Environmental Impact of Modern Buildings

"Change is coming, it may take a decade or two for green buildings to outdo the traditional, but change is coming."
Photo Attribution: 
gordecosense/Flickr.com

Chances are the last thing that you were thinking about when you entered that diner or the retail outlet was the negative impact such an establishment has on the environment.  Buildings are great, each of them play their part at providing some sort of solution to our everyday life.  In fact, we spend most of our existence in buildings; we go to school in them, work in them, eat and shop in them and store our goods in them.  The benefits are endless when it comes to both residential and commercial buildings; however, traditional buildings are not always so kind to us or to our wallets and to our environment.

Statistics show that buildings contribute to more than 30% of the worlds carbon dioxide emissions; Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas that effects the integrity and health of the environment, it is a naturally occurring gas, but the increase of energy usage and overall burning of fossil fuels has inspired an overgrowth of emissions. 72% of the world’s electricity consumption comes from buildings; heating, cooling and appliance powering are the three main areas of electricity consumption.

All of this electricity consumption is also hard on our wallets; the increase of electricity use also means larger energy bills. From beginning to the end, everything about traditional buildings is anti-green. Materials used to build buildings carry harshness and toxins that dirty our land, air and waters as well as degrading our health. However, change is coming, it may take a decade or two for green buildings to outdo the traditional, but change is coming.

What is a Green Building:
An eco-friendly building refers to a construction built and managed with the environment in mind; Green buildings can be dwellings fabricated with recycled or sustainable materials, painted with toxic free paints, run on alternative energy sources and feature low flow toilets and natural lighting. A green building manager may implement rain water harvesting, recycling and composting. Green buildings preserve the integrity of the environment while effectively providing a service and making our life easier. Two developments in the area of Eco buildings that have been buzzing lately are cob buildings and solar buildings, each add financial and environmental benefits to the plate along with reliability and effectiveness.

What are Cob Buildings and Solar Buildings:
Both Cob buildings and Solar buildings are Eco processes aimed at providing effective building solutions while posing limited to zero negative effect on the environment. 

Cob Buildings: The first thought of cob buildings may conger up images of old-world times; days where no other building materials were available. Visions of small villages and simple living may present themselves at the thought of a building constructed with clay, sand, fibers and water. And of course, cob buildings are all of the above and more. Cob construction is one of the oldest forms of building materials known to man; it is inexpensive and completely Eco-friendly. Until recently, cob buildings were viewed as forms of un-functional art and examples of outdated construction. However, modernized cob buildings have been introduced and are making waves across the Pacific North West and, indeed, the country.  Modern day cob buildings possess a charming and natural feel, they feature all the organic materials of its quaint counterpart and often are accompanied with solar paneling and other green processes that make them even more eco-friendly. They are weatherproof, fireproof and non-toxic.

Solar Buildings: A solar building is a construction that uses the suns energy to provide heating, cooling and powering instead of traditional methods. Solar buildings work with the aid of strategically paced solar panels; these panels capture and store the suns energy, such energy alternative is completely reliable and environmentally friendly. While the startup cost of constructing a solar building may seem expensive, the ROI and savings from traditional energy usage is worth it. Solar energy is one of the most popular methods in the area of green construction.

While present day building still relies heavily on the environmentally harsh construction and energy consumption, as Eco awareness grows so do sustainable alternatives and methods.

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