What kind of building is a Sustainable building?

Updated: Sep 19, 2020

Should a #greenbuilding be painted as green in colour, or looks green? What is the exact benefit of a sustainable building? Does putting all sustainability gadgets make my building green? What is the bare minimum I should put on my building to claim it as green? Or should I only consider those "#showcase" features for my green building so I can demonstrate and showcase to the industry?

There are several definitions of Sustainable Architecture, Sustainable Building, Green Building which provides a comprehensive guideline on what a sustainable building should consider. However, there is no universal definition for a Green Building.

Commonly buildings claim as "Sustainable buildings" after awarded as local or international Green Building Certified. Branded as Sustainability is the right marketing approach to demonstrate the project's commitment and responsibility to climate change, therefore, attracts more business opportunities. A sustainable building also has the potential to save more utility usage and provides a better environment for its occupants.

Following the green certifications, a sustainable building should demonstrate its sustainability efforts on energy, water and material usage, provides a better environment and be innovative in the process and features. These common understanding is getting more stringent over time, and the industry is putting a high expectation on demonstrating a sustainable building. The market leaders are competing to be No. 1 to demonstrate high-performance buildings, for example, Net Zero Energy Building, Low Carbon Building, many buildings will also take the opportunity to be the first in demonstrating certain particular aspects.

This article list the commonly known basic Sustainability #features for your reference, which sets a fundamental benchmark for the Sustainable buildings:

Note: This basic sustainability features do not link to any green building certification or benchmarking.

1. Energy: The building should at least demonstrate a percentage of #energysaving through their designed features. For a good design, it usually sets 30% savings base on the local code requirement or 40% more as outstanding performers. The energy savings should at least include good building facade insulation to prevent heat transfer; high efficient and low heat emitting equipment; energy sensors to optimise energy usage and present #waste of energy. 

2. Water: The measurable parameter is the percentage of #watersavings through product selection - water saving faucet, dual flush, waterless urinal.  Also to be monitored by water meters. The water meters should also have the ability to monitor and alarm potential water leakage.

3. Material: A sustainability design material considers two types of materials, 1. the construction material with green cement, recycled concrete replacing non-load-bearing structures. 2. Building finishes with green labels. There is a wide range of #greenproducts to be selected. The material selection should be based on the need, price, product content and the sustainability impact on climate change. The project may find a balance between cost and product sustainability impact.

4. Indoor Air Quality: To enhance #IndoorAirQuality, one way is to ventilate the building well, and another way is to reduce indoor pollutions. Ventilate the building will bring more fresh air indoor (this is recommended in natural ventilated building, for tempered building with cooling or heating, more fresh air may increase energy consumption). Reduce indoor pollution by using products with low VOC paint, low urea-formaldehyde product, and with less toxic emissions.

5. Design process: A sustainable building should be based on a sustainable design process, which brings the meaning of sustainability at the beginning of the project to avoid any afterthought. Make the building green in the first place will help the project integrate the sustainability agenda more seamlessly.

6. Innovation, #Creativity: Here we won't put many restrictions since projects are given full space to explore what is possible!

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