Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the evolution of the green building sector has actually entailed moving back to traditional, ancient and simple practices.
In the first stages of the green building boom, a huge focus was placed on renewable energy and the opportunities this brought to buildings looking to maintain their level of energy use through a sustainable practice. This also had the upside of creating a ‘green aesthetic’ of sorts, which at the time meant visible solar panels or rooftop wind turbines.
Now, however, with the industry learning that the performance of a green building is maximised by combining green elements in a holistic manner, simply tacking on such green technologies post-development is no longer deemed the pinnacle of green practice.
Architects and designers are even further reducing the carbon footprint of their buildings by following passive solar design principles and other such means that enable the development of buildings with little or reliance on certain energy modes.
Green insulation is now spreading throughout the world, with landscape architects from all corners of the globe reveling in the newly-extended realm.
Green roofs are becoming more and more commonplace atop modern buildings. Now that the global industry is looking to evolve the industry into one that has far higher green standards – with net-zero carbon buildings becoming the green benchmark in many countries worldwide – this practice now has a chance to flourish.
In terms of function, green roofs are the world’s only completely organic and sustainable live insulation systems. The greenery protects buildings from added solar gain by both shading and insulating it, drastically lowering internal temperatures in summer and maintaining heat loads in winter. This often allows those who implement green roofs to go completely off-grid in terms of heating and cooling needs, which braings about drastic carbon and cost cutting.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, the addition of these green spaces can also help to reduce urban heat overall, cooling the air and filtering a number of pollutants.
Aesthetically, green roofs are as variable and unique as any design construct. Decisions on design and the types of plants included are often left completely in the hands of the landscape architect and, generally speaking, buildings are given an aesthetic boost from their original form post-implementations. Green roofs also offer added community space, offering to nurture social activity and interaction in workplaces, community centres, residential buildings and other facilities.
Green roofs are not a new concept but the industry’s understanding and acceptance of their dramatic impact and utility is growing. Covering the three tenets of holistically sustainable design in terms of their positive effects on the environment, society and economy, it is clear why their popularity is booming.