Going green is much more than a trendy notion. It is modern day sustainability in the age of climate change. The Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, in Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood, is just one of the many awe-inspiring examples on display in this midwest mecca. Enhancing students’ education and building efficiency are the school’s green features, which include a 34,000-square-foot vegetated roof replete with walkways and a plaza. The newly built school is a modern, jaw-dropping 207,00 square foot masterpiece and a harbinger of great things to come.
Chicago also has enjoyed the expansion of numerous ‘green building’ projects as many public school buildings, libraries, police, fire and other city buildings have benefitted from what began back in the early 1990’s under Chicago mayor Richard Daley’s determination to make the city greener. Ultimately, greener design leads to reduced energy consumption as well healthier naturally-filtered air due to the increased use of plants.
Plants naturally filter the air of harmful chemicals and other toxins. Plants in building spaces additionally combat SBS (sick building syndrome), boost humidity levels which decrease dry, cough-inducing air. Rooms filled with plants were shown to have 50%-60% fewer molds and bacteria in the air than in rooms without. The mere presence of plants and nature harkens pleasant memories of old like the tropical excursion or family reunion in a large sunny expanse of park, simultaneously soothing the soul and the body.
Toxins, molds and bacteria are absorbed into the soil and plant leaves. They are typically translocated downward into the plants’ roots and consumed as plant food or destroyed through a process known as “metabolic breakdown” as has been demonstrated in scientific studies. Tove Fjeld, university professor in Oslo, Norway conducted a study in which plants were shown to have improved employee health in schools, offices and hospitals. Offices containing plants demonstrated a reduction of employee ailments such as sore throat, headaches, dry skin and fatigue compared to offices without plants. The offices containing plants had shown a 23% reduction in employee ailments.
Some More Environmental Benefits
Green design is an approach to building with sustainability as the focal point. Recycling rainwater and grey water for the use of irrigation and urinals and toilet flushes helps to conserve water. Storm water runoff leads to erosion, flooding and transports pollutants into water sources. By harvesting and redirecting storm water, building surfaces with permeable materials and utilizing green roofs and exterior green walls can ultimately limit and control overflow.
Green building design, enhanced with climate-cooling plants, offsets the heat retaining properties of tall buildings as well as other numerous urban structures which are the primary culprits of causing what is known as the ‘heat island effect.’
Economic Benefits of The Green Building Movement
Green buildings provide numerous economic advantages. Green buildings exert less demand on the local power grid and water supply, stretching the capacity of local infrastructure. Emphasizing increased natural lighting as well as control of ventilation and temperature-attributes, plant-rich properties improve employee health thus leading to decreased employee absences.
Increased attention is being paid to global climate change and the need for renewable energy sources. The field of building design and construction is moving toward sustainability as a permanent goal. As of July 2007, 23 states and more than 80 cities have legislated green standards for municipal buildings. Building green is not only an aesthetically pleasing alternative to the inefficiencies of yesteryear. It is a public health issue of increased paramount importance and ultimately a sound fiscal investment in our future.
Visit our interactive Biophilia website to see how your business can utilize nature-inspired design.
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