Ecological buildings – oases of health
The challenge that the current century brings is related to the conservation of natural resources in order not to lose air from cities and to eliminate as much as possible the pollution factors. If, in the past, the technologies based on chemical materials were preferred, today in architecture and constructions, the “natural model” is starting to gain more and more ground.
The theory of sustainable development is the latest expression of a very old ethic that involves people’s relationships with the environment, and the responsibilities of current generations to future generations. Green buildings are beginning to be built in America and Western Europe as people become more aware of the impact that their actions have on the ecosystem and, thus, on the quality of their future existence.
Integrating the concept of sustainable development, the so-called green buildings represent healthy spaces for living and working created with the help of renewable resources (sun, wind, water) that considerably reduce maintenance costs and energy consumption. An ecological building is, in fact, a building that integrates into a unitary system (neighborhood, city, forest, etc.) and incorporates technology and design solutions to facilitate energy saving and the use of materials with minimal impact on the environment, but which ensures all the necessary comfort to the users, keeping profitable yields for the developers.
Therefore, the strategy adopted is the design for ease of maintenance and repair and the increase of flexibility that allows a building to be functionalized, extended, and reformulated for future use. Key concepts must be followed to obtain a genuinely environmentally friendly structure: the use of recyclable materials that do not contain toxic substances, alternative energy, and in general, all nearby resources to reduce transportation costs and pollution.
The correct orientation of the building on the site is also essential, allowing the use of solar energy through active systems (photovoltaic cells) and passive (use for sunny facades of heat-retaining materials, coupled with quality thermal insulation, results in a consumption reduced energy for heating). The windows’ placement is also essential. The ones from the south absorb the sun’s heat and the ones from the north, leaving it to be lost; some builders use for eco-houses and windows made of a special glass that allows light to penetrate but blocks heat. Water conservation systems: efficient sewage, rainwater collection, and wastewater recycling also play a significant role in the realization of these constructions.
For example, “Greywater,” water loss from sources such as washing dishes or washing machines, can be used for non-drinking activities such as sanitizing toilets, cleaning lawns or cars. High-performance insulation also significantly reduces the consumption of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. The energy customarily eliminated together with the water and the hot air that are waste of the different systems of the house (heating, installations, etc.) can be recovered by special devices, achieving important savings.
“Green” buildings often emphasize the idea of energy efficiency, which refers to finding a more extensive range of energy sources (solar energy, wind energy, hydraulic energy, geothermal energy, biomass (the biodegradable part of waste used to produce energy), creating a more low dependence on fossil fuels and an architecture that takes into account local climates and influences from the natural environment.
Green buildings are very different from traditional construction and by arranging eco-roofs that prevent excessive accumulation of heat in summer, reducing the specific costs of air conditioning and filtering air and rainwater. This type of roof, called natural, is made up of several layers of soil on which flowers and vegetables are planted, which help to counteract the greenhouse effect, giving the inhabitants the possibility to have a special place of relaxation and storage.
Adopting the ecological model for the entire life cycle of a building (design, design, construction, maintenance, and demolition) leads to the emergence of intelligent systems that have in mind the most efficient conservation of resources. Shopping malls are among the largest consumers of energy resources. That is why energy management systems will begin to be widely used as they transform the building into a rational consumer and determine greater cost efficiency. For example, turning off the light and turning off the heat in unused rooms, the rates decrease by 30 to 50%.
For office buildings, BMS (building management system) was invented – a system that controls light, heat, ventilation, so that energy is not consumed when people leave the office. As for the residential sector, developers are becoming aware of the need to build homes that protect the environment and reduce maintenance costs. A smart home system is an efficient system through which heating and lighting can be programmed according to the owner’s needs.
The system includes a built-in digital screen that works as a control panel from which can be adjusted: interior lighting, alarm, heating/ventilation, video intercom, presence and motion detection sensors, automatic start or stop of household appliances.
In conclusion, the incorporation of renewable technologies in building projects and the optimization of maintenance systems eliminates the negative impact on the environment and considerably reduces energy consumption. Green buildings thus represent an attempt to restore normalcy through an approach to nature and appreciation of its resources. Moreover, eco-houses generate a state of well-being and comfort that optimizes the contemporary lifestyle.