Green architecture is also referred to as sustainable building or green building. It is defined as an approach to building that minimizes harmful effects on the environment.

Brenda Okoth takes us on a tour of the world’s best examples of “green” construction.

A green building is a structure that uses processes that are environmentally responsible and resource efficient throughout its life cycle.Features of green architecture may include efficient heating and cooling ventilation system designs, water saving plumbing, energy efficient appliances, locally obtained raw material, use of recycled architectural salvage and use of non toxic, non synthetic construction materials. The common objective of green architecture is to decrease overall impact on human health and the environment through efficient energy and water use as well as other resources, decreasing waste production and protecting occupant health while increasing productivity. Throughout the globe there are perfect examples of green architecture proving this budding architectural concept is not simply theoretical but functional and even aesthetically appealing.

The Bank of America Tower

It is situated in Bryant Park New York City is regarded as a worldwide model for green architecture. Its design uses technology to make it environmentally friendly. This billion dollar project uses floor to ceiling insulating glass to contain heat and maximize natural light as well as an automated daylight dimming system. It has a cooling system that stores ice during off peak hours and allows the ice to help cool the building during peak hours. A feature designed to capture and reuse rain water is also in place (grey water system) and the building consists largely of recycled and recyclable materials. Another water saving feature is their waterless urinals which save up to 30 million litres a year. Air going in and out of the building is filtered and most of the raw materials used are actually recyclable and renewable within 500 miles of New York sticking to the sustainable building ideology.

The BMW Welt

Found in Munich Germany, it is a multifunctional customer experience and exhibition facility. It stands on 785,000 square feet and has been touted as a shrine to German auto engineering. Whirling seamlessly into a double cone, the expanse of its roof has a photovoltaic array made up of 3660 solar modules. The steel panels installed on the roof help heat the entire building via solar gain which is also encouraged by materials on the external facade of the structure. Vegetation near ventilation helps cool incoming air in warmer months and filters dust particles.

The Clinton Presidential LibraryLocated in Little Rock, Arkansas is another good example of green architecture. It has a roof top garden to absorb carbon dioxide, regulate temperatures and reduce rain water runoff. Green cleaning plus an increased recycling capability are in place as well as a reduction in waste through local sourcing. Dockside Green located in Victoria B.C. CanadaThis is a 15 acre mixed harbour front development aimed at setting a record for sustainability of green architecture on a neighbourhood scale. Its architects were so confident of it being certified as green that they agreed to pay a 1 million dollar penalty if they didn’t achieve it and true to their word they did! Dockside Green rests on former industrial land on the inner harbour. The buildings have energy efficient light fixtures and occupancy sensors. Its construction material consists of 40% f ly ash which replaces green house intensive cement. The construction materials used are obtained locally and are renewable and despite still being tethered to the area’s electricity grid, there will be an inside fence cogeneration plant which will use biomass gasification to provide heat and warm water to all the buildings.Green architecture notes that buildings as well as people are responsible for greenhouse emissions and environmental sustainability is better achieved by incorporating green buildings into denser, mixed use neighbourhoods with better transport alternatives being provided.