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Designing Green

As a student in the architectural technology program at CityTech, architects have a duty to protect the environment which mean their work ties directly into climate change.  As the population of the planet increases architects are in higher demand to design new buildings and improve existing buildings to accommodate this growth.  Within the past years building codes and regulations have gotten a lot stricter in regard to creating clean and energy efficient structures.  In the United States alone existing buildings account for almost 40% of the US carbon emissions. Going forward, climate change also impacts the architectural design of buildings, especially structures in coastal regions.  Buildings must be built to withstand hurricanes, flooding and high winds and other climate changes related to weather.  

In recent years Architects have become more conscious about building sustainable structures. This can be achieved by numerous different ways especially in choosing materials.  Most commonly the exterior of buildings is constructed out of steel framing and a concrete exterior fascia.  The manufacturing of concrete and steel both create a large amount of carbon dioxide, especially in the delivery to the site using fossil fuel vehicles and in the assembly.  To help alleviate the amount of these materials used, architects have begun installing curtain walls which are far more sustainable.  These curtain walls in the right position provide the interior with natural light which greatly help reduce the energy consumed by artificial lights. In the winter it can provide sunlight which can warm up the inside of the building and in the summer, they can be tinted to help shade the space and cut back on the energy consumed by the systems which also saves money.

When architecture students graduate, they have the expectation to design and construct new sustainable buildings. However, this isn’t always the case according to a study says that by 2050 in NYC 90 percent of the buildings here today will still be standing.  It is up to architects to convert these buildings into more sustainable structures.  A lot of the existing older buildings consume a lot of energy and have bigger carbon footprints. These buildings can be converted into green buildings and be more efficient.  The roofs can be retrofitted to become green roofs and have plants and in some cases trees and shrubs. The service systems can also be updated to consume less energy and have less toxic output to the environment. These buildings can also be equipped with renewable energy sources such as solar panels, rain gardens and photovoltaic equipment. This will help lower the amount of carbon and energy used by these buildings. Currently buildings are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s energy use and 24 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Climate change directly impacts the world of architecture.  Climate change has caused an increase in precipitation throughout the seasons and buildings need to adapt to this and be able to drain the water as well as be structurally sound to accommodate the heavier rains.  A milder climate would also mean the materials used in construction won’t last as long or hold up as well. The existing buildings, especially near the cost at or below sea level, need to be updated to accommodate the changing climates. The rising waters can result in buildings being more susceptible to leakage and flooding.  Architects need to learn how to adapt to these conditions and learn how to incorporate needed changes into the building code for new buildings. 

Architecture and climate change are very closely related.  Architects have the power and knowledge to help reverse the effects of climate change. A study has revealed that in one year alone architects have reduced their predicted carbon emissions by 17.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.  This is only the beginning as more architects start to design more green structures, their contributions will see the amount of greenhouse gases decreasing. 

Image. https://www.soils.org/about-soils/green-roofs/

Citations

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/pdf/publications/New%20York%20City’s%20Roadmap%20to%2080%20x%2050.pdf

Citations:

https://www.aia.org/articles/6074306-four-ways-architects-can-fight-climate-cha
https://www.eesi.org/topics/built-infrastructure/description

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_building https://en.klimatilpasning.dk/sectors/buildings/climate-change-impact-on-buildings/#:~:text=A%20milder%20climate%20will%20reduce,the%20indoor%20climate%20of%20buildings.&text=Higher%20groundwater%20levels%2C%20higher%20water,buildings%20against%20seepage%20and%20flooding

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