Sunday, August 22, 2010

How Green Is Your Building’s Wood?

By Aashish Karode

How can architects, developers and builders know for sure that lumber for building their projects comes from sustainably managed forests? Sustainability is defined internationally as: meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising that ability for future generations. An ideal way to ensure that wood is harvested in an environmentally and socially responsible manner is to choose wood from a state with strong forest practice laws. Tough standards and regulatory oversight offer assurance that comprehensive rules are followed and enforced.

The environmental attributes of wood for construction of homes has been measured and found to be superior to alternatives such as steel and concrete. The United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program recognizes wood for green building, especially if it is grown within a few hundred miles of where it is grown. How green is your building's wood? Green comes in many shades. But architects, developers and builders can feel assured of sustainability using wood products that are locally grown and manufactured, and that are grown in places with stringent and comprehensive laws that govern the practice of forestry.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Directions for Living Roofs and Walls

The evolving technology of green roofs has been leading to the use of greater diversity in their designs. After years of implementing green roof designs, the international industry has seen a steady move towards more diversity in both elements of construction and plant materials. What is most fascinating of the improvement in green roof design is the use of plants on these roofs which, along with other naturally decomposing materials, aid in greater biodiversity. No longer are sedums the only plants that are being used on green roofs. At the EcoBuild Conference in London 2010, exhibits featured new green roof designs showing a greater use of ornamental grasses and other flowering plants including some bulbs.

Germany and Austria have been the leaders in green roofs for many decades now. In Linz, Austria, all new construction built after 1985 must have a green roof installed on it. The change has been remarkable. Green roofs and living walls are beneficial for our environment in reducing urban heat island conditions, reducing dust, cooling spaces, and habitat for several species in an urban.