With the world's population expanding and migrating to cities (77% by 2050), it is clear that sustainable planning and building is becoming increasingly crucial. Cities currently account for 70% of greenhouse-gas emissions, 30% of which are generated by buildings, with the industry being responsible for sending millions of tons of waste to the landfill, every year.
While Green Building is now on everybody's mind, there are still doubts on what it is and the reasons behind it.
What is Green Building?
Green Building refers to structures designed to have lower energy and water consumption and a better indoor environment (air quality) than traditionally designed buildings. The most widely used certification for green buildings is called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The Green Building Council SA uses the Green Star South Africa rating system to recognise and reward environmental leadership in the built environment. Based on the Australian system, this rating system has been adapted to the South African context.
Generally, the following elements improve the "greenability" of a structure:
- Ventilation for thermal insulation
- Insulation to improve energy efficiency
- Rooftop planting to reduce runoff and mitigate heat
- Water conservation
- Building orientation
- Modulate lighting
- Rainwater system
- Smart heating and cooling system
Why Green Building?
The quality of the Building adds value to the health of its inhabitants. Improved air quality and absence of humidity seeping through foundations and noise reduction increase the productivity while decreasing illnesses.
There are economic benefits too, such as a drop in maintenance costs and higher occupancy rates. Less consumption equals fewer expenses, with considerable environmental gains.
In light of the recent drought affecting the African continent, SAVING has become the new mantra. While a more considerate attitude towards natural resources is the smart way forward, Green Building channels energy efficiency by adding value to the places where you eat, sleep, work and play.
So, does Green Building really matter?
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