May 1, 2023

What is a Green Building?

A green building focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use – energy, water, and materials – while reducing building impact on human health and the environment. This is measured throughout the building’s lifecycle, through better positioning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal. Green buildings should be designed and operated to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on its surroundings.

Green buildings are expensive to construct, design, and maintain. Most green technology cost more to implement. Sustainable raw materials and design time are the two causes for the increased cost of green building construction.

However, by using modern techniques and integrated designs, the total cost of a building can be reduced to match the price of a traditional building, or sometimes even lower. Some designs may have a slightly higher initial cost, but the life cycle and payback cost savings of the building compensate for that over time.

The materials selected are very important for the construction of a green building. Alternative materials can be used and they should be selected based on resource efficiency, indoor air quality, efficient usage of energy, water conservation and economic costs. Multiple holistic methods can be used in constructing green buildings to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the building.

Trending Technologies in Green Buildings

The trending technologies transforming the way we construct and live are:

  • Energy Efficient Window Systems

Windows are responsible for 25 percent of the heat gain and loss in a building, typically from heat flow through window panes and around poorly sealed frames. Energy efficient windows provide glazing in the form of double panes and triple panes that are designed to inhibit the flow of heat. These types of windows have two or three panes with argon gas in between that stop heat from leaving or entering a space. This, combined with a tightly sealed frame, significantly improves building insulation and prevent heat losses and gains.

  • Electrochromic Glass

Also known as smart glass, electrochromic glass uses a tiny gust of electricity to charge ions on a window layer and alter the amount of light it reflects. Unlike the already present low-emittance windows, which block some solar radiation, electrochromic glass allows just the right amount of light through.

Smart glass continues to become better suited for commercial use. For example, skyscrapers of the future will likely have windows that tint automatically during the daytime and become transparent at night. Proponents of the electrochromic glass say the technology could reduce a 25 percent reduction in a building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning costs.

  • Cool Roof System

A cool roof is a rooftop designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. Under the summer sun, dark shingle roofs can reach temperatures up to 65 degrees Celsius. This puts a strain on air conditioning systems, thus raising energy consumption and carbon emissions.

The solar reflectance and decreased thermal emittance of a cool roof can lower the interior temperature. Cool roof systems can also lower the heat island effect of urban and suburban areas.

  • Zero-Energy Buildings

Zero-energy buildings are designed to produce electricity through renewable energy, thus eliminating the need to connect to the standard electric grid. A zero-energy building consumes zero net energy per year and produces no carbon emission since it relies on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

Construction of zero-energy buildings is being incentivised by developed nation governments that offer subsidies for the construction of zero-energy buildings. For example, in the U.S., the government offers a Solar Investment tax credit of 30 percent off the total system cost, while California provides additional money back for consumers who opt for renewable energy.

  • Geothermal Systems

Geothermal systems are one of the best ways to efficiently heat or cool a building with a renewable source. It uses the natural cool temperatures below ground to cool water in pipes and then runs it through chilled water coils.

This system can also be used for heating by a similar process. The water running in the closed loop absorbs heat from the ground and releases it to a heat pump, which in turn, provides warm air to the building. It can also be used to warm radiant floors and for domestic hot water heating.

  • Radiant Floors

Radiant floors are an excellent way to efficiently heat a space with less energy. Radiant floors can use electrical tubing in concrete floors, which conduct heat that is transmitted to occupants from the ground. They can also contain piping to deliver warm water heated by solar panels. This system heats the indoor environment faster than traditional HVAC systems, where the heat transfer and heat loss are much greater.

  • Green Infrastructure

Runoff from stormwater is a significant cause of water pollution, particularly in urban areas. It can cause flooding in streets and buildings, which leads to dangerous driving conditions, causes substantial property damage, and carries trash, bacteria, heavy metals, and other pollutants through storm sewers into local waterways.

Green infrastructure filters and absorbs stormwater where it falls. Many communities are increasingly installing green infrastructure systems to bolster their capacity to manage stormwater to meet this challenge. By doing so, communities are becoming more resilient and achieving environmental, social, and economic benefits. Green infrastructure involves landscaping and designing systems dedicated to managing stormwater through plants and soil in urban areas to control stormwater absorption.

By encouraging the growth of plants in urban areas, green infrastructure helps lower the heat-island effect produced by heat-absorbing pavements and metallic street furniture. Plants also improve air quality in urban areas by absorbing carbon dioxide.


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I. (2021, August 1). What is Green Building Technology? Plus: The Top 5 Green Tech Trends Transforming Facility Management Right Now!

Tidd, M. (2022, September 26). 5 Examples of Green Building in Engineering. VIP.

Upper Route Planner. (2023, February 1). What is Green Technology Construction (Types & Benefits) – Guide 2023.

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