What is Green Architecture?

Green architecture is sustainable architecture. It is all about incorporating earth-friendly materials, natural ventilation, and more natural daylight into the buildings we live, work, and play in. Taking a holistic approach to social responsibility, green architecture contributes a fair share of effort towards mitigating climate change and environmental damages that are plaguing our planet.

Consciously designed to minimize negative environmental impacts, green architecture champions the principles of moderation and efficiency in energy and resource use, building materials, footprint as well as cubic space, and even the effects and impacts on the natural ecosystem in which a building resides.

Considered one of the top gurus in green architecture, Jason F. McLennan is a Canadian designer specializing in sustainable design.

McLennan’s 2004 book, The Philosophy of Sustainable Design: The future of architecture, offers a great rundown of the principles at play in green architecture, including:

  • Allow for seasonal and day/night variations in lighting and thermal conditions
  • Reconnect people to the external environment through views and daylight
  • Give control back to people for thermal comfort, ventilation, and lighting
  • Use daylight as the primary ambient light source when available
  • Use healthy, durable materials that require little maintenance
  • Use passive strategies such as natural ventilation and passive solar for thermal comfort where possible.
  • Invest in art and design to create beautiful environments
  • Focus on acoustical comfort tied to task being performed
  • Allow for views and access to a range of visual experiences
  • Require regular maintenance to keep the building performing well
  • Closely monitor and regulate indoor air quality
  • Allow for personalization of spaces
  • Emphasize good ergonomics
  • Reduce environmental impact and waste
  • Be designed around the notion of biophilia and allow access to life and life-like processes throughout the interaction with the building.

Examples of Green Architecture in Action

Offering an excellent array of examples, Autodesk’s Redshift* puts a finger on the pulse of green architecture in action around the world. Zach Mortice’s Tall, Green, and Global: 10 of the Most Innovative Architecture Projects of 2016 presents everything from tiny starter homes in New Orleans to a skyscraper under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, destined to be the tallest in the world by over 500 feet–and sporting the highest observation deck in existence.

Another vibrant model of green architecture featured by Zach includes adaptive reuse, for example, turning an abandoned airport on Lake Michigan into a wetland refuge for waterfowl and other delighted urban wildlife. There’s also Carmel Place, New York’s first micro-unit apartment building. Made of 65 “steel-framed modular pieces stacked like LEGOs,” cozy studio apartments starting at 260 square feet are expected to offer “a pressure-release valve for New York and other cities where housing is scarce and space is at a premium.”

And, definitely, don’t miss my personal favorite, the stunning Botswana Innovation Hub by SHoP Architects in Gaborone, Botswana. Seen from the sky, the sleek profile of this developing-world collaborative research facility looks strikingly like a well-camouflaged starship parked on the African savannah. Covered in verdant green “energy blanket” roofs, the Botswana research buildings also collect rainwater and solar energy to help fuel this iconic Innovation Hub.

Redshifting Toward Green

Since introducing AutoCAD in 1982, Autodesk has become a world leader in 3D design, architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and entertainment software.

Expanding into the realm of green architecture, Autodesk’s Redshift team recognizes that the sustainable world of future generations is being designed today. Redshift sees the trends lighting the way to our future in terms of space technology. The team explains that, as the universe is expanding, the light stretching back to Earth from most galaxies is shifting into lower frequencies–redshifting into the future.

Designing a More Sustainable World for the Future

Machine learning, generative design, robotics, and related technological expansions are shifting the very nature of design. “Designers, engineers, builders, and makers are no longer confined to traditional ideas of design and engineering,” states Redshift. “The landscape has redshifted.”

“As the universe expands, so does the Redshift editorial team’s aim to move with it—at the forefront of architecture, construction, infrastructure, and manufacturing technology. We want to help designers and engineers design a better and more sustainable world for future generations.”

*This article was supported by Kickstart Search

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