Sustainable Building

Green Building Principles Your Architect Should Tell You About

In order to successfully deliver any project, architects must scrutinize every detail of their projects, from concept to completion. Keeping the client informed and up-to-date on every aspect of the project and asking the right questions to keep the project on track is crucial.

Managing the client’s expectations while also driving the project vision and achieving the desired result is no small feat. Clients need to understand the green building principles that will influence their building and how the projects will ultimately achieve its sustainability goals. This article explores the green building principles that architects need to tell their clients about when building a green building.

Location Implications from Going Green


Location, location, location! A time old adage that is synonymous with good building design, desirability and economic value. A great location can elevate a good building to spectacular heights.

Green City

When it comes to green building principles and green design, each country and city has its own particular green building culture.Factors such as politics, the regulatory environment and partisanship significantly influences the rate at which some cities adopt sustainable building practices and initiatives. This can have a positive or negative effect on the supply chain, influencing what materials and equipment architects have at their disposal.

The Hong Kong Green Building Council, as reported in the South China Morning Post, found that there has been a significant increase in green building projects registered. Starting with a mere 11 in 2010 and jumping to 109 in 2011 and 194 in 2012.

Council chairman Conrad Wong Tin-cheung said Hong Kong would soon have even more green buildings, as the government was considering requiring the new developments in Kai Tak and West Kowloon to attain the second highest level of the green building rating. In 2011 the city implemented the BEAM Pluscertification which aims to reduce the environmental impact of new buildings while improving environmental quality and user satisfaction. Since it implementation of 140 new projects have been registered.

Cities like Hong Kong, support the green building movement and promote green building principles and that is extremely beneficial for architects who benefit from a more established eco-friendly supply chain.

The topic of location from this stand point is an important discussion point when clients propose new green projects.


Climate Influences Green Building Design


Climate, like location, is a very important consideration and discussion point when planning a green build.

climate Influences

The different regions in the world experience vastly different climates. From hurricanes, drought, mudslides, tsunami’s, snow and everything in between, each place presents a new set of challenges.

The ultimate factor for green architects to consider is how well materials and the design align to help reduce energy consumptionand keep the carbon footprint of the building as low as possible.

According to the Green Building City Market Brief from the Hong Kong Green Building Council, the building sector accounts for approximately 90% of Hong Kong’s total electricity consumption.

Architects need to guide clients as to the feasibility of certain green initiatives such as solar or wind turbine power, radiant heating and cooling and waste water management, given a certain geographic location.


Durability of Green Strategies


Durability is poses a rather complex set of issues for green buildings. It does not just include the expected

life span of a building but also the life expectancy and performance of the environmentally sustainable technologyused within the construction.

Renewable Energy

According to the US Green Building Council, in the Insight Technical Report, durability consists of 3 main aspects:

  • Service life
  • Durability
  • Life cycle performance

The selection and implementation of specific strategies has significant implications for long term performance. The following example used in The Green Building Information Gateway, stated that when considering rain harvesting solutions, a rain barrel has a service life of 20-30 years while a more capital intensive could perform predictable for 50 or more years. Both strategies contribute to the building sustainability, but yield vastly different results over time.

Architects need to make clients aware of the various strategic options and try align the sustainability goals of their clients with the appropriate eco-friendly solution.


Financial Incentives for Green Buildings


Financial Incentives

Financial incentives for building green cannot be ignored. An article published in the  journal called the Green Building Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews Incentives, states that these incentives come in a myriad of forms:

  • Tax incentives
  • Rebates
  • Discounted development application fees
  • Grants

According to the Green Buildings Incentives, the Malaysian government announced the Green Technology Financing Scheme (GTFS) in 2010. The scheme provided a soft loan to attract innovators and users of green technology. As a result there has been an increasing trend of companies going green, with the rate of green building certification in Malaysia rising from 1 in 2009 to 137 in 2013.

Both architect and owner can benefit significantly from these types of incentives and should factor them into the cost and contract discussions before moving ahead with the project.


Factors Influencing Green Buildings


Architects need to understand the factors that influence their projects and need to guide their clients through this process. Understanding the location and climate that impacts the building can help enhance the overall design while keeping abreast of the latest sustainability trends and financial incentives provided by local government will be beneficial for both client and architect.

There are countless technological, regulatory and financial proponents to going green and architects who manage to stay abreast of these factors will find themselves in a much better position to execute and achieve their clients’ wishes.


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