Green architecture is definitely not black and white. Green architecture is inherently organic and integrated. There are currently many varying approaches and schools of thought behind this. I am no architect but I do have a huge appreciation for the art. I thoroughly enjoy the very few times in my day job as a construction manager when I’m able to sketch out details in the field or use my architectural drawing skills to get my idea across to the team.
I have started to notice the following trends in the green architecture arena.
1.) Passive Design – Orienting the building so that it is able to use the natural warmth and light from the sun. Just as important is the proper insulation of the building so comfort is preserved throughout the day. Another critical item is to make sure that the most efficient windows are used on the exterior of the building. The passive house (haus) system has become widely popular and they are able to use these methodologies to save over 80% energy usage when compared to conventional design. Here is a link to their website: http://www.passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/PassiveHouseInfo.html .
- Trombe walls
- Thermal bridge free construction
- High efficiency glazing
- Conserving resources through design
2.) High Performance Design – High performance design includes pushing the limit in all areas of the building. This includes the most efficient and typically most expensive envelope (exterior skin of the building), mechanical system, the electrical system, the lighting system, and even the plumbing system. ASHRAE publishes a truly great resource called High Performance Magazine which spotlights these types of buildings throughout the world, for more information visit here: http://www.hpbmagazine.org/
- Geothermal (Ground Source) heating & cooling
- Chilled beam technology
- Integrated design
- Technology pushing performance
3.) Smart Design – Smart design refers to the proper sizing of the building and it’s systems to fit the needs of the occupants. Traditionally buildings and their systems have been grossly oversized when compared to their actual needs and functionality. We are starting to see more homes and commercial buildings being built with this simplistic approach which can have major benefits for the environment and energy usage. My favorite local example of this is the Lofts at 909 – http://loftsat909.com/lofts/ . They used an old abandoned school and converted it into ultra modern, compact urban apartments. They look really awesome.
- Shared spaces
- Multi-Functional spaces
- Easily convertible spaces
- Emerge Alliance
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