For millions of years, our planet has supported and nurtured innumerable species of living organisms. Throughout the ages, our civilizations have existed in perfect harmony with nature…until now. Within the span of one natural human lifecycle, we have wreaked havoc on this planet by our increasing environment degrading activities. The extent of our urban development has reached a point where the damage done to the environment is catastrophic and irreversible. The construction industry contributes over 40% to these disastrous effects on the planetSource

However, it seems that now the construction industry is taking efforts to retrace its steps back on the path to environmental degradation. The incorporation of the concept of green buildings in the construction business is paving the way for a benchmark for other industries to follow the lead and invest in sustainable development.

What are Green Buildings?

Usually, people tend to confuse green buildings as just the sort of average buildings that are made of sustainable materials that have minimum or no negative effect on the environment. But green buildings are so much more than that. In short, they can be defined as building projects that support, nurture and preserve most of the natural environment around the site, while still being able to serve their purpose. The construction and operations of a green building doesn’t hamper the natural resources such as land, water and vegetation in and around the building and at the same time promotes and maintains a healthy environment for all parties involved.

There are a number of attributes that are instrumental in creating a green building. A few major features that are incorporated in a green building are the efficient use of energy, water and other resources, use of renewable energy, along with developing a design that adapts to the climatic changes and uses sustainable material. The focus is to improve the life of the occupant along with preserving the environment. Using newer technologies like Artificial Intelligence, BIM Support, etc. helps in optimizing the use of natural resources and control material waste while providing a flexible approach to the design and maintenance of the building.

Green Buildings and the Purpose They Serve

The idea of green buildings is one that originated recently in the latter half of the twentieth century when the American architect Paul Soleri proposed the concept of ecological architecture. This simple yet brilliant concept gave rise to a whole new way of sustainable architecture. Today, green buildings are developed that have special designs and adaptations that allow cohabitation of humans and flora. This symphony of humans with one of the most crucial elements of nature is a win-win for both species. Plants and trees get to keep their spaces and thrive under regular care of people and the inhabitants of these buildings get to enjoy significantly cooler temperatures without the need to consume energy, thus reducing their carbon footprint by a considerable amount.

Additionally, a majority of these green buildings are equipped with additional features such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting and wastewater treatment systems as well as electronic fixtures that adjust temperature and lighting according to the atmosphere readings and sunlight. These additional features are a boon for today’s urban spaces where energy conserving, sustainably developed yet smart and technology driven buildings are the need of the hour.

It is noteworthy to mention here that architects and engineers have to take a slightly different approach in design and documentation for these buildings to be certified by a green building rating authority. There are several options for certifications across different countries and internationally from which one can choose the most relevant one for the project. These certifications provide a guideline on various aspects of construction which can be imbibed in Construction Documentation Services to create an energy efficient building.

An overview of THE EDGE

The Edge in Amsterdam a.k.a. ‘A computer with a roof’ is one of the greenest and smartest buildings in the worlds. It is located in Amsterdam, Netherlands and serves as the office headquarters of Deloitte.

The Edge in Amsterdam

The Edge in Amsterdam

This masterpiece designed by PLP Architecture and built by OVG Real Estate serves as an epitome of sustainability. It is designed to be oriented along the path of the sun to reap maximum benefits of its solar panels that are spread along an area of 65,000 sq. ft. covering its roof and facades. The abundance of solar panels enables the building to produce more energy than it consumes, the remaining of which it utilizes to power the nearby university.

Other smart and green elements of the building include using rainwater harvesting system for irrigation and flushing purposes, Ethernet-powered LED lighting and an aquifer thermal energy system used to constantly maintain building temperature in an effort to minimize its carbon footprint. The materials used to build The Edge were also sustainable i.e. they have a low environmental impact on their production, placing and maintenance. These materials are also reliable, durable, recyclable and reusable. Most of the building is made using glass. Glass, although a common material is an extremely resource – efficient material – it is completely recyclable and can be recycled over and over again.

The building also features an ecological corridor which is a green space designed over the nearby motorway allowing animals to cross over the site safely. The building creates a natural circle of air purification by ventilating the excess air back out through a heat exchanger to reuse and reheat the air. By fusing green architecture with a technology-driven philosophy, the building is a shining example of symbiosis that other industries can use to model themselves after.

Future of Green Buildings

In today’s era of rapid climate change, it is necessary, now more than ever, to adopt maximum ways in which we can incorporate sustainability and green buildings is one of the major keys to achieving it.

In recent years, energy efficiency has gained a priority in the list of essential qualities that a building must have. Even though initially it makes construction companies expand their project budgets, the falling costs, combined with government backing is a tremendous aid in driving change. Green buildings are in fact, the most valuable investment for the future of mankind that will play a key role in making this planet habitable again before it’s too late. Green buildings are the solution to meet net zero target needs as well as to become and make people environmentally conscious.

Although the concept of green architecture has come a long way, it still has an extensive scope in the future. The incorporation of more energy efficient technologies like advanced ventilation systems, heat pumps and smart building applications is the future of green buildings that we look forward to. These technologies are crucial to make the leap from ‘minimizing’ carbon footprint of the building to ‘eliminating’ it.