Today’s green buildings make use of a number of features and sustainable building design elements which work to improve overall energy efficiency. Green design elements are not only a functional way to lower a building’s energy use, but can also be integrated as a design focal point or a way to reduce construction costs. Below are a few unique sustainable building design elements and the benefits they offer.
Rooftop Gardens (Green Roofs)
A green roof is a feature used in sustainable building design which uses vegetation as a roof covering. A layer of grass can be used, or an intensive green roof can be created, providing options for a more conventional park environment which can be utilized by building occupants. Using green roofing in sustainable building design offers many benefits, ranging from energy efficiency to improving air quality.
- Green roofs reduce energy usage by absorbing heat and insulating the building. With the sun beating down on the roof daily, greater insulation works to prevent heat gain and reduce a building’s heating and cooling loads.
- By lowering the building’s demand for heating and cooling, green roofs can also lower emissions and improve air quality. Vegetation on the building’s roof can actually store carbon rather than releasing it into the air.
A great deal of energy can be used operating a building’s ventilation and air quality improvement systems in traditional design. Sustainable building design often incorporates open air elements which can improve indoor air quality naturally. Open air areas also allow for the use of natural light for daily operations.
- Open air improves a space’s air quality by taking advantage of natural ventilation, instead of mechanical ventilation systems, which reduces a building’s energy use and dependency on these systems.
- The natural light provided by open air sustainable building design elements allows occupants to cut back on the amount of artificial light required for work activities, further reducing the building’s energy use.
Recycled Building Materials
Incorporating recycled building materials in sustainable building design is a practical way to green the design of a facility. In most cases, recycled building materials look just like brand new materials and won’t detract from the aesthetics of a building. The benefits of using recycled building materials range from budgetary to environmental.
- Using recycled and reclaimed building materials eliminates the need to produce new building materials for a project. Producing new materials contributes to added gas emissions and the overall environmental impact of a facility.
- Recycled and reclaimed building materials are often less costly, which can reduce the expenses of constructing a facility.