Sustainable Architecture: Benefits and Drawbacks


Research studies show that when using green architecture, the ecosystem flourishes by providing clean water, air, a healthy living environment, better living standards and the adversarial effects of environmental pollutants that result from the use of traditional building technologies are reduced. Green architecture is achieved by use of recyclable materials from those materials that have a recyclable content, cost effective building technologies, and better storm water management methods, reduced construction costs, and increase of the lifecycle of the green building. Green architecture comes with different risks that include the use of big financial budgets, loss of tax incentives, and market risks. However, the depletion of the ozone layer causes environmental problems that include global warming and the resulting effects of storm water. However, there is need to consider effective design solutions to avoid greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by processing and use of virgin material for the construction industry.

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Green architecture is an emerging concept that has been adopted in the construction industry because the concept embraces the use of green building material and principle that lead to the reduction of the adverse effects on the environment and enables the ecosystem to thrive. The use of materials with recyclable content such as steel facilitates the preservation of the environment, however the use of traditional construction methods lead to an inefficient use of building materials, high energy consumption, high environmental degradation, and higher emissions that lead to environmental warming effects. The global warming effects have created a sting impact on cities with a lot of surface runoff water that leads to the need for storm water management systems. To address the problem, green architecture allows for construction methods that leave the surface vegetation intact and allows the vegetation to flourish. It is important for the construction industry to adopt green architecture because green architecture has been shown to increase the value of the buildings that is referred to increase in asset value.

However, the overall energy consumption of a green building is low and because of the use of green technology, it is possible for energy to be trapped in a green building as heat energy ant that could make the inhabitants uncomfortable. To address the situation, green architecture allows for the use of the design and development principles that lead to high lifecycle savings, high occupant productivity, better quality life and environment, and overall better living conditions. However, green architecture is not without risks that include high financial loss especially for those green architecture buildings because the value of a green building is lower than that constructed with traditional methods, high market risks, and building performance risks. Despite the depletion of ozone layer, the benefits are worth motivating the adoption of green architecture.

Sustainable architecture

Sustainable architecture has environmental, economic and social benefits. The ecosystem flourishes because it is developed using ecological design principles that enable effective resource utilization to minimise the impact of construction development activities. Guy and Farmer (2001, p.8) affirms that natural and renewable resources are used to avoid environmental degradation activities so that the current levels of natural resources are maintained and sustained. Material such as wood are selected and used in a sustainable manner to avoid the destruction of the environment and to ensure that they are handled and accessed in a noninterference manner to the environment. The use of steel that has high recyclable properties and content is given a higher priority than wood when selecting green materials because they a low recyclable content. However, “habitat destruction, waste generation, energy, and air and water pollution are minimized with reduced use of virgin resources.

Energy is saved in the processing and manufacture of new materials as primary processing steps are often eliminated with use of recycled materials” (Guy & Farmer, 2001, p.9). It has been shown that “green architecture enables the ecosystems flourish because of non-interference with the environment and nature” (Guy & Farmer, 2001, p.23). Environmental user friendly materials for sustainable architecture include wind power and ecofriendly building materials and construction methods. The material can be recycled for component manufacturing from virgin or recycled resources. The “ideal green material might be a natural, renewable, local and indigenous, nontoxic, low embodied energy material such as willow cuttings for slope stabilization or rammed earth for a retaining wall” (Guy & Farmer, 2001, p.9). Recycled materials can be created from reclaimed materials, scrap products, and other waste materials as feedstock for green construction. The asset value that is achieved when green architecture is used for the construction of green buildings is high.

Good sustainable design can help fix many economic issues. The principles that guarantee a good quality environment include good maintenance of the building by ensuring that the building is always kept clean in its operational lifecycle. Martinez (2009, p.18) confirms that “construction of a building, green architecture ensures that the design of the green building is consistent with the principles that guarantee a good quality internal environment. It is agreed that “green buildings attract a 2% upfront investment and provide lifecycle savings of up to 20% of the initial investment costs” (Martinez, 2009, p. 18). To fully realize the benefits, implementing green architecture relies on the relative importance of the potential impact caused by green construction materials because it is important to carefully consider the spatial impact of green building materials when used for construction purposes” (McLeod, 1989, p.15).

The quality of air and water in a green building can be assured by the careful use of green building materials and to ensure high productivity of the occupants. Martinez (2009, 12) upholds the idea that indoor air quality pollutants are more than five times the quality of air in the external environment. Volatile organic compounds inducing asbestos have serious health implications on the occupants when taken in high concentrations. Martinez (2009, p.13) notes that the inside of a building produces different chemicals that include volatile organic compounds that are generated from building materials that include cleaning materials, new furniture, inorganic gases, particulate materials, and microbial volatile organic compounds. The performance specifications of the building have to be defined in accordance with the green building commissioning acts. Other issues to consider include ventilation controls to ensure that the inhabitants get clean indoor quality air and source control to ensure that the pollutants that come from the outside of the building are controlled. The use of green technology creates systems that are water efficient because the amount of energy and water usage decreases significantly.

