Green architecture is a broad term that refers to the creation or restructuring of buildings so they have a minimal impact on the environment. There are a number of different approaches to green construction, with many of the ideas involving the responsible recycling of existing resources along with the efficient use of environmentally friendly systems to provide water and power services to buildings that are created using a sustainable design. As more people have become concerned about the wise use of the planet's resources, the concept of green architecture has gained in both acceptability and interest.
In general, a green architect will attempt to design or overhaul buildings so they provide all the necessary functions but do not pose a threat to the surrounding environment. In many cases, this means using building materials that are composed of organic compounds rather then synthetics. The building materials may be wood, bricks, or other elements that are harvested from older buildings scheduled for demolition. These harvested materials are joined with newer technology to create structures that fit into the surrounding landscape with greater ease and make the best use of available resources for heating, cooling, cooking, and water supply to the edifice.
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The use of solar panels is a common element of green architecture. The panels, along with their storage tanks, make it possible to store energy for electrical needs such as cooking, keeping the temperature in the building at a comfortable level, and running necessary equipment such as computers. In recent years, coupling a solar energy system with a wind system has been experimented with, effectively drawing on two renewable resources to create energy to meet the demands of modern life.
Collection vats and other devices are also a common element in green architecture. This makes it possible to collect rainwater and use it for tasks such as watering lawns, growing crops, or operating sewage systems. A system of this type helps to ease the demand on municipal purification systems, reserving purified water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
Another important aspect of green design is the strategic placement of windows around the facing of the building. Ideally, the windows are placed so that the most efficient use of sunlight during the day takes place. In addition to decreasing the demand for artificial light during the daytime, the windows can also serve as a means of allowing the natural sunlight to provide a degree of warmth to the interior of the building. This in turn makes it possible to utilize less of the stored solar or wind energy to keep the space at an equitable temperature.
Depending on the placement of the building and its intended purpose, other aspects of green architecture may be included. The building may be recessed partially into the side of a hill, providing natural insulation. Composting toilets may be the ideal solution in areas where water is harder to come by. Finding ways to use whatever elements are native to the area also help to keep the structure in balance with nature, such as creating blocks using local sand rather than shipping in bricks constructed elsewhere. While the process of creating green architecture may be more difficult in some areas, there is no doubt that just about any structure can be altered or designed to be more environmentally friendly.