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     an introduction to green buildings      


an introduction to green buildings


Until recent years, South Africa enjoyed some of the cheapest and most reliable electricity in the world. However, with growing demand and a lack of maintenance and good planning procedures, our electricity has become both more expensive, and less reliable. The large increases in the cost of electricity and the potential for blackouts due to overloading have prompted building owners to attempt to reduce the amount of electricity consumed by each building. These events have also been coupled with a world-wide drive for industry and commerce to become more “green” in an attempt to reduce power consumption and thus emissions.
Whilst the need for energy conservation is paramount to any development in South Africa at this time, the sustainable building concept encompasses much more than pure energy savings and includes the full built environment, including building structure and materials, building location, land use, ecology and transport infrastructure, potable water use and sewage and other emissions and finally, building design, management and innovation. Green buildings are low energy buildings (both in construction and operation) and are therefore more sustainable, i.e. utilise lower energy while producing reduced pollutants.


sustainable building design and building ecology

Sustainable design describes environmentally friendly design that minimises the impact of a building on the environment, however it is extremely important that it provides a background for its users that promotes well-being. Sustainability encourages the efficient utilisation of raw materials whilst minimising energy usage (inputs) and decreasing emissions (outputs). A sustainable building is therefore an energy efficient one, which exploits any source of renewable energy available to decrease emissions.
Building ecology is the interaction between building occupants, the built environment and the natural environment. The built environment may be broken down into three elements comprising the building fabric, the exterior space, and finally the technical installations. The selections thereof, and interactions between these elements, dictate the sustainability thus the energy consumption of the building.
Social responsibility dictates that sustainability of design and construction should be addressed when developing a new building. A sustainable building should lead to decreased operating costs, improved living areas and occupant health combined with a reduced impact on the environment. Although sustainable buildings are generally more expensive to build, the savings in consumption that they produce are large and reflect immediately. Each new building must be scrutinised to ensure that the best possible solution is achieved within specific budgets.

                 renewable energy                  


renewable energy

Renewable energy is energy generated from naturally replenished resources such as sunlight, wind, moving water and geothermal heat.

solar
Solar energy is produced by utilising either heat generated by the sun or sunlight. The use of heat as a solar energy source is extremely simple and cost effective, but is limited in terms of power production as no electricity is generated. Solar panels containing photovoltaics convert sunlight into electrical energy- this energy can either be stored in batteries for later use or converted immediately into 220V AC by an inverter for use by a consumer.

wind
Wind energy is produced by converting the kinetic energy of moving air to electrical energy through the implementation of a turbine.

hydro
Hydroelectric power is generated using the same principle as wind energy by converting the kinetic energy of moving water to electrical energy through the implementation of a turbine. This can be achieved by using either falling or fast moving water or through the motion of an object oscillating on a wave.

geothermal
The extreme pressures in the earth’s core generate large quantities of thermal energy. Furthermore, the earth acts as a large solar collector and heat can be extracted from the ground for heating or energy can be pumped passively into the earth for cooling with the aid of a geothermal heat pump.

biomass
Biomass harvests stored energy found in plant matter and animal waste to generate electricity or produce heat.





         green building assessment          


green building assessment


Rawlins Wales Cape is committed to a sustainable future and has undertaken to provide the necessary training to staff to become Green Star SA Accredited Professionals by early 2010. By implementing a green star building assessment approach, Rawlins Wales & Partners can provide sustainable and energy saving concepts from the initial feasibility stages of a project through to final completion and hand-over.


























greenstar

Rawlins Wales Cape is a member of the Green Building Council of South Africa