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Green Buildings: An Ultimate Solution to Build a Sustainable Future

With more people looking forward to a sustainable future, the need for green buildings is growing. Over the last few decades, architecturally impressive green buildings have been popping up in Australia, making inhabitants healthier and happier.

Green buildings help the occupants stay mentally healthy, with vegetation and being close to nature restoring their psychological condition.

Moreover, buildings awarded the BASIX Certificate minimise energy and water consumption, maximise air and light quality, and increase greenery. Thus, green buildings have become a crucial part of urban development.

Let’s read further to know what green buildings are, their characteristics, and key initiatives and trends in Australia.

What are Green Buildings?

Green buildings focuses on a resource-efficient construction method. It aims to develop ecologically sustainable buildings with reduced environmental impact and are inexpensive to maintain.

This sustainable approach construction encompasses a building’s entire life cycle straing from designing phase and construction to operation, maintenance, upgradation, and demolition.

What are the Salient Features of Green Buildings?

Green buildings, as the name suggests, aim to meet specific sustainability requirements. For a building to achieve a BASIX Certificate and be termed a green building, it should adopt the following common characteristics:

Site

The Australian government encourages green builders to build on previously developed land instead of constructing new land. In addition, builders should build near existing infrastructure, such as public transportation routes, to reduce inhabitants’ dependence on private vehicle use.

It’s advisable to select the smaller building site as the smaller the size, the less environmental footprint the building will have. Moreover, sustainably landscaped sites without light pollution or soil erosion are considered appropriate for developing green buildings.

Efficient use of water

Another characteristic of a green building is minimising water use during construction and equipping the building with mechanisms to reduce its water footprint. Water reduction is built by design, installing low-flow toilets, xeriscaping, and greywater systems.

First, the builders focus on reducing the need for water by using equipment using less water, such as low-flow toilets, and then dealing with the used water, such as greywater irritation. Moreover, water collection methods like rainwater harvesting are also vital to sustainable buildings.

Energy and atmosphere

Green buildings should be constructed using energy-efficient designs to minimise energy consumption and increase energy efficiency, thus complying with the NatHERS and reducing pollution.

Passive houses should be built with super-insulation and other techniques for a tight building envelope and minimal energy usage. In addition, builders can use renewable resources and clean energy such as solar PV and geothermal systems.

Materials and resources

The building industry contributes significantly to waste, and to minimise its impact, green builders should focus on reducing material and resource usage wherever possible.

They should incorporate recycling systems and use sustainable materials during construction.

Deploying practices like salvaging, deconstructing, remanufacturing, and refurbishing are vital in reusing and recycling materials used for green buildings.

Indoor environmental quality

Indoor air quality affects inhabitants’ health more than outdoor air quality. Green builders make the best possible efforts to construct buildings that are good for the environment and residents’ health.

They use low-emitting materials such as zero-VOC paints or formaldehyde-free furnishings to improve indoor environmental quality. In addition, improved ventilation and moisture-resistant products are also vital indoor environmental quality attributes.

Key Initiatives and Trends in Green Building

The following are critical green building initiatives and trends in Australia:

Green building standards

One of the most significant initiatives of the Australian government for the green building movement is the development of green building standards.

These standards provide builders, designers, and architects the framework to design and construct buildings that have minimal environmental impact and promote sustainability.

For instance, the NCC BCA Section J specifies the energy efficiency requirements for different types of commercial developments. Besides this, the Green Building Council of Australia developed the Green Star rating system- the country’s most widely adopted green building standard.

This star rating system evaluates the buildings based on various sustainability criteria, including energy and water efficiency, materials, resources, and indoor air quality.

Moreover, the Australian government has introduced multiple financial incentives to encourage builders to develop green buildings.

For instance, the Low Carbon Australia Fund provides financial assistance for sustainable building materials and energy-efficient projects. It offers grants for projects aiming to reduce the buildings’ carbon footprint and contribute to environmental protection.

Sustainable building materials

Another trend in the green building movement is using sustainable materials for buildings. These materials are eco-friendly, have less environmental impact, and enhance the building’s aesthetic appeal.

Some sustainable building materials include low-carbon concrete, recycled and reclaimed timber, and natural insulation materials like cotton or wool.

You can collaborate with a building consultant to select the right building material for your projects. This can make it easier for your project to comply with NCC BCA Section J or BASIX.

Renewable energy integration

Green building movement and focus on renewable resources goes hand-in-hand. Integrating renewable energy during construction process has emerged as another popular trend.

Builders increasingly use renewable energy systems like solar panels, wind turbines, and various other sustainable energy systems to minimise the buildings’ energy consumption, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Moreover, using renewable energy sources for buildings offers cost savings in the long run, as they reduce the dependence on conventional energy sources while generating excess energy that can be sold back to the main grid.

Building information modelling (BIM)

Building information modelling (BIM) is an emerging trend increasingly used to construct green buildings in Australia. It’s a digital tool that allows builders, designers, architects, and engineers to create a building’s 3D models and stimulate their performance under varied conditions.

Moreover, this tool can help spot potential energy savings, reduce waste during construction, and optimise building designs. Builders increasingly use BIM to create more sustainable and environmentally friendly establishments with minimal environmental impact.

Final Thoughts

With sustainable architecture becoming the central component of green building urban planning in Australia, architects and builders continue to explore new designs and construction techniques prioritising sustainability.

Moreover, developers and architects must comply with government-specified energy efficiency standards like NatHERs, BASIX, NABERS, and more to construct green buildings, reducing the building’s environmental impact.

Advancements in green building technology are also making it easier for builders to create eco-friendly, sustainable buildings using intelligent appliances, energy-efficient systems, and innovative building materials.

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