The phrase “Go Green” has been circulating in common conversation for years; however it has only been in the last decade that the phrase has gained traction and has now become a hot topic in all walks of life. The phrase has grown to such importance that it has even influenced modern day architecture, creating a new branch called green architecture.
Green does not of course mean colour or just green plants! Green architecture is a method of sustainable building design where the design and construction of a building or structure is done while keeping the environment in mind. Therefore, architects who create green buildings generally work with the key concepts of creating an energy efficient, environmentally friendly house or a ‘green building.’
Of course, in order for a building to be classified as green it needs to fulfill certain criteria; but what are these criteria? What makes a building green? In this article we will list 6 criteria that make a building green in Malaysia as stated by the green building index (GBI) rating tool and how it helps reduce its carbon footprint.
1. Energy Efficiency
This covers how the building’s design deals with the distribution of energy and its consumption. It states that in order for a building to be considered green in this regard, it must optimise building orientation, harvesting as much natural light as possible, minimise solar heat gain, use renewable energy in building services, and ensure proper testing, commissioning and regular maintenance of its energy use. By increasing energy efficiency we reduce the wastage of energy and thus use fewer resources for creating energy, which in turn reduces its carbon footprint.
2. Indoor Environment Quality
The outside environment is not the only thing that influences our health; the quality of our indoor environment also plays a major role, more so now than ever before since many people spend a majority of their time indoors. To achieve a high quality indoor environment, architects must take into account the air quality, the acoustics, the visual and the thermal comforts. This involves the use of quality air filtration methods as well as proper ventilation, as well as sustainable temperature and humidity control. By creating a better indoor environment with better air quality and temperature control, you can reduce energy expenditure, decrease your carbon footprint, and also save money.
3. Sustainable Site Planning & Management
Buildings that take into account appropriate sites that have easy access to public transport, open spaces such as parks, community services and good landscaping, and proper storm water management show a good amount of sustainable planning and management. Staying close to public transport encourages residents to use this form of transportation rather than buying their own vehicle; and having proper parks and landscaping with greenery and plants promotes a healthy environment and goes a long way into reducing the carbon footprint.
4. Materials & Resources
A green building is only truly green if it uses environmentally friendly and sustainable materials and resources when being built; and afterwards for maintenance and running of the facilities. Builders must also practice proper waste management systems with storage, collection and re-use of recyclables. By reusing old materials and recycling you can eliminate the need to create new ones which in turn reduces carbon emissions.
5. Water Efficiency
This includes using methods through which the building may recycle water and use water saving fittings in their pipes to prevent unnecessary wastage of water. It also includes methods such as rain water harvesting and filtration of used water. Recycling water requires less energy compared to pumping new water. Reduced energy consumption equals reduced carbon emissions which mean a reduced carbon footprint.
This criteria is bit more ambiguous as it involves any innovative design, initiative or method which promotes sustainable living, helps the environment, reduces carbon emissions and meets with the objectives set by the green building index (GBI). Examples are innovations in design, tailoring the building to to respond to local needs, and creating business and employment.
To obtain the Malaysian GBI certification, the building has to be reassessed every three years. Depending on the score (out of 100), a building is awarded a rating of: Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.
Green buildings and green architecture is the way of the future, everyone wants to play their part and help contribute to the environment in any and every way they can. More green buildings means a more sustainable lifestyle with reduced carbon emissions and a green and healthy environment for everyone. We do not have to go far to do our part we can start at home and having a green home is a very good start.
Want to learn more about a healthy and green living? Want to know if your home qualifies for a GBI certification? Talk to us, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.