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Current Conditions of Green Architecture

Introduction

The architects have been working tirelessly to come up with green design using the emerging technology as a way of enhancing sustainability not only on the structure, but also to the environment. However, Ghani (21) notes that in order to have a sustainable environment, there is a need to create environmentally responsible minds.1 The scholar says that we cannot achieve sustainable development if the members of the society do not appreciate and uphold the principles of sustainability. The role of architects in designing structures, especially in the urban settings, that will help in convincing the society that we need to protect our environment for future generation is, therefore, very important. That is why the concept of Green Architecture, also known as Sustainable Architecture, has emerged. The use of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials in the construction process might have made the work of the architects a lot easier than it was before. However, such materials have devastating impacts on the environment. They do not constitute green architecture because they will expose the future generation to so many problems. Other than designing the structures that will be ‘speaking out’ to the society about the need to embrace sustainable development, it is also important for the architects to ensure that they use environmentally friendly materials such as stones, earth, and wood. Ghani (23) says that there are some problems associated with green architecture.2 In this paper, the researcher will focus on the problems of green architecture and their possible solutions.

Problems of Green Architectures

According to Stauskis (184), there has been a raging debate as to whether green architecture has actually achieved its original goal or not.3 To answer this question, it is important to understand how green architecture works. It is the responsibility of the architects to meet the needs of their clients in a way that does not threaten the environment. Green architecture involves designing and developing structures that do not pose threats to the environment. As we struggle to achieve the current needs today, we have the responsibility to protect the interests of the future generation. Chambers (13) says that the emergence of high rise building was an example of a huge breakthrough in the field of architect.4 It facilitated rapid development of cities around the world as human beings started putting into use the vertical space. However, green architecture goes beyond this. It involves how technology can be used to develop structures that are environmentally friendly. This starts by defining the materials that are safe to the current and future generation when designing structures. The materials must then be extracted from their natural sources in a way that they will have the least possible negative impact on the environment. For instance, if it is harvesting of trees, it must be done in a sustainable manner so that it does not pose any threat to the environment.

It is important to appreciate that in the process of trying to reach the green standards, there are some challenges that stakeholders face, the fact that has slowed the ability to achieve the targeted goals. According to Miroslav (11), these challenges are the very principles of sustainable architecture that we seek to achieve. These challenges include the following.5

Affordability

From the automobiles to the ultra-modern houses, it is a common knowledge that the eco-friendly structures are turning out to be the most expensive. Instead of using common materials in construction that are cheap and readily available, green architects are forced to manipulate naturally occurring environmentally friendly materials to come up with the same structures. Such processes are not only time consuming, but also very tedious. The final structure may be magnificent as the one shown below, but the associated costs may be prohibitive.

Green Architectural Design
Figure 1: Green Architectural Design 1

Such prohibitive costs have slowed the ability of the architects and developers to commercialize such structures. Instead of coming up with more affordable structures, Bovill (7) says that some of the magnificent houses built using the environmentally friendly materials are more expensive than the conventional houses.6

Appropriate design

Architectural designs have evolved over the years as the experts try to balance beauty, functionality, durability and the associated costs. The architects are keen on coming up with structures that defy the law of gravity, maximize both horizontal and vertical space, and meets the needs of their clients however unique they may be. Some of the materials that have made this possible are not friendly to the environment. When the eco-friendly materials are used, then some components described above may need to be sacrificed. This is demonstrated in the figure below.

Green Architectural Design
Figure 2: Green Architectural Design 2

The beauty and functionality is guaranteed in the above building. However, with the trees on the roof, durability and safety are issues that may not be guaranteed. The vertical scale may not be maximized because of the nature of the materials.

Energy efficiency

One of the most important aspects of green architecture is that it seeks to encourage the use of green energy. Solar and wind are the most popular green sources of energy. However, the current technology has no capacity to tap enough energy from these two sources to support the commercial needs. It means that a commercial house that has been constructed using the green technology may still be forced to use energy from sources that pollute the environment. This defeats the very essence of having such sustainable structures.

Durability

Durability for the architectural designs is another important factor of concern both to the clients and experts. Building a glamorous house using the eco-friendly materials may not be enough. The structure should be durable in order to avoid the possibilities of a new construction being necessary within a short span of time. The figure below shows an example of a house built green architectural design.

Green Architectural Design
Figure 3: Green Architectural Design 3

The structure above is beautiful, highly functional and environmentally friendly. The only problem that may arise is the durability considering the materials used and the associated cost of maintenance. These are fundamental issues that must be addressed in order to take green architecture to the next level. Addressing them may not be a simple process based on the current technologies. The section below looks at the possible ways that can be used to address these and other related problems associated with green architecture.

