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About Green Building

green 1What is a green building?

A green building is an energy efficient, resource efficient and environmentally responsible building, which incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate its negative impact on the environment and its occupants. Building green is an opportunity to use resources efficiently and address climate change while creating healthier and more productive environments for people to live and work in.

The building industry is one of the highest carbon-dioxide (CO²) producers in the world. Green buildings are an important part of reducing our carbon footprint on this planet.

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What does this mean in practice?

On a practical level, this encompasses the use of design, materials and technology to reduce energy and resource consumption and create improved human and natural environments. Specific green building measures include careful building design to reduce heat loads, maximise natural light and promote the circulation of fresh air; the use of energy-efficient air-conditioning and lighting; the use of environmentally friendly, non-toxic materials; the reduction of waste, and the use of recycled materials; water-efficient plumbing fittings and water harvesting; the use of renewable energy sources; and sensitivity with regard to the impact of the development on the environment.

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Solar and Sustainable Architecture - what does this mean for you?

 Passive solar architecture:
this process starts right at the beginning, namely at town planning stage. Situation and orientation of streets; properties; situation and orientation of buildings on the properties; public open spaces etc. need to be carefully considered for minimum impact on the environment. The better a building is designed in a "passive" way, the less active elements are needed.

Active solar architecture:
these are all the technical items that one could use to support the green building process. E.g. Solar warm water collectors, solar photovoltaic panels, heat pumps, heat exchangers etc.

The earlier the architect gets involved in the planning process, the more passive elements can be incorporated and the less active solar elements will be needed to reach a green build standard.

Some important points to be considered when building in a sustainable passive way:

  • Building materials - where do they come from and how much energy is needed to produce them and to get them to site
  • How much energy will it take to eventually demolish a building and without permanent damage to the environment
  • Proportion of windows/openings in relation to walls
  • Shading systems
  • Roof style and shape
  • Energy zones and natural ventilation inside the house

What is a rating tool?

A green building rating tool sets standards and benchmarks for green building, and enables an objective assessment to be made as to how "green" a building is. The rating system sets out a "menu" of all the green measures that can be incorporated into a building to make it green. Points are awarded to a building according to which measures have been incorporated, and, after appropriate weighting, a total score is arrived at, which determines the rating. [MORE INFO]