Constructing a green building
Sir: A green building is one in which there is little or no emission of green house gases emanating from the building and the building actually goes on to reduce green house gas emission emanating from neighbouring buildings. A green building must be built in a manner that is energy efficient and sustainable. The materials for a green building can be acquired from local sources to reduce the energy cost of transportation or can be salvaged from nearby dump sites. The materials for a green building must be recyclable and should have low capacity to generate waste. Solar energy can be integrated into the building and used to meet the heating and cooling demands of the building. This will reduce the financial and energy cost of heating and cooling. Solar doors and windows can be used in the design of the building.
In comparison to fossil fuel, this will offer a better health deal to the occupants of the building. Fewer hours spent on illnesses means increase in productivity of the occupants of the building. With respect to harnessing solar energy for the building, the building should be elongated on an East-West axis. The southern part of the building should be located such that it receives maximum sunlight during the peak hours of sunshine in a day. The interior spaces of the building that requires maximum lighting should be located in the southern part of the building. Less used spaces within the building should be located in the northern part of the building. The advantage of maximally harnessing solar energy for the building is that it leads to low energy bills all year round.
Efficient water management is also a key feature of green buildings. Water efficient appliances like low flow showerheads, self-closing or spray taps can be employed. Minimizing water use is achieved by installing rainwater catchment systems that recycles water for irrigation and flushing of toilets.
To achieve a green building, there is need for collaboration of all members of the design team to design efficiency targets and integrate them into the developers design and budgeting capacity. The design team must be able to communicate effectively, have cooperative attitude and be open minded. The design team should include an integrator whose mandate is to maintain focus and channel the contribution of the entire team towards maintaining the overall target. The design team once assembled should define the energy efficiency targets of the project.
All members of the team should be able to make their input to generate a draft energy efficiency target for the building which can be modified along various phases of the actual construction when decision making scenarios arise and professional choices are to be made. If the draft energy efficiency target is well defined from the onset, it will reduce the need for corrective action during the life cycle of the building. Strategies for monitoring and verification of how well the targets are being met should be devised.
Also, handover procedures and trainings should be delivered to those who will live in the building since they are an integral component of achieving energy efficiency and sustainability of the building.
• Martins Eke.