‘Eco building’ is a term that is frequently thrown around by press, politicians and many others. But what actually is an eco building and how are they sustainable?
Wikipedia defines a green building, synonymous with eco building, as “a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.”
This pretty much sums it up. To be an eco building, there needs to have been consideration for the environment behind every single decision to do with the building and it’s construction. This ensures that natural habitats are as protected as possible and emissions are either net-zero or very low. To be a true eco building, emissions should be the former.
Eco building requirements
An eco building will consider the location of the build and how the original and surrounding habitat/ landscape will be affected – will animals be robbed of their habitat or food source? Is the land currently providing an area with necessary green space? Furthermore, eco building planners will then carefully select materials that can be produced without deforestation or emitting tonnes of greenhouse gases.
The actual construction of the building needs to be examined, looking at the energy needed to create the structures, how to transport them to site, and how to power the build. The energy used will need to be minimised and later offset to ensure minimal to zero environmental impact.
Once built, the eco building should have design features that will preserve energy and reduce wasted heat, electricity, and water. The building should require minimal heating due to clever insulation, and should produce its own renewable energy through the use of solar panels or wind power. It’s important for these buildings to also be future-proof, with environmental credentials and standards that will stand the test of time and remain cutting edge for decades.
Eco buildings in practice
So what does a true eco building actually look like? Well, it might look a bit like this…
Or maybe more like this…
Eco buildings aren’t restricted to residential properties either. A great eco building in the heart of Bristol is the newly constructed office building, The Distillery. Although not net-zero, The Distillery is a newly built office that has regenerated brownfield land using a future-proof design. The eco building has also incorporated PV panels and other smart features such as automatic air conditioning control when a window is opened. Features like these will dramatically reduce the energy output of an office block and lower the overall carbon footprint.
How can I get involved?
Anyone can get involved with eco buildings. The single greatest thing you can do? Buy a zero carbon home. The purchase of a home is usually the largest purchase an individual or couple will ever make – it’s also one of the largest contributors to your lifetime carbon footprint. By purchasing an eco home, not only will you be reducing your own carbon footprint, but you will be increasing the overall demand for eco buildings which will in turn increase the supply, meaning less carbon, more eco.
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