Benefits of Green Buildings
Keywords: green design, green architecture, ecology, environment, sick building symdrome, benefits of green design
One of the major themes in contemporary architecture is the ecological movement and the need for 'green' buildings. Some commentators argue that green design is Utopian and unrealistic. However, green buildings make economic sense: they cost more to build than conventional buildings, but the fact that green buildings are energy efficient means that they tend to recover the extra costs in the first ten years. Green design is not Utopian; it can be highly practical and financially beneficial.
The benefits of green design are:
- Economies in fuel bills
- Market advantage
- Greater productivity of workforce
Green design is economical in terms of fuel consumption. Buildings are designed to prevent energy loss, which means that less energy is used to begin with. This benefits the environment, but also saves money on fuel bills. For example, the NMB Building in Amsterdam (1990) was designed by Richard Rogers. It was designed on green principles and it saves £300,000 in energy costs per year, compared to a conventional office building of the same size. Apparently, the building recovered its costs within three months of occupancy.
Green buildings appeal to a certain section of the property market, because they are fashionable with eco-conscious people. Green credentials can be a selling point; they enhance the company’s image, making it look progressive and benevolent.
We all have a need for fresh air, sunlight and an environment we can control. Our physical well-being depends on these things, but much of the design produced now denies these needs. The psychologist Theodore Roszak argues that nature-deprivation is a major cause of psychological maladjustment. This has been called “sick building syndrome.” People reportedly feel better in green buildings. The ability to open windows and blinds, to control the temperature and light level is important. Plants inside the building ensure that the air has high oxygen content.
If green buildings are designed as healthy environments they benefit the workers, but they also make workers more productive, which benefits the company. Going back to the NMB Building, the company reported that absenteeism among its workforce was 15% lower, which confirms that a healthy, pleasant environment can boost productivity.
These are all very practical, economic reasons for using green design, and firms are more likely to build on green principles if it leads to a profit.
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