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  • Saskia Scarce

Green Innovation: A Dive into Sustainable Architecture

As a senior student hoping to attend university for architecture, it is important to comprehend and acknowledge the changes currently happening in architecture. We, as a society, are becoming more aware of how our actions are directly correlated with the destruction of our planet’s health. Our awareness of these threats affects how architects and engineers approach designing and constructing infrastructure.

According to Britannica, green architecture is a “philosophy of architecture that advocates sustainable energy sources, the conservation of energy, the reuse and the siting of a building with consideration of its impact on the environment”.

History of Green Architecture

The history of green architecture doesn’t have a particular origin. However, the Encyclopedia Britannica dates the birth to be linked to the 1960’s environmental movement. Others say that the Indigenous’s minimal and environmentally conscious lifestyle was the basis of the green architecture movement.

Frank Llyod Wright earned the title as the first green architect because of his dedication to incorporating buildings with its environment while reducing energy costs by utilizing natural elements and maximizing small spaces.

Ian McHarg was a landscape architect who wrote the Book of Nature, which was one of his more impactful works. His book sparked the environmental decade where legislation was passed to preserve the health of our home, Earth.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

“LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: location and transportation, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”

- Canada Green Building Council

The LEED standards were initiated in 2000 and it administers a credible blueprint for companies to ensure that they are being sustainable. As time passed, people were realizing that it was more financially beneficial to contract a green building since it reduced the costs to maintain the property. In America, the government made it mandatory for public buildings to have a LEED certification, pushing architects and engineers to be economically aware while being innovative and sustainable.

Green Innovation, Bosco Verticale.

Examples of Green Architecture

Bosco Verticale (2014)

Architectural Firm: Boeri Studio

Location: Milan, Italy

These residential buildings have various plants scaling the outside walls instead of the traditional materials. The isolated vertical forest supports a diversity of bugs and birds while providing a cleaner environment for the residents. The dense greenery transforms into microclimate, which absorbs carbon dioxide, becomes a direct source of oxygen, and protects residents from radiation and noise pollution.

One Central Park (2014)

Architectural Firm: Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Location: Sydney, Australia

This plot of land, similar to New York’s Central Park’s purpose, is to serve as a recreational area, but with several twists. In the middle, a pair of towers stand with a variety of Australian native plants embedded within their design. The building also has wastewater recycling features which allow residents to use less water and be cost-effective. To ensure that the shadows of the buildings did not interfere with the growth of the plants and the fields, there is a cantilever (a long beam that is fixed on one end) and several heliostats (giant mirror) whose purpose is to reflect sunlight.

CopenHill (2017)

Architectural Firm: BIG

Location: København, Denmark

This waste to power plant is not only amazing because of its intended purpose,but the plant’s roof also doubles as a recreational area for the residents in København, Denmark. It features a 500-meter ski slope, hiking trail and a climbing wall. This first of its kind waste management facility has an unusually beautiful exterior while being multi-functional.

As we continue to become more environmentally conscious in every field that we pursue, we have to push the boundaries of creativity and innovation while being sustainable. This mentality is very visible in the field of architecture as we begin to see more people purchasing environmentally friendly homes, like tiny houses. Also, more students are majoring in courses that are centred around sustainable architecture.


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