Research Paper: Green Architecture Green Schools

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Green Architecture/Green Schools

What is Green Architecture?

Green architecture -- also known as sustainable development, eco-design, eco-friendly architecture, earth-friendly architecture, environmental architecture, natural architecture -- is a sustainable method of green building design: it is design and construction with the environment in mind (Craven).

Green architects generally work with the key concepts of creating an energy efficient, environmentally friendly house. Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The natural ecology of the planet should be the macro model for architects to use as a model for a green building. Architecture can model itself on the planetary system to copy the natural 'green' environment, making a new building, or adapting an existing building, both environmentally friendly, in terms of materials used and the space it occupies, and energy efficient, including solar technology (What is Green Architecture).

It minimizes harmful effects on human health and the environment. The "green" architect or designer attempts to safeguard air, water, and earth by choosing eco-friendly building materials and construction practices (Craven).

Green architecture may have many of these characteristics: ventilation systems designed for efficient heating and cooling, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, landscapes planned to maximize passive solar energy, minimal harm to the natural habitat, alternate power sources such as solar power or wind power, non-synthetic, non-toxic materials, locally-obtained woods and stone, and responsibly-harvested woods (Craven). Also important is adaptive re-use of old buildings that have outlived their original purposes. Adaptive reuse, or re-use, is a process that adapts buildings for new uses while retaining their historic features.

Use of recycled architectural salvage is another characteristic of green architecture. Architectural salvage consists of building parts salvaged from demolished or remodeled structures. Finally, as one might guess, a building that is "green" must be designed with the most efficient use of space.

Most buildings that are considered "green" probably do not have all the characteristics we have listed. However, above all, the goal of green architecture is sustainability.

The Disadvantages of Green Architecture

First it may be difficult to find a construction company that wants to build green. The housing industry has been building homes a certain way for a very long time, and they are relatively risk adverse. The "cookie-cutter" type homes are easy to build, the sources for the materials are known and usually inexpensive because of the types of material and the large orders developers can ask for. It may be the "fear of the unknown," but it is also fact. Trying a new brand of paint because it is healthier, is not their thing. And the building industry is very powerful with a lot of influence in the right places, so they feel they can hold their own with the styles of homes they build.

Some other "disadvantages" that must be thought through before going green are: Adding natural daylight brings in more light and more glare. You'll need to control the light with shades or overhangs. Adding a green roof adds weight, and you may need to beef up the strength of your roof to support this weight. Certain green finishes may need to be special-ordered and may have longer delivery times. Plan ahead for these potential delays. Orienting your home to the sun may mean turning the house in a different direction from that of the neighboring homes. Your neighbors may complain. Water-saving features, such as dual-flush toilets, require guests to pay attention to how they flush the toilet. and, using natural ventilation to cool your home will not be as precise as air-conditioning. It may take some time before you acclimate to not having the thermometer set to the exact temperature you like (Freed).

The main disadvantage of green architecture, as we mentioned, is that it may not take into account "regional sustainability" which is defined by Wackernagel and Yount, in their paper "The Ecological Footprint," as "the continuous support of human quality of life within a region's ecological carrying capacity" a building can exhibit many "green" features but be part of an overall development plan which is unsustainable in regards to transportation, water/waste systems, trash or food (Hossfeld).

As an example, a recreation center in Boulder, Colorado was awarded a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design program (LEED) certification because it employed the use of car chargers in its facility. The discrepancy was that the area that the recreation center was located in did not contain any electric cars to utilize it; therefore, making the LEED certification worthless (Ancheta).

By the way, a major qualm with the LEED certification process is that it does not review the surrounding environment that the building inhabits. It is now known that this particular recreation center is actually wasting money by applying a green aspect to the building but does not utilize it (Ancheta).

With this faulty judging in place, millions of dollars could be wasted by future organizations that employ the same loose practices.

How Can the Negatives Be Solved?

What is important is that they can be solved. But it will take time and massive amounts of ingenuity.

As we have seen, regional sustainability is the most significant problem. In many cases, surrounding areas are not being investigated and so a green building may go in an area where it can't take advantage of its "greenness." And the LEED certification is flawed and does not look at the surrounding environment.

We can use the e-waste problem as an example of "trouble" with regional sustainability. Electrical Waste (E-waste) is a term used to cover almost all types of electrical and electronic equipment that has or could enter the waste stream. Although e-waste is a general term, it can be often considered to cover TV's, computers, mobile phones, white goods (fridges, washing machines, dryers etc.), home entertainment and stereo systems, toys, toasters, kettles -- almost any household or business item with circuitry or electrical components with power or battery supply (Solving the E-Waste Problem).

E-waste is growing exponentially simply because the market in which these products are produced is also growing rapidly as many parts of the world cross the so called 'digital divide'.

E-Waste cannot be handled like normal trash is dealt with. Electrical waste contains hazardous but also valuable and scarce materials. Up to 60 elements from the periodic table can be found in complex electronics. Electrical goods contain a range of other toxic substances such as lead, beryllium, brominated flame retardants and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) to name a few. Because of this complex composition of valuable and hazardous substances, specialized, often "high tech" methods are required to process e-waste in ways that maximize resource recovery and minimize potential harm to humans or the environment (Solving the E-Waste Problem).

Recycling in these instances usually focuses on a few valuable elements like gold and copper (with often poor recycling yields), while most other metals are discarded and inevitably lost. So resource efficiency is another important dimension in the e-waste discussion besides ecological, human security, economical and social aspects.

Just how big of a problem is this? How much e-waste is there? Recycling in these instances usually focuses on a few valuable elements like gold and copper (with often poor recycling yields), while most other metals are discarded and inevitably lost. So resource efficiency is another important dimension in the e-waste discussion besides ecological, human security, economical and social aspects. Reasonable estimates are in the order of 40 million tons, which is enough to fill a line of dump-trucks stretching half way around the globe -- and accumulating more each day at an alarming rate (Solving the E-Waste Problem).

So, we know the problem. Do we have a solution? We don't even know where all the e-waste is! We do know that large amounts end up in places where processing occurs at a very rudimentary level. This raises concerns about resource efficiency and the immediate concerns of the dangers to humans and the environment.

We don't really have a solution for this problem or many others. but, by engaging with various stakeholders and relevant scientific wisdom within this chain of events, we could be on the way to "Solve the E-waste Problem' (StEP), as well as our "green" transportation, water, trash and food problems.

Yes, negatives can be solved. but, right now, we don't have any solutions to many of them.

Regional sustainability must be solved in order that any size area, and not just individual buildings, can be considered green.

How Does Green Architecture Improve Buildings and Structures?

Green buildings are sited, designed, constructed and operated to enhance the well-being of occupants, and to minimize negative impacts on the community and natural environment. Traditionally constructed buildings consume 40% of the world's total energy, 25% of its wood harvest and 16% of its water. Compared to traditional construction, a green built home takes some of this pressure off the environment (Rabin).

Perhaps the best justification of green building is how you cannot afford to not employ green… [END OF PREVIEW]

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