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What is a green building

Er. Parbhakar Dwivedi
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The fast depleting green cover giving way to construction of high rise buildings, residential and commercial townships causes major environmental impact. This impact is not a one-time effect but continues during the life time of building

The construction process requires energy intensive manufacturing of bricks, cement, tiles, steel in various forms. This energy, though not consumed directly at site of construction, is consumed in kilns, quarries and factories which may be hundreds of kilometers away from construction site. The farther these manufacturing utilities from site, more the energy consumed in transporting the construction material to site by consumption of non-renewable energy sources, i.e. petrol and diesel. The construction activity consumes large amount of electricity in running concrete mixers, hot asphalt plant and bitumen plants, cranes and a variety of construction equipments and tools. The consumption of water during construction cannot be overlooked. It is drawn from underground natural reservoirs or rivers thus depleting the water table. The debris generated from construction is disposed of sometimes in rivers, which is another matter of concern as rivers change course and enter the habitable areas causing flood

Once the building has been constructed, it consumes energy to fulfill the need of occupants in running air conditioning, providing illumination and power elevators and other devices. The power back up, relying heavily on generator power, consumes energy in the form of diesel and natural gas. Landscape is another concern which consumes large amount of water to provide greening and washing

Green building is one which uses less water, optimizes energy efficiency, conserves natural resources generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for occupants as compared to a conventional building.

Now-a-days, the concept has been extended further to develop 'Net-Zero' buildings and to certain extent "Power-Surplus" buildings. Net-zero buildings are those which do not consume any outside power but generates within the complex for its use. The waste water generated is treated within the building using STP and biogas generators. The treated water is utilized in cooling towers, flushing and land scraping purposes Power-Surplus buildings on the other hand are not only self-sufficient for their survival but export power and treated water for utilization by others.

The green buildings utilize technology to reduce reliance on outside resources, e.g. hi-tech control equipments like light and motion sensors reduce power consumption on lights, intelligent controls in air conditioning system help to run the equipments according to load demand, building management system (BMS) controls the power consumption of various devices and switch them off by monitoring the space occupancy, usage pattern and running them at varying load by sending signals to various controls.

The green buildings attempt to reduce off site power demand on manufacturing of construction materials and their transportation. Materials which consume less energy in manufacturing are used. They are obtained from nearby resources also.

Thus green building is a concept which has to be comprehensively developed jointly by architects, civil, electrical and mechanical engineers as explained in detail in next few pages. They critically examine the negative impact of their design on environment and modify / moderate it into a positive impact.

In short, the following aspects of a building design are considered that result in the construction of a green building:

a. Site Planning

b. Wholistic building design (also called envelope de-sign)

c. Use of renewable energy resources

d. Electrical, air conditioning and lighting design efficiency

e. Selection of environment friendly materials

f. Water and waste management and treatment

g. Indoor thermal, visual and air quality

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