Many people are under the impression that designing a building is solely based on the esthetics and making the building either just functional or attractive and although the esthetics play a big role there are many more elements that are incorporated when designing a space. For several years the Earth’s climate system has been affected in a significant way and it has come to a point where it is required for everyone to contribute in order to restore the environment before it is too late. There are many ways someone can contribute from the simplest way of changing their light bulb type to the construction of a whole building. There is a great debate between people whether global warming is real or not however scientist have proven that the planet is progressively becoming warmer as time continues to pass. This paper will focus on how Interior designers can contribute to the restoration of the Earth’s climate system by using more natural elements that prevent carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from being released and getting trapped in the atmosphere which is how the heat is being retained, causing the Earth to become warmer. Sustainable materials reduce the amount of material that end up in landfills, and the amount of raw material gathered each year. The climate change everyone is experiencing is real and as much as politicians want to deny it the evidence and results are in the environment which have gotten worst with time, however many people who are concerned have found several solutions. As Interior designers and Architects there are several ways to help restore the environment, one of the most significant ways is to design Green and LEED certified buildings.
The construction industry has been making a significant impact in the recent years to transform successful businesses into complete LEED buildings. LEED Certification stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a professional certification and a grading scale on the environmental impact and sustainability of the structure of a building. What makes these types of constructions LEED projects is the sustainability materials being used which help regulate building emissions and carbon footprint. Utilizing green practices comes with several benefits which allows current and future generations the ability to improve their health and resources. Before LEED there was Green Building and when LEED was introduced it changed up the expectations by introducing standard codes. LEED design is the process of producing buildings that conserve resources and reduces pollution and helps against global warming. LEED is also a process that reduces operating cost and improves marketability and durability. LEED design helps preserve the ozone layer and has proved to improve employee productivity. The launch of LEED design aimed to transform the construction of commercial buildings. LEED buildings allow the owners to obtain the required tools to receive immediate effect on the building’s performance.
There are four different levels of certification that can be reached. The levels of certification are, Silver, Gold, and Platinum and each level has its own purpose. A building can gain a higher rank based on how many credits are accumulated. In order to accumulate credits building owners must have certain standards included in their projects and must benefit the environment, such as reducing water wastage and energy consumption. The selection of materials and resources used also need to meet requirements. Green building and LEED certification is a worldwide movement that is encouraging leading countries to adopt this design. According to Leticia McCadden from USGBC states that there is a list of countries that are making major advances in sustainable building design. These countries are listed as The United States, China, Brazil, Emirates, Sweden, Turkey, India, Germany, Korea, Canada and India.
McCadden also states in the article, “Announces International Ranking of Top 10 Countries for LEED” in USGBC that countries such as the ones mentioned represent the current increase in international petition for LEED-certified green buildings. China is currently listed as the prime user of LEED with 34.62 million square meters of certified LEED area bumping them to first place on the list. The top five following China are listed as India, Korea, Canada and Brazil. Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of USGBC says “By recognizing these leading countries, we are showcasing the exponential growth of LEED in the global marketplace and an international commitment to the creation of a sustainable built environment,”.
For several years many believed that Global warming was just a hoax but as scientist continue to provide evidence of the increasing of the temperatures and the detrimental affect it is causing many that were resisting the change are making changes in their businesses and contributing to the construction of green buildings. With the construction of green buildings not only is it helping out the environment, but it is also providing jobs to many in the field. Green building is extremely important for various reasons one being that the structure of the building provides a foundation for all types of daily activities like entertainment, education, housing, healthcare and the list goes on. It has become a given that majority of human activities are contributing to climate change and has become the most influential factor of the increase of greenhouse gasses to 70% from the 70’s to the 2000’s according to Jonathan Overpeck (Jeannyffer Campos’s Research Blog). There have been several different approaches that have been proposed to slow down climate change with the hope of reversing the damage. However, it seems that all anthropocentric has caused minimal concern and the importance of building and materials of structure has been neglected for too long. Perhaps if the importance of the building material was taken more serious green buildings would make an even bigger impacts, but would it be enough to make a change in global climate change? It has actually been proven that in present time building segments are contributing significantly to the increase of global greenhouse gasses as much as one third of overall greenhouse gasses and is currently consuming 40% of global energy.