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Green design also has societal, as well as health, benefits. Green architecture solutions generate less dust based on the use of building strategies that include good maintenance and construction standards that reduce the concentration of health causing particles that include allergies and asthma symptoms. Young Lee (2014, p.12) reasons that the occupants experience positive behavioral changes by embracing recycling, invest in energy efficient technologies, purchase and use green products, lead pleasant and productive lives, and experience a positive overall well-being. Using econ-friendly architecture creates many social benefits to the occupants of the green building that includes happiness, good quality of life, high life expectancy, and improved communal health levels” (Young Lee, 2014, p.19). Dust is “filtered from the air to eliminate indoor smoke, control the humidity of the air, reduce noise pollution and traffic congestion” (Young Lee, 2014, p.12) with a recent study of green buildings showing that “indicates that, they had 33% less carbon emissions, 27% higher occupant satisfaction, used up to 45% less energy, experienced 13% lower aggregate maintenance costs and used up to 54% less water when compared to national averages” (Young Lee (2014, p.19).

Ellison (2007, p.23) argues that pollution passes through “sound paths that include ceilings, room partitions, acoustic ceiling panels (such as wood dropped ceiling panels), doors, windows, flanking, ducting and other penetrations” (Young Lee, 2014, p.28). When compared with non-green buildings, the return on investment is assured, operating costs are lower, and revenue growth can be assured. MacKenzie (1993, p.34) asserts that green buildings increase asset valuation, lower annual utilities per an occupant, lower communicable diseases; provide higher energy savings, and profits that are consistent with the profit needs of business organisations in the construction industry. Water efficiencies can be achieved in water treatment and equipment usage, water reuse, effective plumbing fixtures, use of vegetated green roofs, cooling towers, and landscape irrigation. Energy conservation resulting from the use of green architecture is achieved by the use of green roof systems that provide effective green roof insulation to achieve high thermal performance of buildings use the roof.

Sustainable architecture has also been argued to involve some risks. Sustainable architecture has some risks that include retrofitting existing buildings to ensure that compliance to green standards is achieved. Wasley (20007, p.12) describes the major risks to include inconsistent and inexperienced team members, inability to determine and establish performance measures, and to establish and implement the correct cost benchmarks. Financial risks include ineffective structured financial budgets, loss of tax incentives, inability to predict return on investment, unpredictable green issues not previously encountered, and loss of financial gain. Market risks, poor comprehension of green building energy efficiency, lack of enough education, poor supply chain management issues, and green building performance risks (Wasley, 20007, p.12). Additional environmental benefits that lead to societal, environmental, and economic benefits include the use of green roofs to reduce the temperature of the building and energy for cooling the room. energy efficient building designs that optimise the heating and lighting gains from the sun that reduces the need for space heating, cooling, and lighting needs” (Wasley, 20007, p.29).

Research studies show that depleting the ozone layer increases adverse impacts on the environment and green architecture reduces congestion, noise, and other disturbances. Here, the use of solar energy for electricity, efficient designs assure the occupants of high quality indoor air that assures the occupants of good health. The internal design of a building is made with balanced ventilations, tight building envelopes, ventilation fans and filters by the use of green materials. That is because “green construction techniques are cheap and within the reach of those with low income and on efficient water usage for the construction and building activities” (McLeod, 1989, p.23). The tight building envelope includes the use of sealing every part of a building to ensure that low energy losses occur, use of spray foam insulation, and caulking around windows and doors. The use of green architecture acts as a source of greenhouse gases that deplete the ozone layer, but careful design solutions provide better solutions to the problem of emissions from green buildings that deplete the ozone layer. Here, the underlying solutions are in the green architecture design solutions.


In conclusion, green architecture is crucial as a modern building technology because it has been demonstrated that using the technology reduces environmental degradation. Materials such as wood cannot be used in a sustainable manner because wood does not have renewable components. However, material such as steel can be used for renewable purposes because steel contains renewable components. Studies conclude that recyclable materials can be used for green construction that provide many benefits that include storm water management, efficient and good quality water usage, good indoor air quality, optimal use of energy, and improved health of the people. Despite financial, market, performance, green risks, architecture provides a better quality living and ecofriendly environment. In addition, the construction costs of the principles of green ensure low cost operational and insurance premiums are incurred by the users. However, the green buildings are usually energy efficient making green architecture the option to go for.


Ellison, K. (2007). Constructive change on global warming. Ecology And The Environment, 5(3), 168

Guy, S. & Farmer, G. (2001). Reinterpreting sustainable architecture. The Place Of Technology, 54 (3). 140-148.

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Martinez, M. (2009). Becoming green. The Phi Delta Kappan, 91(3), 74-75.

McLeod, M. (1989). Architecture and politics in the Reagan era. Assemblage, 8 (1), 22-59.

Ocampo, J. (2010). The Transition to a Green Economy. Benefits, Challenges and Risks from a Sustainable Development. Second Preparatory Committee Meeting for United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, 1 (1), 1-10

Palmer, A.H. (1917). Climatic influences on architecture. The Scientific Monthly, 5 (3), 270-283

Wasley, J. (2000). Safe houses and green architecture. Reflections on the Lessons of Chemically Sensitive, 53 (4), 207-215.

Young Lee, P. (1997). Modern architecture and ideology of influence. Assemblage, 34(1), 6-29.

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