What is sustainable building design?
Sustainable design in the construction of new or renovation of old buildings is the maximum optimization of several basic criteria. The ultimate goal is to significantly reduce the environmental footprint that is generated at each stage of the life of buildings - construction, operation, demolition.
The construction of "green" buildings may sound like another ecological cliché. In reality, however, it turns out that it can play an important role in reducing the environmental footprint of human activity. Additional benefits from "green" construction include improved living conditions for these structures and significantly reduced operating costs. Before we look in more detail at the benefits of investing in environmentally friendly construction, let's look at the disadvantages and losses of standard construction. What are the main damages, their size and the stages at which they occur.
How do construction activities affect the environment?
Contrary to popular belief, the damage from construction is not limited to the process of production of construction materials and their use in the site. The final product, namely the finished building, is of great importance for the size of the environmental footprint.
One example of this is the use of hard-to-recycle materials. Their choice has a short-term negative effect. In contrast, however, the choice of heating and air conditioning system can have a negative environmental and financial effect throughout the period of operation.
The following lines will list the most common damages caused directly by the building stock in the world.
Energy consumption, related to the operation of buildings, represents about 40% of total consumption worldwide.
В САЩ този процент достига впечатляващите 48%, което е почти половината от общата консумирана енергия.
Generated greenhouse gases
Construction and repairs worldwide generate 17% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
During the operation of the buildings about 30% are released.
According to statistics of U.S. Green Building Council, almost 40% of CO2 emissions in the United States are directly related to the construction sector.
The low price of this resource, where it is still freely available, allows for unnecessarily large consumption. On average, about 14% of water consumption occurs in buildings. The losses on the water supply network in the developed countries are about 12%, and in our country this value is between 50 and 70%.
Used building materials
Modern materials used in construction have a serious environmental impact. Many of them are difficult to recycle or not reusable at all. The extraction of the huge volumes of raw materials needed for production, processing and logistics over long distances make this process one of the biggest polluters today. According to U.S. Green Building Council, about 40% of the extracted raw materials are for the needs of the construction industry.
Waste products and demolition of old buildings
Demolition and repair activities have a significant share in the waste generated by human activity. They are rarely sorted and recycled. According to Eurostat statistics, 35% of waste is due to activities in the construction sector.
In Bulgaria, this process should be regulated by the "Ordinance on construction waste management and use of recycled construction materials", in force since 2012.
Benefits of "green" construction
LEED / Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design / is the most widespread system for assessment and certification of "green" buildings. From there, they provide visual statistics on the benefits and profitability of such an investment.
Obtaining a certificate under this system guarantees accordingly:
–25% less energy consumption
–11% lower water consumption
–19% less maintenance
–34% less greenhouse gas emissions
–27% higher rating of buildings, according to their occupants. This criterion covers not only the subjective feeling of higher comfort, but also reduces the likelihood of sick building syndrome, responsible for lower working capacity and hospitalization of employees.
-generate significantly less non-recyclable waste
-total costs are reduced by from 9 to 13%
-the value of the building, after reaching the certification criteria, increases by about 4%
-the investment is paid within 7 years
Platform to easily search for information on green development
Author: Dr. Eng. Teodor Todorov