According to a report released recently by researchers led by Princeton University, cities will become hot spots during a heatwave as a result of a combination of impenetrable, concrete surfaces and lack of moisture in the surrounding areas. The researchers studied how heatwaves would interact with 50 North American cities until 2100, and found that by building “green” buildings – or at least, buildings with “green”" roofs – natural vegetation can mitigate some of the heat that's being trapped in cities.

Green buildings“Our findings underscore the importance of implementing heat-mitigation strategies today. They also highlight the need for more studies of this nature, to give us a better idea of the cities and landscapes that are most affected now and also under additional greenhouse warming,” says co-lead author Michael Oppenheimer, Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at the Princeton Environmental Institute.

However, Paragon Media Manager Hugh Fraser says that the challenge facing green building in South Africa focuses on convincing clients that many of the additional costs associated with sustainable design are recouped within a fairly short period of time. He points out that this mindset is changing fairly quickly as tenants increasingly demand that buildings are either Green Star rated, or at least designed according to sustainable design principles.

He says that there are a number of design interventions that can be made early on with minimal cost, but which will have immediate benefits. These include motion detectors on lights, LED lighting, improved waste recovery, and recycled grey water consumption, either through rainwater recovery or showers, basins, and sinks.

However, Fraser cautions that green design can be “a law of diminishing return as one approaches high-cost benefits for perhaps a reduced recovery, as for example with high-performance glazing. Every aspect requires input from a specialised designer.”

He adds that another factor that clients need to consider is that a green rating increases a building’s value. South Africa shares the Green Star rating tool with Australia and New Zealand, as well as a few other African countries. This is one of a number of tools used globally, including US-based LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and UK-based BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method). These operate in the same basic way, attaching points for sustainable design, construction, and performance.

“Certainly, a Green Star rated building, or at least a sustainably-designed building, would increase its value, because running costs are likely to be lower. It is more difficult to convince a client to convert from 4 Green Star to 6 Green Star, but fortunately there are enlightened clients out there,” Fraser concludes.

Image credit: Copyright: steuccio79 / 123RF Stock Photo


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