According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, buildings are responsible for 39% of total energy use, 68% of total electricity consumption, 12% of total water consumption, 30% of landfill waste, and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions. In light of these statistics, some architects have put forth a greener approach to constructing buildings.
Based on the EPA’s calculations, the consistent development of urban communities has a detrimental impact on our natural environment. The buildings we live, work, entertain, or learn in, are responsible for the consumption and depletion of our several natural resources.
As living standards cannot compete with consumption at such a rapid pace, architects have implemented what is known as green urban architecture. In urban spaces, this newer practice is a green approach to building - it reduces the damaging and wasteful effects of construction on the environment. The green urban architecture initiative is also responsible for introducing what is known as the “green” architect: a professional who safeguards water and air, chooses eco-friendly materials, and minimizes harmful construction.
Benefits of Green Urban Architecture
The benefits that result from green urban architecture go beyond its environmental improvement. Following eco-friendly construction and design can also stimulate economic and social welfare.
In addition to the conservation and restoration of natural resources, reduced waste, improved air and water quality, and protection of ecosystems, green urban architecture also proves to be economically sound. These greener practices can ensure lower operating costs, an increase in asset value and profits, and improve life-cycle economic performance. The social benefits are a less direct but equally important benefit of green urban architecture. These building practices are meant to expect improved occupant health, better indoor air quality, and present significantly smaller strains on community utilities and infrastructure.
Characteristics of Green Urban Architecture
The ultimate aim of green urban architecture is to reach optimal or complete sustainability - eco-friendly buildings are not only built sustainably but are meant to operate sustainably as well.
Some features that can distinguish green architecture and its eco-friendly characteristics are water preserving plumbing, energy-efficient appliances, native vegetation, solar power/wind power/renewable energy sources, non-synthetic materials, non-toxic materials, responsible land reformation, and rainwater harvesting. Simpler and easily identifiable practices include: creating dynamic and versatile spaces, sourcing local materials, and recycling products from older buildings in new builds and renovations. Additionally, long distance travel is minimized with the use of local products and services.
Green Urban Architecture in 2019
According to the American Institute of Architects, the top ten green urban architecture buildings of 2019 include the following: Amherst College Science Center (Amherst, Masachusettes, USA), Frick Environmental Center (Pennsylvania, USA), Asilong Christian High School (West Pokot, Kenya), Daniels Building at One Spadina Crescent (Toronto, Canada), Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (Boston, Masachusettes, USA), Lakeside Senior Apartments (Oakland, California, USA), North Transfer Station (Seattle, Washington, USA), Oregon Zoo Education Center (Portland, Oregon, USA), St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York City, New York, USA), and the Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA).
These ten green buildings were the recipients of the Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Awards. Every year the Committee on the Environment awards ten projects that have mastered both design and eco-friendly performance. Each of these buildings abide to and perfect the Committee on the Environment’s standard of social, economic, and ecological values; these buildings are said to stand as sustainable designs that function healthily and optimally within a respected community.
Although planet earth can live beyond climate change, humans cannot. As resource depletion has been and is becoming an exceptionally pressing issue, green architects are finding new ways to create sustainable places of living, working, and entertainment. At no sacrifice to human lifestyles, green urban architecture prioritizes environment sensibility with renewable energy sources and recycled materials.
Green urban architecture provides a way for cities to expand without the harmful threats of current construction and design methods. As a green architectural practice, green urban design seeks to enable the most productive, expansive, efficient, and eco-friendly approach to prosperous city spaces.
References and Further Reading
Gardens in the Sky: the Rise of Green Urban Architecture - Architecture lab
Five 'Green' Urban Design Innovations Shaping Our City - Architecture and design
Sustainable Urban Development - American Society of Landscape Architects
Top 10 Green Buildings of 2017- National Geographic
Green Buildings Could Save Our Cities - National Geographic
Importance of Green Building - Green Building Alliance
Top 10 Green Buildings - BDC Network