5 Green Building Requirements Explained

Green building requirements

Green building requirements are; optimized site conditions, eco-friendly materials, innovative design, alternative energy sources, recycling and conservative functionalities.

They are the most important factors or main considerations which must be in place for a green building to be set-up and maintained effectively.

This article discusses green building requirements, as follows;

 

 

1). Optimized Site Conditions (as one of the Green Building Requirements)

Site selection is one of the essential aspects of planning in green building development [5].

In order for a green building to be constructed and maintained optimally, a sustainable and eco-compatible site must be used.

Site sustainability can be assessed in terms of topography, drainage, soil, water and air quality, presence of vegetation, and areal span.

In cases where some or all of these factors are not satisfied, a selected site can undergo intensive environmental remediation to optimize and make it sustainable.

The goal of seeking optimized site conditions for green building is to ensure that the building remains conservative through its overall lifecycle and in every aspect of its configuration; beginning from location and environmental conditions.

Sites that have been affected by unfavorable environmental impacts of human activity; like deforestation, desertification and climate change; can still be used as a location for green building; so long as they can be optimized effectively before and during construction; with minimal risk of any problems in the course of the building’s lifecycle.

Generally, the expectations from an optimized green building site are ease of navigation, optimal environment quality, allowance for renewable energy exploitation (such as installation of solar panels and wind turbines), as well as suitability for waste management and resource recycling.

2). Eco-Friendly Materials

Green buildings require eco-friendly materials to be used for their construction.

These materials are those that have the least (or minimal) impact on the ecosystem, in all stages of their lifecycle, including formation, extraction, processing, recycling and disposal.

The process of using sustainable materials in green buildings can be described as material substitution; as it involves replacing conventional building materials like steel and cement-based concrete, which are high in carbon content and emission potential [1].

As such, it is possible to view sustainable material usage as a form of decarbonization and detoxification of construction; since these materials are selected based on their compatibility with (and safety for) the ecosystem.

Examples of sustainable materials used in green building include straw bale, recycled steel, bamboo, cork, stone, hempcrete, recycled plastic, mycelium, reclaimed wood, brick, cordwood, and rammed earth [4].

Using these materials also contributes to the mitigation of pollution of various kinds including air and plastic pollution (a form of soil and water degradation).

Concrete is also usually included among green building materials. Its environmental impacts can be reduced through specialized practices like pre-casting and process-based carbon capture.

Ideas from other carbon removal technologies like ocean fertilization, can also be used to optimize concrete for green buildings. An example of such an application is the use of concrete with water-activated bacteria for carbon removal [2].

Green Building Requirements: Eco-Friendly Materials (Credit: SuSanA Secretariat 2015 .CC BY 2.0.)
Green Building Requirements: Eco-Friendly Materials (Credit: SuSanA Secretariat 2015 .CC BY 2.0.)

3). Innovative Design (as one of the Green Building Requirements)

Innovative design is one of the requirements of green building(s), since innovation is required to shift from conventional to sustainable building concepts.

The innovation which is applied in designing green buildings, covers multiple areas including exterior architecture and geometry, and interior spatial/technical configuration.

In many cases, green buildings are designed to resemble and function like smart houses. It is important here to note the difference between the two concepts, as green buildings are optimized mainly for the ecosystem, while smart houses/buildings are optimized mainly for autonomous functionality.

However, green buildings can be equipped with some innovative components drawn from the smart house concept, such as artificial intelligence-driven power usage monitors, energy management systems, air purifiers and temperature regulators.

Other innovative implementations in green building include radiation systems, water efficiency and conservation, fiberglass windows, and self-heating concrete.

All forms of innovation used in the context of green building (as a structure, process, concept and practice) must be in line with socioeconomic considerations like environmental justice, and the efforts to control resource depletion.

4). Alternative Energy Sources

The energy transition movement is integrated into the concept and development of green building [6].

This means that ‘innovation’ in green buildings must incorporate means to effectively utilize alternative energy resources.

Generally, such alternatives are expected to be an improvement on fossil fuels in terms of mitigation of greenhouse emissions.

Examples of alternative energy technologies that are applicable to green building are; organic solar cells, geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines, and hydroelectric systems.

Energy storage systems like flow batteries and deep cycle batteries can also be viewed as alternative energy technologies, since they boost the performance of such technologies through storage.

These alternative energy technologies may occur in any of various scales (small, large), and may be used either as a public or private facility, depending on situational factors and the nature of demand from the green building(s) involved.

Availability of some alternative energy resources like water can be supplemented through in situ recycling and conservation, and the incorporation of small-scale water dams.

Functionalities like sustainable insulation can also be considered to be closely linked to alternative energy in green buildings, since they support two of the objectives of alternative energy development; being energy conservation and energy efficiency respectively.

Power distribution equipment like microgrids and smart grid networks work together with alternative energy technologies to distribute power to (or in) green building facilities.

Green Building Requirements: Alternative Energy Sources (Credit: Tom Chance 2017 .CC BY 2.0.)
Green Building Requirements: Alternative Energy Sources (Credit: Tom Chance 2017 .CC BY 2.0.)

5). Recycling and Conservation Functionalities (as one of the Green Building Requirements)

Green building requirements include recycling and resource conservation, both of which are essential for establishing resource efficiency [3].

It is important to note that recycling and conservation can also be categorized under other green building requirements like innovative design. However, they must be discussed separately since they constitute one of the most important and basic objectives of green building development.

Waste management is usually at the forefront of recycling and conservation efforts.

Green building may incorporate some concepts and practices of waste-to-energy, as well as principles of circular economy, to ensure that waste materials produced in green buildings do not contribute to environmental degradation or resource depletion.

Aside waste, other resources targeted for conservation and recycling in green buildings include water and energy. Measures like rainwater harvesting and greywater treatment are useful for conservation of water, while energy efficient appliances, and regulation systems are useful for energy conservation.

Conclusion

Green building requirements are;

1. Optimized Site Conditions

2. Eco-Friendly Materials

3. Innovative Design

4. Alternative Energy Sources

5. Recycling and Conservation Functionalities

References

1). Afrin, H.; Huda, N.; Abbasi, R. (2021). “An Overview of Eco-Friendly Alternatives as the Replacement of Cement in Concrete.” IOP Conference Series Materials Science and Engineering 1200(1):012003. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1088/1757-899X/1200/1/012003. (Accessed 21 November 2022).

2). Handore, A. V.; Khandelwal, S. R.; Karmakar, R.; Jagtap, A. S.; Handore, D. V. (2022). “Bioconcrete: The Promising Prospect for Green Construction.” Ecological and Health Effects of Building Materials (pp.567-584). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-76073-1_29. (Accessed 21 November 2022).

3). Ji, S. (2016). “Green Building Materials and their Common Use in Everyday Life.” Available at: https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.1.1635.4323. (Accessed 21 November 2022).

4). Orhon, A. V.; Altin, M. (2019). “Utilization of Alternative Building Materials for Sustainable Construction.” Environmentally-Benign Energy Solutions (pp.727-750). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-20637-6_36. (Accessed 21 November 2022).

5). Vilcekova, S.; Burdová, E. K.; Ondova, M. (2011). Site selection and project planning resulting in sustainable buildings.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266503430_Site_selection_and_project_planning_resulting_in_sustainable_buildings. (Accessed 21 November 2022).

6). Tong, Z. (2017). “Review of the Application of Green Building and Energy Saving Technology.” IOP Conference Series Earth and Environmental Science 100(1):012141. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1088/1755-1315/100/1/012141. (Accessed 21 November 2022).

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