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Green Architecture Research Paper

Essay by   •  September 21, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  2,313 Words (10 Pages)  •  1,203 Views

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Arcology

Green architecture is a broad term framed by the larger discussion of sustainability. Today the concept of sustainability has become increasingly significant in our modern society. Society is pushing for more sustainable, "greener" options. This is partly because of society's growing concern for the environment and in part just plain consumerism. Consumerism aside, one of the positive aspects that this "green" movement is bringing about is green architecture. What is green architecture? Also known as sustainable design, green architecture is an approach to building that minimizes harmful effects on human health and the environment (Johansson 251). The "green" architect or designer attempts to safeguard air, water, and earth by choosing eco-friendly building materials and construction practices that work with nature (Johansson 251). Switching to green architecture in tune with nature and using sustainable building materials would reduce harmful environmental pollution by conserving energy and reducing waste.

By definition, the idea of green architecture sounds like an unrealistic, hippie idea with people living in trees and such. But the fact is, there are real private and commercial buildings being constructed today which are doing just what the definition suggests. People do not have to live in trees in order to live in ecologically designed houses, although that would be optimal. Realistically speaking, the major characteristics of a sustainably designed home would go from ventilation systems designed for efficient heating and cooling, integration of vegetation in built environment, to efficient use of space, according to the article entitled "BLUEPRINT FOR A NEW UTOPIA". This article is as real as it gets. The article discusses an initiative of the Chinese and Singaporean government to construct a city based on sustainable architecture in Beijing, China. Other characteristics of a green home according to the article are energy-efficient lighting and appliances, water-saving plumbing fixtures, landscapes planned to maximize passive solar energy, minimize harm to natural habitat, alternative power sources (solar and wind), non-synthetic, non-toxic materials, as well as using recycled architectural salvage. All of which are characteristics that help minimize pollution by conserving energy and reducing waste at a private and commercial level (Grogan 47). As a result, green architecture has become more popular in the last 25 to 30 years according to the article entitled "Effects of a Green Space Layout on the outdoor Thermal Environment at the Neighborhood Level".

This article published in an academic journal describes a study conducted in 2012 to address the existing urban design needs for an optimal green space layout using computer-aided thermal engineering to obtain an acceptable thermal environment at the neighborhood scale (Lai Chi-Ming et al. 3723). In other words, the study was conducted to examine the way a home's design is a determinant in the way a homes temperature and therefore energy usage fluctuates according to the different seasons. According to the study, an optimal home design would greatly reduce energy consumption. Home designs vary according to the orientation of the house if the house is being modified, and as well as the location of the building (Lai Chi-Ming et al. 3723). Location is a very important factor when determining the design of a house. Whether the design is to modify an existing building or plan a new one, the location is of the outmost importance (Lai Chi-Ming et al. 3729). As some places have cooler year round temperatures and others, such as in Las Vegas, have much hotter temperatures. The design should take all of these factors into consideration according to the study. An example of efficient home design in a desert environment such as Las Vegas is described in the article entitled "The Dome in the Desert by Wendell Burnette". The author of the article is Wendell Burnette, a renowned architect and CEO or Senior Principal in architectural terms, of Wendell Burnette Architects, an Arizona based architecture firm that focuses on environmental design. In the article, he analyses a building by internationally acclaimed architect Paolo Soleri, an Italian architect known for environmentally conscious designs. Dr. Soleri apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940's where he developed a philosophy called "arcology", or architecture coupled with ecology, which was an early form of the contemporary idea of green design (Burnette). His building "the dome" is located in the hot Arizona desert and is described by the article, "as a solution to the problems of desert living whose appropriateness is still not recognized" (Burnette). The problem with desert living, as Las Vegas residents know, is the heat. During the hottest days of the summer, high temperatures instigate high water usage and high-energy consumption. In the dome, both energy usage and water consumption are significantly reduced just from its design (Burnette). The building's exterior as visible from figure 1 is covered in glass and has a retractable metal shade in a dome like shape, hence the name (Shulman Fig. 1). The design is meant to resemble a cave. In fact, everything but the main living room and master bedroom are literally underground as visible from figure 1 as well (Shulman Fig. 1). Because living underground is the best way to keep cool in extreme heat according to the author. Windows and sunroofs are designed so that sunlight naturally heats indoor space for natural heating in the winter, and metal shades are added to prevent the same effect in the summer (Burnette). The building's design also integrates vegetation on to about ninety percent of the structure (Burnette). Besides the dome exterior, everything is fully vegetated through a technique called "green roofing," which provides natural insulation and rainwater management (Perini, and Magliocco 79). In conclusion, Soleri's dome is testament to the way an optimal green space layout can make a building sustainable. The downside is that optimally designed buildings are built after being thoroughly designed from the ground up, therefore homes already built can be modified but only to a certain extent (Lai Chi-Ming et al. 3725). Some examples of ways in which a home can be optimally modified would be by using new technologies, such as double layered windows for insulation, sources of renewable energy (solar) on roof of building as to follow the suns trajectory, adding trees and vegetation in areas were the sun hits, to strategically placing shades and sunroofs (Lai Chi-Ming et al. 3726).

The next major characteristic of a green home mentioned in Paolo Soleri's dome, and in the

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