You might not think that architects have that much control over how green a building is. It sounds like it’s the sort of thing that the electricians and the engineers have to take care of, while architects hunch over their T-squares and tilted desks. However, there are plenty of things that architects can do in order to make sure that the buildings are going to be much greener than they would have been otherwise.
For one thing, a lot of green building design involves making use of natural light. Natural light has the advantage of being both free and energy-efficient. A lot of buildings are designed with small windows, or windows that aren’t set up so they’ll get a lot of sun. You have to know which side of the building to take advantage of when it comes to natural light, given the direction of the sunlight in different areas.
You also have to make sure that the windows are energy-efficient themselves and that they are going to retain the heat effectively enough. However, from there, you can make good use of the light that’s already all around us. If you look at a lot of modern green buildings, they will seem to have a futuristic design that favors a lot of windows, as if you’re looking at a giant spaceship. That isn’t just a fashion statement. The architect received orders to make use of the natural light as well as possible.
A lot of green building design isn’t about the shape of the buildings themselves, of course, or any of those other factors. Often times, it all comes down to the building materials. Some building materials retain heat better than others, which means that you don’t have to use as much energy when it comes to heating them. Buildings that are good at maintaining internal temperatures also won’t use as much energy when it comes to air conditioning.
Some of green building design comes down to interior decorating. You need to choose lighting fixtures that don’t use too much energy, and you need to choose sinks that have low water flows. Your lights need to be on timers so you can make sure that you’re not using electricity when no one’s even in the room to see it. Having electricity that flickers on an off based on motion sensors can also work wonders in that regard. However, some of green building design is inherent to the framework of the building itself.
Making a conventional building anywhere near this green would involve extensive remodeling, and even then you’d never quite get it right. You’re generally better off just starting over again and trying to create a building that was green right from the start. Architects and their engineer and energy manager colleagues are managing to do that all over the world, and it is possible that this sort of building design will become standard in the future.