An intro to Green Buildings
Aquick lesson from architect Hsieh Ying-jun.
By Joe Richard Tsou Translated by Ann Lee
Photos provide by Live Forever Construction Co. Ltd.
Though it's been a hot topic recently, the idea of "green" building design and architecture is nothing new. Back in 1980, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) brought up the concept of sustainable development and stated an explicit need for more efficient building techniques and better use of resources.
Building "green" is not just a fad that will surely leave center stage as quickly as it came. Employing environmentally responsible practices is necessary in today's world, which has limited resources and an ever-increasing population. So what exactly does a "green building" in Taiwan mean? Here are a couple of eco-friendly building basics, brought to us by local architect Hsieh Ying-jun.
1) Get innovative with biological resources. By using plants that are locally grown and available, buildings can go green from the rooftop down. A "living roof", which utilizes plants, can help reduce heat in hot weather and help insulate buildings in the winter. An outdoor pool or fountain can collect rainwater, which can then be used to irrigate plants
2) Reduce waste. When designing green buildings, architects need to keep in mind building materials. All materials should be post-consumer products, recyclable, or re-usable. Ideally, sustainable material is lightweight, compact and strong, such as fly ash based bricks and recycled wood, instead of reinforced concrete and cement, which releases harmful chemicals.
3) Use energy efficiently: Good planning can result in a maximized potential for natural lighting, instead of artificial light sources. Good builders take advantage of screens and curtains to help lower indoor temperature, high-efficiency solar powered LED lights, and conventional gas-fired power generators. Using fresh, natural air through fans uses less energy and is healthier than AC for indoor plant life.
4) Keep customer health in mind. Green designers avoid using toxic building materials, create rooms with more airflow, and utilize plants to lessen the amount of carbon dioxide within. They also set up systems to recycle rain water, responsibly dispose of dirty water, and remove waste residue and other garbage.
Hsieh is a local architect who was involved in the 921 earthquake reconstruction plan. He is known for incorporating the traditional building design of the Thao aboriginal tribe into his own work. Hsieh was also appointed by the Chinese government to help head their post-Sichuan earthquake reconstruction plans. He is a large proponent of green building and urges people to explore eco-friendly practices.