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5 Design Elements To Follow For Environmentally-Conscious Architecture

Let us look at some of the elements of design and materials that help create an environmentally conscious structure:

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Studies have shown that sustainability has been at the forefront of building structure and design for years. As consumers become more vigilant of climate change and environmental issues, developers continue to push for better-quality green building strategies that will help lessen the carbon footprint.

The green structural design demands the use of low impacting materials to craft a complete structure that's energy-efficient and environment-friendly. Green buildings can differ from simple structures made from natural resources to more technically focused designs using elements like solar panels, non-toxic paint, natural plaster, reclaimed wood, and recycled glass to reduce the structure's impact.

Unlike conservative architecture, part of planning a green building is ensuring minimal impact thus involving use of environmental friendly building materials at the same time taking into consideration the valuable resources like water, indoor air quality, and energy conservation.

Green buildings have a plethora of benefits for its residents and developers alike, be it environmental, economic and social benefits. Green buildings are designed to make the best use of natural resources making it friendlier to the environment compared to a normal construction. Economically benefits result in minimal use of resources like energy and water, lower costs ensures increasein the value of the property. 

Additionally, green architecture also offers health benefits because of the safety of materials used in the construction of these structures. For example, eco-friendly construction companies avoid using plastic by-products that release toxic material substances that are not only carcinogenic but are responsible for breathing difficulties and increase the odds of developing cancer. Green buildings also reduce strain on local resources. 

For developers, eco-friendly structures result in a reduction in construction costs. As infrastructure laws around the country become stricter, efficient supply chains for green materials and modern technologies are ensuring the industry gets more skilled at delivering green buildings. Green buildings help save money through reduced energy and water intake; it also helps lower the long-term operations and maintenance costs. Sustainability hazard can significantly affect the rental income along with the future value of the real estate assets which in turn, affects the return on investment. By creating green structures, the industry and consumers benefit on a large scale and helps mitigate climate change, aids job creation, energy security and resource conservation, long term resilience improving quality of life.

Let us look at some of the elements of design and materials that help create an environmentally conscious structure:

Green roofs

A green roof helps in lowering the temperature of the house and improves air quality. Additionally, green roofs help in adding green spaces in urban areas which can offer a nesting area for birds. There are two distinct kinds of green roofs: Intensive and Extensive. While an intensive green roof is high-maintenance and requires more soil depth, an extensive green roof is low maintenance and uses less soil. Intensive green roofs are expensive and require less sloping surface. They are more commonly used in commercial buildings and can support a wide variety of trees and plants; while extensive green roofs can support sedums, moss, herbs and grasses and other vegetation where low or no maintenance is required.


Commonly known for its nutritional value, bamboo is being used by architects as it is a viable material. Two times stronger than steel, it can grow by up to four feet per day, which makes it a highly sustainable piece of material. The most important quality of bamboo is its environmentally friendly quality - absorbing 35% more carbon dioxide than regular trees and releasing the same amount of oxygen in its growing stage.

Fly ash bricks

The use of green building products such as fly ash bricks and gypsum plaster is gaining popularity. Fly ash bricks carry high widespread strength and provide better thermal insulation than red clay bricks. Fly ash bricks are not only environment-friendly but are more affordable. Also, Gypsum is a readily available material as opposed to natural sand. It has many benefits such as high productivity, zero curing time, high performance and smooth finish.

Recyclable material

There are now green substitutes available for almost every standard building material, from rubber to concrete to wood to finishes. Due to their resource efficiency, recycled elements are used in green architecture. Some of these elements include paper insulation from recycled cardboard and newspapers which can be used in building exterior to fill cavity walls during construction. It is created by using boric acid, borax and calcium carbonate all of which form naturally occurring minerals. Cotton insulation made from recycled denim is high-performance insulation made from scraps and clippings from the manufacturer of denim clothing. Both the insulations are fire retardant, insect resistant and free of chemicals. These elements use less energy and fewer chemicals to process. 

Solar shingles

Even though solar panels are a great way to save energy and reduce bills, they can be a little harsh on the eyes from the design perspective. This is where solar shingles come in. Solar shingles integrate into the roof itself, unlike solar panels which are laid on top of the roof. Being the roof shingles, solar shingles are a little expensive as they help power an entire building. Solar shingles are used with the remaining power grid to guarantee that the home is powered even in the absence of the sun. It can generate up to 30-50% of the household electrical needs with unrestricted, pollution-free electricity. Solar power shingles are a venture that will pay for themselves in energy savings over a course of a few years. It transforms about 20-30% of the solar energy into electricity which lessens the amount of heat penetrating through the roof.

There are two different kinds of solar shingles available in the market: Silicon-based and thin-film. Although silicon-based shingles cost a little more, they tend to produce more energy per square foot than thin-film shingles.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
environmental concerns design

José Braganza

The author is Joint MD, B&F Ventures

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