Sustainable construction is the future, as the world combats global warming and climate change. All over the world, governments and people are taking care to change their way of living so that less carbon is emitted and they have a minimum carbon footprint. In Europe, houses, businesses, public buildings take up more that 40% of all the energy that is being used, which is more than transport(28%) and industrial(32%) sectors. This means that 3.5 billion oil barrels are used up by buildings. These statistics may be for Europe but the same can be said for buildings worldwide leading to architects designing green buildings which would emit less greenhouse gases.
Importance of sustainable green home construction and practises
Green architects and designers are less in number and they have less resources but still are developing green designs in order to prove the viability of green design, for almost next to nothing, unlike bigger firms. Green NGOs try to promote green construction, but also try to benefit their members. In countries like Australia and South Africa, steps have been taken to popularise green home construction by displaying solar homes.
Some green home construction methods which need to be improved upon:
Present solar design does not make the most use of natural resources, which does not make these designs responsive to the prevalent local cultures and ecosystems.
Isolation of spaces
Urban planning needs to be improved to have cities and towns behave as oases in the deserts rather than alienation of space which is what makes sustainable green home practices so good.
Single functions of spaces
The designs which do not have more than one function for spaces have reduced opportunity for ecological services and functions or biological landscaping, need to be improved.
Due to the factor of durability or permanence, structures are still being made out of concrete and steel, instead of biodegradable materials.
Growing trends of eco friendly construction
Buildings which power themselves
The importance of sustainable green home construction and practices is being accepted worldwide and builders are focusing on zero energy during construction of buildings which are extremely energy efficient. Green and sustainable buildings are designed in a way that they produce power which is enough for their needs as well as having the capacity to send the extra energy back to the grid. Wind and solar power are the main sources of energy till now and new technologies are being developed to integrate this new tech into green buildings.
Skyscrapers can be easily powered by wind turbines due to the strong constant air at the high altitudes. What makes sustainable green home practices so good is the use of natural resources like the power of the sun to fulfil the energy requirements of the building. Photovoltaic cells are used on rooftops, skylights and windows to contribute to the energy needs of the building.
10-30% of a building / home’s energy consumption is due to lighting. As of now, LEDs are more energy efficient, requiring 1/10th of the energy used by CFLs. Organic LEDS, developed in Britain can be incorporated in buildings, in tiles and window-like substances which allow the sun’s rays in during the day while behaving as lights at night.
Growing trends of eco friendly construction includes the use of insulators such as ICFs (Insulating Concrete Forms) which uses polystyrene concrete shapes which interlock to build completely insulated walls. PCMs, which use ‘freeze’ and ‘melt’ at room temperatures which absorbs or releases heat and is the latest insulating trend.
Air purification methods which use internal air helps to lower the heating costs. Another innovative HVAC system which is on trend is passive radiant and solar heating in which warm air is used to heat buildings in winter and draw in cold air in summer.
Cities like Johannesburg are making efforts to educate citizens about green homes, not only in construction but also by adopting urban agriculture, planting their own food, composting, permaculture and so on. Sustainable green home practices and construction is now famous for the various innovations in green practices, which are gradually helping to reduce emissions from buildings.