAGS, Australia) and Green Mark Scheme (Singapore). All these assessment systems are designed to identify and measure a range of the success of a green building. Although almost all systems have the similarities of the fundamental principle that cover various aspects of sustainability, there are differences in detailed assessment criteria among countries that depend on local climate and specific requirement of each country. The SABA Green Building Rating System for Jordan is a good example of an assessment system that more concentrates on local issues. It was compared with other leading green building assessment systems such as LEED, BREEAM, and GBTools. The research report (HH and Nsairat, cited in Zuo, 2014) showed that the SABA Green Building Rating System more focused on social sustainability and economic sustainability. Moreover, more 50 percent of the total assessment points were given in the parts of water and energy efficiency because of a shortage of water and resources in Jordan. This percentage is greater than other assessment systems. Further main setback is the lack of public awareness (Zuo, J. and Zhao, Z., 2014). The behaviors of social people have an influence on the implementation of green buildings. For example, the study of Chau et al. showed that most people in Hong Kong prefer to spend more expenditure on the solution to energy problems than other aspects of green building such as water efficiency, indoor quality, and noise control (Chau et al., cited in Zuo, 2014). In other words, they rarely pay attention to what green building is and what benefits are. As a result, these reasons contribute to a lack of green building development.

In conclusion, green buildings represent one of the major solutions to the issues of climate and environment. Green building development can help to save water and energy for the public and gain more profits for businesses in terms of resource-saving. There is scientific evidence that green buildings can bring a plethora of benefits. Therefore, green buildings can play a vital role in environmental sustainability. However, the growth of green buildings increases slightly at present, several related setbacks can be anticipated. For instance, a lack of clear definition of green building and a shortage of awareness of people. There are actions that governments or relevant organizations should take to implement a range of measures to enhance the green buildings to reduce or eliminate environmental impacts for the long-term sustainability of our environment.

References

  • Wollersheim L., 2017, Climageddon: The Global Warming Emergency & How To Survive It, Job One for Humanity (May 2, 2017).
  •  Greer F. & Chittick J. & Jackson E. & Mack J. & Shortlidge M. & Grubert E., 2019, Energy and water efficiency in LEED: How well are LEED points linked to climate outcomes?, Energy & Buildings 195 (2019), 161–167.
  • Zuo, J. & Zhao, Z., 2014, Green building research – current status and future agenda: A review, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 30 (2014), 271–281.
  • Alsulaili, A. & Al‑Matrouk, M. & Al‑Baghli, R. & Al‑Enezi, A., 2019, Environmental and economic benefits of applying green building concepts in Kuwait, Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering and Petroleum, Kuwait University, Kuwait.
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