Many people still believe that climate change is simply a hoax and refuse to contribute with the restoration of the environment but the effect building sectors have on climate change are becoming more obvious as time continues to pass. Building sectors are even being labeled as the main source of greenhouse gasses emissions. Aside from benefiting the climate and reducing greenhouse gasses, designing green building also helps communities and creates jobs opportunities for many. By adopting this concept, neighborhoods will be given long term positive environment effects. The construction of Green Buildings and LEED certified buildings not only benefit the environment and reduce the negative climate change but also improves the economy and helps revitalize neighborhoods and cities that need improvement.
It is very beneficial when building projects are forced to meet certain requirements to obtain certification because it forces businesses to be held accountable for promoting their contributions to the environment. It also forces designers and consumers to make better and educated decisions about what they consume, buy and support. Allowing a building project to obtain LEED certification also sends out a message about where their company’s value stand and the shows their concern for the environment. Many often ask themselves why is LEED certification so important? The answer is simply yes. Obtaining certification is very rewarding and comes with certain benefits such as access to professional technical support, an extended range of marketing benefits, and possible the most important which is that the design and construction team will not be able to take any short cuts or find loop holes with green building requirements. LEED certification promotes direction and guidance for those who want to contribute to the restoration of global climate and sends out the message that the building project will be water and energy efficient while also providing a comfortable and healthy environment for consumers.
People often assume that green building and LEED certification is the same thing and although LEED certification does mean the building has been green built the requirements for LEED are more demanding as to green building their requirements are a lot more flexible since there aren’t any industry standards for the design concept. One of the benefits from LEED certification is also the positive impact it has on the employees. According to a survey released from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), employees who work in a LEED environment are more productive, happier and most important healthier in comparison to employees working in a non-LEED building. The (USGBC) survey also states that most employees prefer to work for value-oriented companies that take a stance for global tribulations and take value into sustainability and contribute to making a positive impact worldwide. The CEO of USGBC Mahesh Ramanujam says that, “Employees know that green building programs like LEED help companies to develop responsible, sustainable and specific plans for green energy, water, waste, transportation and many other factors accountable for the human experience,”.
When people are seeking new employment a significant amount of people determine if they want to work for a company based on what their work environment will be like and if their work space will be a part of a LEED certified building rather than a workspace in a regular building. The percentage of employees that claim to be satisfied with their work space and duties work in LEED-certified building and even claim that they would prefer to always work in a LEED building instead of a non-LEED building and creating a positive work space can help reduce the depression and suicidal rates as well.
Some believe that Interior Designers focus only in the aesthetic of a building however an Interior designer focuses on several different aspects when designing a space. Interior designers often design spaces that improve productivity and health. Designers make the effort to provide employees with a space that encourages wellness with clean and the best indoor quality air possible. These design elements often influence employee’s mood and makes them feel happy and productive. When the work space allows natural sunlight and employees to get an outdoor view their overall productivity increases significantly and has been proven that employees are a lot happier. The list of benefits is extensive which includes using less water, energy and other natural resources. Green buildings and LEED certified buildings generate less waste and saves 30-40% of daily energy. It also lowers operating costs and helps to increase value to the property.
The Suzlon One Earth, Pune project is a perfect example on how to incorporate all the elements mentioned above. The project was built by architect Christopher Charles Benninger, landscape designer was Ravi and Varsha Gavandi, structural designer was Santhosh, Vastech and the interior designer was Space matrix. The project is located in Pune Maharashtra, India and was completed in 2009. The project received LEED platinum ratings in 2010. The concept of the architect was named “Office in the Garden” which the whole project extended over 10 acres making this massive structure one of the largest green buildings in the world and was also one of the first LEED buildings in the country. The project performance targets several areas but one of the most significant one is Energy, regulating carbon neutrals through its on-site and off-site energy generators. Produces zero net energy for lighting through their onsite generators also. The project includes a positive life cycle cost of the overall investments that were used. The project also incorporated envelope performance which minimizes heat gain by 40% than regular systems and uses 100% shade glazing during heated summers allowing natural ventilation to flow and transition through each space. Also, solar panels and insulated green roofs were major features incorporated in the project.
Overall there are several different approaches that can be beneficial to the restoration of the global climate and can result in a more positive and healthier life style. Changing up the strategies can also help improve people’s daily life activities and their surroundings as well. People can improve their life style and wellness while also improving the environment and climate change. Some of the most damaging roles can be reversed if consumers changed their approach and adopted different strategies the improvements would be major. There can be so many strategies that can be used during building construction to continue constant change for the climate.