The green building industry has progressed to such a point that multiple elements within the industry are now widely recognised. A differentiation can now be seen between areas of standard green building, sustainable building and energy efficient practices.
However, what is often being overlooked in the hype surrounding the ‘green’ movement are the basics of Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD).
Exemplifying green passive design and development practices ESD aims, at its most basic root, to reduce the environmental impacts of the built world. This differs quite noticeably from energy efficiency, which is arguably as much an economic movement as it is environmental to some, in the way in which it aims to decrease reliance on energy in order to reduce carbon output and associated costs.
One strong benefit of ESD is that carbon emissions are reduced or eliminated altogether as a result of incorporated practices. That is, however, not the basis of the practice itself.
In an extract from UNEP’s ‘Buildings and Climate Change – Summary for Decision-Makers’, this kind of industry practice is the only true way for a built environment to reduce its long term negative effects on the natural world.
“The world’s governments can successfully tackle climate change by harnessing the capacity of the building sector to significantly reduce GHG emissions,” reads the report. “Doing so can create jobs, save money – and most importantly, shape a built environment that is a net positive environmental influence – not simply a ‘less-bad’ version of what we currently have.”
ESD tackles these issues at, as the name would suggest, the design stage, thus often eliminating the need for carbon offsetting features, such as green energy generators.
For instance, using considered passive solar design to develop a building that is naturally climate controlled will eliminate the need for any kind of energy – green or otherwise – to power heating and cooling. That is roughly 40 per cent of the average home’s energy use completely eliminated simply due to considered design.
The construction industry has become educated enough and progressed far enough in the green building sector that a basic half-hearted carbon reduction scheme should no longer be the standard practice.
Holistic sustainability is the best way to ensure a thorough and cutting edge green sector. While that does not mean ESD must be the last word on the matter, but it certainly means these principles should become a green building foundation for any truly environmentally responsible development.