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We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims. The challenge is to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time, with spontaneous cooperation and without ecological damage or disadvantage of anyone.- R. Buckminster Fuller

Building green is a movement to improve the quality of design and construction processes of buildings and communities. On a scale of + or – 1500, underground architect and author, Malcolm Wells, charts nature at +1500 for: creating purer air and purer water, using rain water, producing own food, creating richer soil, using and storing solar energy, recycling, restoring silence, consuming waste, maintaining itself, providing wildlife and human habitat, moderating climate and weather, and being beautiful. A typical office building scores -1150!

The very basics of sustainable design are to build small, respect the site, provide healthy environments, conserve energy, choose local and renewable materials, conserve water, minimize waste, produce and store food, protect agricultural, cultural, and archaeological resources, and last, but not least, create beautiful buildings! Whew!

This is a big responsibility! By building green we can protect the natural world, have a positive impact on the environment, and improve quality of living! One way of going green is to retrofit existing buildings with more sustainable practices like green roofs, passive solar atriums, greenhouse air purifiers, geothermal, and wind power!

Go Green!

Activity 1 – How Green Is Your House?

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Passive solar energy, or the heat and warmth of the sun, is a useful everyday tool that can be important in designing a green building. Basically, hot air rises, so inside a building, we need air movement to keep cool. Having operable windows on at least two elevations of a building allows for a cross breeze, encourages air movement, and allows us to be comfortable without having to use energy to turn on fans or air conditioners. Designing for sunshine also means orienting the building so that there are a lot of windows on the south side to let sunshine in, and fewer windows on the north side where it can be colder in the winter. Analyze your building or house. Draw a plan of the first floor and locate your building’s orientation with a north arrow. Show the range of the sun from the morning to the night. Check out which windows are operable. Open windows on one side of the building, or on the first floor and on the second. See if you can feel a cross breeze! Next draw a section of your house. Show where air movement can improve ventilation. Label these drawings as plan and section and include them in your journal.

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Activity 2 – Buildings & Energy Use

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As cities across the world begin to acknowledge their carbon footprints, governments are looking at where energy is being used proportionately. It is relatively recent that the world’ population was heated and cooled. The wealthier countries are the countries that use the most energy. Many other countries do not have heating or cooling; some do not have electricity. Take a look at ARCHITECTURE 2030 to see the problems that the building industry contributes and seek the answers to those problems that are being tested. Make an infographic that shows energy use in the building industry around the world. Which country is making the best effort to lower their carbon footprint and to save energy? .

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Activity 3 – Research A Green Building

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Is there a green building in your city? Does your city have green initiatives? Look on the web under green buildings. Find a green building and list the important features that have improved on typical construction. Look at Building America, Energy Star, and LEED. Make an outline about the building’s green initiatives. Write a report with at least three paragraphs about: why building green is important, how your chosen building delivers green architecture, and finally how everyday living can be affected by green thinking.

Activity 4 – Research Green Building Practices

As architects look to create buildings that are responsive, lower carbon footprints, and create enduring and meaningful spaces, several national and international organizations are conducting research as to what constitutes best practices in green building. For this activity research two different organizations. Compare their goals and investigate their founders and leaders. Make an infographic poster that compares two organizations, their practices, impact, and network of influence. Take a look at the following Green Building Organizations:

Architecture 2030
Architecture 2030 Pallette
United States Green Building Council LEED Program
Passive Home
Living Building Challenge

Become a Green Builder!

Activity 5 – The Hannover Principles

Architect William McDonough and chemist, Michael Braungart were asked by the city of Hannover, Germany, to create design principles for the buildings of Expo 2000, The World’s Fair. Expo 2000’s theme, Humanity, Nature, and Technology, embraced ecological impact and sustainable design measures. The list of guiding principles became known as the Hannover Principles.

The guiding principles are as follows: 1.Insist on the right of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition. 2.Recognize interdependence. 3.Respect relationships between spirit and matter. 4.Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems and their right to co-exist. 5.Create safe objects of long-term value. 6.Eliminate the concept of waste. 7.Rely on natural energy flows. 8.Understand the limitations of design. 9.Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. This manifesto would be the first of many organizations working to change the construction to be more sustainable. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s*Building America*]( has been assessing and raising sustainable house construction standards for the last twenty five years. The studies shared ways to achieve better energy efficiency and performance with thicker wall construction, higher R value insulation, and comfort, durability, and affordability. Building America collaborates with industry contractors, builders, and manufacturers to research, develop, validate, and demonstrate energy saving projects. Energy Star stare rating more efficient appliances, and the United States Green Building COuncil started a point system to award buildings for measures to be more sustainable. In addition the Zero Net Homes, Passive Homes, and Well Being Homes.


  • Building green is always in the color green.
  • It is important to protect open land.
  • Buildings should be able to produce their own food.
  • Buildings should conserve energy and make use of natural energy sources.
  • Buildings should be built of any materials available.
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