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Green buildings

Mar 22,2023 - Last updated at Mar 22,2023

Green buildings is a term that is relatively new, yet research over it has been accelerating in the past twenty years, as uncovered by Assadiki and others who published in 2022 their findings in the well-known Sustainability Journal. The research reveals that the number of publications over the title of green buildings has increased from two papers in 2006 to 25 per year in 2021, which reflects the escalating interest in the subject. So what are Green buildings?

Green buildings are structures that are designed, built, operated and maintained in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. These buildings are designed to minimise its environmental impact by reducing energy consumption and thus reducing emissions of green house gases and the consequent impact on global warming. They are also designed to be aesthetically in harmony with its surroundings, durable for as long as possible, providing healthy internal air quality, earthquake and fierce weather resistance, conserving water, reusing consumed water, using local materials, as well as recycling and minimising waste. In general, green buildings incorporate a wide range of sustainable features, such as:

Natural lighting and a suitable window area to floor ratio, choosing the most suitable building orientation according to the climatic conditions prevailing in that location, using energy-efficient lighting such as LED bulbs and using efficient heating and cooling systems, as well as efficient energy labelمed appliances. 

Efficient thermal insulation should be installed efficiently in green buildings for roofs, floors and walls, according to the building codes of practice, however, the mandatory minimum required by the codes ought to be increased to get a greener building and reduce emissions further. A corresponding water proofing layer on the external envelope is also essential. 

Windows are an essential element in green building design, in terms of shape, size chosen according to structure different elevations, its area ratio to exterior walls, mode of fixture to the wall, opening style (sliding or else) or fixed, as well as using a canopy shading that allows for full window shade in summer and adversely allows for the sun to heat up the interior spaces in winter. Glass used is also a determinant factor in green buildings as double and triple glazing matter significantly in the overall thermal quality, as in thermal conductivity, and what matters also is the quality of glass, as in colour, shading coefficient, ultra violet block, low-emissivity glass and else. 

A good air ventilation system is also necessary in green buildings to raise the internal air quality, control ambient temperature within the comfort zone, and controlling gases, such as carbon dioxide, mono oxide, volatile organic materials and humidity within acceptable limits. However, most existing buildings in Jordan experience changing its interior air bulk once every hour, therefore the rate of air exchange in green buildings should be controlled by the quality of windows as not to lose much heat in winter or gain much heat from outside in summer, yet it is vital taking into consideration the possibility of condensation in buildings that propagate fungus growth, especially in kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms.

Once energy efficiency, passive architectural design and thermal insulation is achieved, renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines can be introduced to produce clean electricity and heat up water in order to reduce the carbon print of the green building. Solar thermal units can also be used to back up the heating system in winter.

Use of sustainable and local building materials and practices are recommended as much as possible, as well as evaluating the carbon intensity when choosing any building material. For example, manufacturing one kilogramme of aluminum produces carbon emissions more than double that of plastic, and as much as 10 times more than that of fiber.

Another issue is waste reduction, segregation, recycling and management programmes as it is also important in green buildings, and so is water efficiency, rain water catchment and using water-saving fixtures and technologies, including encouraging grey water reuse in irrigation and waste water treatment.

In general, the goal of green buildings is to create healthier and more sustainable living and working environments while reducing the negative impact on the environment. Green buildings can also provide financial benefits, such as lower operating costs and increased property values. Some research has even proven that some green buildings can cost less than traditional building due to the reduced material weight and the reduced cost of heating and cooling loads.

Finally, encouraging the construction of green buildings in rural areas, by introducing incentives, for example, can improve the health and wellbeing of the under privileged in the rural areas and hence reduce the influx of immigrants to the main cities that are already overpopulated.

 

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