How can we make our buildings green?

There are a number of ways to make a building green. These include:

Taking an intelligent approach to energy

  • Minimising energy use in all stages of a building’s life-cycle, making new and renovated buildings more comfortable and less expensive to run, and helping building users learn to be efficient too. 

  • Integrating renewable and low-carbon technologies to supply buildings’ energy needs, once their design has maximised inbuilt and natural efficiencies. 


Safeguarding water resources

  • Exploring ways to improve drinking and waste water efficiency and management, harvesting water for safe indoor use in innovative ways, and generally minimising water use in buildings.
  • Considering the impact of buildings and their surroundings on stormwater and drainage infrastructure, ensuring these are not put under undue stress or prevented from doing their job. 


Minimising waste and maximising reuse

  • Using fewer, more durable materials and generating less waste, as well as accounting for a building’s end of life stage by designing for demolition waste recovery and reuse. 

  • Engaging building users in reuse and recycling. 


Promoting health and wellbeing

  • Bringing fresh air inside, delivering good indoor air quality through ventilation, and avoiding materials and chemicals that create harmful or toxic emissions.
  • Incorporating natural light and views to ensure building users’ comfort and enjoyment of their surroundings, and reducing lighting energy needs in the process.
  • Designing for ears as well as eyes. Acoustics and proper sound insulation play important roles in helping concentration, recuperation, and peaceful enjoyment of a building in educational, health and residential buildings.
  • Ensuring people are comfortable in their everyday environments, creating the right indoor temperature through passive design or building management and monitoring systems.

Keeping our environment green

  • Recognising that our urban environment should preserve nature, and ensuring diverse wildlife and land quality are protected or enhanced, by, for example, remediating and building on polluted land or creating new green spaces.
  • Looking for ways we can make our urban areas more productive, bringing agriculture into our cities.

Creating resilient and flexible structures

  • Adapting to our changing climate, ensuring resilience to events such as flooding, earthquakes or fires so that our buildings stand the test of time and keep people and their belongings safe. 

  • Designing flexible and dynamic spaces, anticipating changes in their use over time, and avoiding the need to demolish, rebuild or significantly renovate buildings to prevent them becoming obsolete. 


Connecting communities and people  

  • Creating diverse environments that connect and enhance communities, asking what a building will add to its context in terms of positive economic and social effects, and engaging local communities in planning.
  • Ensuring transport and distance to amenities are considered in design, reducing the impact of personal transport on the environment, and encouraging environmentally friendly options such as walking or cycling.
  • Exploring the potential of both ‘smart’ and information communications technologies to communicate better with the world around us, for example through smart electricity grids that understand how to transport energy where and when it is needed.

Considering all stages of a building's life-cycle

  • Seeking to lower environmental impacts and maximise social and economic value over a building's whole life-cycle (from design, construction, operation and maintenance, through to renovation and eventual demolition).
  • Ensuring that embodied resources, such as the energy or water used to produce and transport the materials in the building are minimised so that buildings are truly low impact.