The space around us in our waking up time as well as sleeping time is proven to have direct effect on human well being and happiness. As per a recent survey by U.S, on an average 90% of the time is spent living indoors. If the built environment is not conducive to the mental and physical health, then it will definitely affect the happiness factor, cognitive functioning, human efficiencies and sense of well being. The working spaces which are well lit, naturally ventilated or air-conditioned to right temperature & humidity levels, free of volatile organic compounds and other toxins, have safe levels of particulate matter in air, are oxygenated well, give a sense of space and connect to natural environment are surely the ones which are worth inhabiting. Green Buildings ensure these parameters.
Globally Buildings are responsible for consuming at least 40% energy use, (which is equivalent to one-third of carbon emissions) 42% of the global water consumption, 50% of global consumption of raw materials during manufacture, construction and operational periods of buildings. More than half the current global building stock is expected to still be standing in 2050. Considering that they will last for over 100 years, the sustainability assessment ambit needs to be expanded to the new & existing building both. Its time to move from intuitive assessment of building to benchmarking their performance in real terms and evaluate energy & water consumption, environmental impacts, visual, thermal & acoustic comforts. Once that data is measured, there is a scope of managing it to ensure environment health, human comfort & well being. Retrofit solutions can be implemented so as to bring financial benefits to the owner and to the occupants. Environmental benefits happen by default by doing so.
The fundamental driver behind green buildings is reducing energy & water consumption and conservation, reduce waste generation, use time & cost saving construction methodologies, use low embodied energy materials etc. which directly relates to financial benefits. To offset the rising cost of utilities, optimum water consumption in the wake of water scarcity, contributing less to the already rising pollution levels and its direct health implications are some of the secondary benefits behind the green building plan.
A specific study has lead to prove that the healthy buildings directly improve the working efficiencies of employees, help recouping of patients faster, helps students perform better specially with their cognitive skill developments etc. which are intangible benefits bringing in brand improvement and cost benefits indirectly.
Green Buildings: An urgent requirement!
To design buildings in a holistic way requires taking into account various aspects in a holistic manner:
- Site planning
- Building envelop design
- Building system design (HVAC, Lighting, Electrical, Water Heating)
- Water & Waste management
- Selection of ecofriendly sustainable materials (promoting local materials)
- Indoor Environmental qualities (thermal, Visual & Air Quality)
- Promote innovation in building design, construction, maintenance and awareness among stakeholders along with encouraging new and evolving technologies.
- Enhancing integration to local environment & in social context.
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- ECBC Compliance