What is Green Architecture?

If you have ever heard of green architecture you probably know that it is growing in popularity in the grander scheme of architecture in 2019 and beyond.

Given this growing trend of green architecture, you may be wondering: 

So what exactly is green architecture, and how is it used? 

What are the pros and cons of green architecture? 

What is the cost of green architecture?

What are some primary examples of green architecture developments in real life?

What does the future of green architecture look like?

In this article we will cover answers to all of the above, and more! 

What is green architecture?

When paradise comes up in everyday conversations, chances are no one's talking about urban farming. ‘Paradise’ as an idyllic, utopian place is a fairly new spin on the term. But surprisingly, the Persians of the 600’s BC used the phrase originally to refer to their parks and gardens kept enclosed within massive walls.

This was the earliest known concept of “green architecture as we know it today” The word has been coopted by other languages to refer to anything from metropolitan orchards, private hunting grounds, and even the Garden of Eden, but the term would be more apt in a conversation about the vegetable patches on rooftops and balconies in contemporary, smoggy Athens and New York.

 Most urban gardens, from Rome’s fabled Gardens of Sallust to the produce growing on a someone’s balcony, all lack one characteristic: integration.

A flowerpot on a roof doesn't integrate the natural with the unnatural.The field of architecture can take the ideal of sustainability into new and exciting places by uniting steel and nature.

The highest point of sustainable architecture (literally) is the green roof, now a global phenomenon, which offers pragmatic benefits to problems in the short term but can just as easily present the key to easing the burden of raising sustenance in a future permanently altered by climate change.   

At their simplest, green roofs consist of a waterproof barrier under a layer of 4”-6” of soil, planted with beneficial shrubs.These shrubs must be able to stand the extremes of weather to give benefits like rainwater absorption, heat and cold mitigation during summer and winter, soundproofing from outside noise, etc.

Generally, they tend to be a bit more spartan than say any vegetable or flower gardens on the ground level (but they by no means have to be). They really only need grasses to soak up the sun’s rays to lower the cost of cooling the building.

Plants in their own individual pots and lined up in a row are not going to absorb enough sunlight to remotely keep energy consumption lower in the summertime or insulate the edifice during the winter, if at all.

Pros and Cons of Green Architecture: 

The pros of green architecture:
- positive environmental impact
- beautiful design
- decreases building upkeep and maintenance costs

The cons of green architecture:
- high upfront investment
- unknown unknowns: issues can arise that were not anticipated due to this architectural style only recently becoming so widely popular
- actual impact can be exaggerated

Now that we have discussed some basic pros and cons of green architecture, lets get to some examples of green architecture.

Examples of Green Architecture:
Green roofs aren’t difficult to find, especially in urban areas. One prominent example is in Chicago, Illinois on top of City Hall.

The head of green projects for the City of Chicago, Michael Berkshire, claims that its green roof saves the building $5,000 annually on utility bills.While a world-class city’s civic government has nigh-infinite funding for green projects at its disposal, the concepts are the same for amateurs and professionals. Whether the roof’s area is 20,300 feet ^ 2, the Greenery’s weight (including its soil and waterproofing) must be carefully calculated, and how many layers a new green roof needs to best retain rainwater for the plants but also keep roots healthy should be considered.

City Hall’s green roof has other features such as beehives and an irrigation system, which are not out of the realm of the possibility for new growers, although the care of live bees and the harvesting of their honey aren’t exactly things one can just try with no experience or research. 

Green Architecture is a growing trend across the world, especially in urban areas.

With investment set to increase annually in green architecture, how will it develop it and change in the future? 

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