Green buildings, a way to reduce environmental degradation

Source: World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Buildings are everywhere: we live in them, we work in them, we buy in them… They are both in towns and in cities. However, they are more common in the latter. Currently, 51% of the total population lives in cities and this percentage is estimated to increase in the upcoming years. By 2030, this proportion will reach 60%, and 70% by 2050 [1]. This increase will be due to several factors, such as the constant spread of cities in emerging countries and the growth of the global population, which is expected to reach between 8.3 and 10.9 billion by 2050 [2].

The raise of world population, and the consequent increment in the number of buildings, will have a negative impact on the environment and on the use of energy and resources. Nowadays, buildings use around 40% of global energy, 25% of global water, 40% of global resources and they emit approximately 33% of GHG emissions [3].

Source: Energy Technology Perspectives 2008, IEA 2008

As a solution to this problem, alternative sustainable buildings are now emerging. Green building refers to a structure and using process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from sitting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition [4]. This way, green buildings aim to reduce the environmental impact of the edifices by efficiently using resources such as energy or water, and reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation.

Source: World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Green buildings certification bodies have arisen too. An example is LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. In this context, the role of green building certifications is crucial to promote sustainable buildings as these certifications can have very positive outcomes for companies that support and promote sustainability as a way to acquire credibility and reputation.

These reasons explain why green buildings can play an important role to reduce environmental degradation. We cannot continue damaging the environment as we have been doing during the last decades. The proliferation of green buildings is an suitable tool to reduce the human negative impact on the environment and to promote an efficient and effective use of natural resources.


References:

[1]http://www.who.int/gho/urban_health/situation_trends/urban_population_growth_text/en/

[2]http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45165#.Uu0v-D15Png

[3]http://www.unep.org/sbci/AboutSBCI/Background.asp

[4]Yan Ji and Stellios Plainiotis (2006): Design for Sustainability. Beijing: China Architecture and Building Press. ISBN 7-112-08390-7


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