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In this module, various ways buildings affect the environment and the characteristics of sustainable buildings are discussed.

Learning objectives

After reading this module, students should be able to

  • understand the various ways buildings affect the environment
  • describe the characteristics of sustainable buildings

Introduction

Buildings present a challenge and an opportunity for sustainable development. According to the most recent available Annual Energy Outlook from the U.S. Environmental Information Administration, buildings account for about 39% of the carbon dioxide emissions, 40% of primary energy use, and 72% of the electricity consumption in the U.S. Additional information from the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that 14% of the potable water consumption occurs in buildings.

Globally, buildings are the largest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, above transportation and then industry. The construction of buildings requires many materials that are mined, grown, or produced and then transported to the building site. Buildings require infrastructure including roads, utility lines, water and sewer systems. People need to be able to get to and from buildings to work, live, or take advantage of the services provided within them. They need to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the people that inhabit them.

Impacts of the Built Environment Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/pubs/about.htm

Aspects of Built Environment

Consumption

Environmental Effects

Ultimate Effects

Siting Energy Waste Harm to human health
Design Water Air pollution Environmental degradation
Construction Materials GHG emissions Loss of resources
Operation Natural resources Water pollution
Maintenance Indoor pollution
Renovation Heat islands
Deconstruction Stormwater runoff
Noise

It is possible to design and construct fully functional buildings that have far fewer negative environmental impacts than current norms allow. Beyond benefitting the environment, green buildings provide economic benefits including reduced operating costs, expanded markets for green products and services, improved building occupant productivity, and optimized life-cycle performance. Green buildings also offer social benefits that range from protecting occupant comfort and health, to better aesthetic qualities, less strain on local infrastructure, and overall improvement in quality of life.

In 1994, a group of experts was brought together by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop a pathway and specific principles for sustainable development. According to these principles, building should be:

  • Ecologically Responsive : The design of human habitat shall recognize that all resources are limited, and will respond to the patterns of natural ecology. Land plans and building designs will include only those with the least disruptive impact upon the natural ecology of the earth. Density must be most intense near neighborhood centers where facilities are most accessible.
  • Healthy, Sensible Buildings: The design of human habitat must create a living environment that will be healthy for all its occupants. Buildings should be of appropriate human scale in a non-sterile, aesthetically pleasing environment. Building design must respond to toxicity of materials, care with EMF, lighting efficiency and quality, comfort requirements and resource efficiency. Buildings should be organic, integrate art, natural materials, sunlight, green plants, energy efficiency, low noise levels and water. They should not cost more than current conventional buildings.
  • Socially Just: Habitats shall be equally accessible across economic classes.
  • Culturally Creative: Habitats will allow ethnic groups to maintain individual cultural identities and neighborhoods while integrating into the larger community. All population groups shall have access to art, theater and music.
  • Beautiful: Beauty in a habitat environment is necessary for the soul development of human beings. It is yeast for the ferment of individual creativity. Intimacy with the beauty and numinous mystery of nature must be available to enliven our sense of the sacred.
  • Physically and Economically Accessible: All sites within the habitat shall be accessible and rich in resources to those living within walkable (or wheelchair-able) distance.
  • Evolutionary: Habitats' design shall include continuous re-evaluation of premises and values, shall be demographically responsive and flexible to change over time to support future user needs. Initial designs should reflect our society's heterogeneity and have a feedback system.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
NANO
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
NANO
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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