Solution to the Problems of Green Architectures

The sections above have identified some of the challenges related to green architecture. It is clear that sustainable architecture has created more solutions than problems. However, in order to reap its benefits, all the relevant stakeholders must play their different roles to eliminate these problems. The following stakeholders should play active roles in the process of looking for solutions.

Role of the architects

The architects play the central role in coming up with the problems related to green architecture. They hold the key to the future because they are the experts in this field. As mentioned before, they should go beyond building glamorous eco-friendly structures. Their structures should be a testimony to the public that we can and should make efforts to promote green architecture. When it comes to the issue of affordability discussed above, these experts should conduct further researches in order to come up with ways through which the associated costs may be lowered without degrading the value of the structures. On the issues of designs, architects have made impressive steps in making the eco-friendly structures more glamorous than the buildings constructed using conventional materials. The three examples given above are testimonies to this fact. However, they may need to do more than this. They will need to find a way in which these materials can be manipulated to enhance maximum use of the vertical space without posing any risk to the users. They also need to find eco-friendly techniques of making the materials durable. To do this, they will have to work very closely with all the relevant stakeholders.

Role of the government

The government has an important role in the elimination of the problems associated with green architecture. As Chambers (10) observes, government should offer subsidy on the materials used in the construction of eco-friendly structures.7 Architectures may have limited powers when it comes to generation of green energy. However, the government has the capacity to make this possible by supporting the projects in the green energy production.

Role of educational institutions

Institutions of education in this country must also play their roles in enhancing the development of green architecture in our society. This should be done by training more green architects to serve in the society. This dream can only be realized if there are experts with the capacity to deliver the expected results. According to Wines and Jodidio (56), most of the universities in this country are churning out graduates who know very little about the need to protect the environment.8 The scholar notes that graduates from business and engineering schools are the biggest threat to the environment. The business management graduates leave the school with astute skills on how to maximize profits. However, they have little or no knowledge about the sustainability of the environment. As they struggle to maximize profits by lowering costs, they take short-cuts which pose immense threats to the environment. To the engineers, they get into the manufacturing companies and facilitate the production of large amount of greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the air. The universities should ensure that every single graduate from their institution understands and commits to sustainable development in their respective careers. The universities are also best placed to champion for green architecture within the society. As individuals, the architects may find this task challenging. However, when they get the support of the learning institutions, this work will be easier.

Other relevant stakeholders

To the rest of the society, it is important to appreciate that we have a role to play in protecting our environment. We should support the architects both morally and financially in the quest to achieve sustainable architectural development. Above all, the society should start embracing green energy as a step towards sustainable development.

References

Bovill, Carl. Sustainability in Architecture and Urban Design. New York: Routledge, 2015. Print.

Chambers, Neil. Urban Green: Architecture for the Future. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Print.

Ghani, Fatima. Issues in Sustainable Architecture and Possible Solutions. International Journal of Civil & Environmental Engineering IJCEE-IJENS 12.1 (2012): 21-24. Print.

Miroslav, Marko. From Technologically “Green” Design to Authentically “Green” Practice: The Search for Architecture Capable of Creating Environmentally Responsible Minds, Rather Than Just Environmentally Responsible Buildings. Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 2005. Print.

Stauskis, Gintaras. Green Architecture Paradigm: From Urban Utopia to Modern Methods of Quality Assessment. Future of Lithuania 5.3 (2013): 181-188. Print.

Wines, James, and Philip Jodidio. Green Architecture. Köln: Taschen, 2008. Print.

Footnotes

  • 1 – Ghani, Fatima. Issues in Sustainable Architecture and Possible Solutions. International Journal of Civil & Environmental Engineering IJCEE-IJENS 12.1 (2012): 21.
  • 2 – Ghani, 23
  • 3 – Stauskis, Gintaras. Green Architecture Paradigm: From Urban Utopia to Modern Methods of Quality Assessment. Future of Lithuania 5.3 (2013): 183.
  • 4 – Chambers, Neil. Urban Green: Architecture for the Future. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 13.
  • 5 – Miroslav, Marko. From Technologically “Green” Design to Authentically “Green” Practice: The Search for Architecture Capable of Creating Environmentally Responsible Minds, Rather Than Just Environmentally Responsible Buildings. Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 2005. 11.
  • 6 – Bovill, Carl. Sustainability in Architecture and Urban Design. New York: Routledge, 2015. 7.
  • 7 – Chambers 10
  • 8 – Wines, James, and Philip Jodidio. Green Architecture. Köln: Taschen, 2008. 56.

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ApeGrade. (2022) 'Current Conditions of Green Architecture'. 10 April.

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