To what extent can green architecture be implemented to reduce environmental problems arising due to rapid urbanization? According to the United Nations Environment Programme, buildings account for nearly half of the world’s energy expenditures, 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, 25% of the earth’s potable water and, in developed countries, over 20% of all solid waste generated. (Importance of Sustainable Architecture and Design) Rising global populations has resulted in rapid urbanization all over the world, leading to the rise in environmental problems faced by all living things, such as increasing levels of pollution, loss of tree cover, high risk of environmental hazards, change in global climate, loss of habitat of animals, etc. The building sector has the largest potential for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions compared to other major emitting sectors. (About Green Building) Having lived in Mumbai, a concrete jungle, I have experienced the effects of the environmental problems arising due to rapid urbanization firsthand. New buildings come up all the time in this city, to house an ever-growing population of 18.41 million people, designed with the expense in mind, rather than the impact they have on the environment. Through this research I want to look at possibilities to change the face of Mumbai architecture, using environmentally friendly methods.
Green architecture is a sustainable method, of designing and construction, taking the environment into consideration, to create energy efficient, environmentally sustainable houses and buildings, using eco-friendly materials. Green architecture is an emerging alternative to current ways of building.Research indicates that green buildings all over the world produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average buildings, save on average between 30 – 40% energy and carbon emissions every year, and between 20 – 30% potable water every year, when compared to the industry norm, to consume 25 percent less energy and 11 per cent less water, than non-green buildings and result in energy savings of 40 – 50% and water savings of 20 – 30% compared to conventional buildings. Its economic advantages include cost savings on utility bills through energy and water efficiency, lower construction costs, higher property value for building developers, among many others. (About Green Building). Despite its economic and environmental advantages, there are many issues one will face when it comes to the implementation of green architecture.
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVEThe concept of green building is spreading globally. Several countries are using green building models to create environmentally sustainable cities and reduce their carbon footprint.Currently, Sweden is achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals faster than any other country, with a score of 84.
5, as per the WEF. Sweden’s many projects include initiatives to save energy by designing environmental timber houses, electric cars,etc in order to achieve their goal of reducing carbon footprints per person annually. The neighbourhood of Augustenborg is an example of ecological conversion of an existing residential area, by using green roofs which slow down flooding by absorbing rainwater and implementing a large solar energy project to harness energy for both private and public buildings.
A number of communities in Sweden are powering houses and buildings using energy from body heat, electrical appliances and sunlight. At Stockholm’s Central Station, Swedish experts have designed a geothermal system that captures body heat from over 250,000 daily commuters.Singapore, a model for green building in Asia, has adopted green architectural designs and energy-saving technologies. 1,534 new buildings and 215 already existing buildings have been certified to be green buildings by Singapore’s Buildings and Construction Authority. While Singapore is 19th on the Sustainable Development Goals Index, the country is facing several challenges with the implementation of green building. It is easier to build a new green building that to convert an old one.
Being a developing country, one of the advantages Singapore has is that there is high scope for construction of new buildings due to rapid urbanisation. Although green buildings have several environmental and long term economical benefits, builders prefer building regular buildings due to lack of awareness, as they believe that is it the more convenient option. The biggest challenge is the lack of green building professionals. The second most important challenge,is affordability of these environmentally sustainable buildings and the perception that green is for high-end projects only. While planning the green buildings, little consideration is given to the maintenance of the buildings, neglecting the fact that the users may not be able to utilise the features effectively, due to lack of knowledge.