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Topic for Debate
 
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
Dear all
Its been very long time that i've started a new topic in this forum.
We in college, are doing a seminar titled Green lies...damned lies...
Though we will narrow down our scope to architecture and the built environment, we would like to start in general about the green movement.
In this seminar we would actually like to explore the facts, figures, myths and realities about "green".
Be it ratings, criticizing life styles and relating them to green.
I should also like to convey that I've worked in different energy software like TAS, VISDOE, ECOTECT etc..to name a few and have a good understanding about LEED facilitation. But always surpried to see the limitatins of these wares in the present days technilogical context. although BIM is of a great easy and accuarate tool available, are there more tools.
Exploring the bottom line of resource vs consumption and who gave one the right to enjoy more resources than others?
so I would like the members to post their opinions on this topic. Its good if you can give me some more light and new trends in so the called "green world"
Sriraj Gokarakonda
Responses
 
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
There is no doubt that we should be moving towards green or sustainable designs, but at the moment what people are doing is comodifying this green concept. i don't know much about other parts of the world but in my country i am perfectly aware that certifications and accreditations such as LEED is just a gimmick and its quite sickening as well. the problem i see in the whole scenario is not the bogus claims but the role architects are playing in all of this. If architects as true professionals did not play into the hands of clients/developers in order to cater to their comodified societies, i believe there may be a better future for so called green architecture and not be just symbolic sustainability.
T C
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
Siraj, A truely "green world" would be without any human footprint.

To me the nearest humans can get to a Green World is by trying to minimise the impact of humans upon the world.

This means designing buildings for humans which work with the enviroment and not against the environment.

Buildings which use air-conditioning (and so use energy) work against both the local climate and the environment.

Buildings need to be designed to work with the local climate with minimal working parts (minimal energy waste, minimal machinery,etc). This means a return to low tech vernacular design which is appropriate for each specific local climate.

The days of designing energy consuming dinosaurs are over. Such buildings can be built anywhere in the world, but they actively work against the local climate and the environment.
Frank John Snelling
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
I would like to contradict your first sentence, Mr. Frank, A truly green world does not mean a world without humans, but a world without human dominance.
Mr. Tilanka, i know of a building in Ratmalana which supports your argument.
I think its the balance which should be worked out between resource production and consumption, so that the carrying capacity of the earth is not disturbed, rather the carrying capacity of a place.
I want more views on these aspects.
Sriraj Gokarakonda
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
Sriraj, No problem. But remember that human beings although sentient, are neither rational, nor neutral, when it comes to sharing planet earth.

Humans have a vast untapped wealth of green designs (including architecture) which have developed and evolved over thousands of years. But today these traditional designs, which work with the local climate and environment, have been thrown wholesale into the rubbish bin and replaced with glass and concrete dinosaurs.

So calling any glass and concrete energy comsuming dinosaur "green" is an illusion with smoke and mirrors.
Frank John Snelling
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
In any case 100% green of anything is next to impossible with human intervention. However i think in so called "Green" architecture what is implied is the minimum amount of hindrance to the env./min energy wastage etc.
when we talk about "green" architecture usually embodied energy is given consideration. If a traditional clay brick has the embodied energy than a modern material type and then using this modern material usually is considered a "Green" building practice.
what exactly in rathmalana are you talking about sriraj? if you want i could name around 20 just off the top of my head... ;)thats the state of "Green" Architecture today.
T C
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
I would like to know your more about the problems which architects faces when it comes to embodied energy. Its always good to talk about embodies energy, but I hardly find any concrete data regarding it at least in my country, India. Few organizations are now trying to put in some effort but its largely loose ended.
Do you know about any such organizations of countries which established appreciable data on embodies energy, which proves to be a ready reckoner when one wants to use it?
Sriraj Gokarakonda
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
Embodied energy can be quantified using the Embodied energy coefficient. This coefficient rate takes into consideration the total amount of energy that it takes to make a single unit of a material.
there have been loads of experimentations and studies done on embodied energy coefficient. you can find it by googling. I once wrote to a certain organization[CSIRO in Australia]and they provided me with lots of data. This helped me in a project that i was working on at that time.
T C
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
Tilanka and Sriraj, :))) An interesting angle on "Green buildings".

I agree with Sriraj, if this is such a hot issue, then there should be a ready reckoner for calculating the relative merits of building materials.

Even if one looks at compressive materials such as brick and concrete. The equations needed to determine which is the best material for a particular material does not only lie with comparing the relative values of (a) heat transmission and (b) thermal mass, etc, but also what is the carbon footprint for manufacturing a quntity of fired bricks as against the manufacture of the similarly fired calcium compounds used in cement.

Furthermore, there is the transport energy costs to consider as well.

The bottom line is that locally manufactured compressive materials are more likely to use less carbon based energy and and this then highlights the case that humanity needs to return to using traditional and vernacular architecture which works with the climate and enviroment and not against.

Because another factor in the equation is that even if the lowest carbon energy materials are used, if the design wastes energy simply to maintain the internal micro-environment, then that MUST be added to the carbon enrgy footprint.
Frank John Snelling
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
Tilanka, "Embodied Energy Coefficient" sounds like the same sort of unreal statistic-based data used by Quantity Surveyors when estimating the cost of a building.

Part of my architectural training was a week spent with the Quantity Surveying department and the estimating equations and process used statistical averages of statistical averages and meant every estimate was in fact a very rough "guestimate".

Therefore, any developer, any architect, any builder, can easily produce reams of wonderful looking figures and cart-loads of paperwork in support of "Green" designs which are in fact the opposite of green designs.

As I said, all of the factors need to be considered, including the local environment, climate and culture as well as the local economic base.

In the age before the widespread use of fossil fuel powered machinery. The local availability of raw materials was THE deciding factor (except for works such as major religious and state buildings).

With the advent of fossil fuel power, this literally forced both raw and processed materials onto local economies and not only undercut the need for using local building materials, but it also undercut (and in many cases destroyed) the manufacturing base of local building economies.

Therefore the time has come to reinvent the local micro-manufacture of locally available building materials, because the cost of carbon-energy fuelled transport outweighs the "cheapness" of the materials transported.
Frank John Snelling
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
If what your saying is to be taken seriously then the salaries that QS's get for their "guestimates" is daylight robbery! lol...iv always thought they were getting over paid comparative to architects! :D
i agree with you on your idea of quantifying something as "Eco friendliness" is elusive. but isn't it probable that we could some how calculate the amount of energy that goes into making a single unit of a given material? if we then can somehow compare these rates, couldn't we come up with the most suitable material to use?
and your last point is rather interesting since just a few days ago i was talking with my wife about the same thing but in a different scenario.
In sri lanka we use to have guys called "bombay mutan karaya" these guys use to carry with them a sweet similar to candy floss but sweeter called "bombay mutan". i guess these guys might have come from India originally and hence their name. but now a days you don't see these fellows around at all...instead what u have is candy floss. comparatively candy floss is expensive, messy and not really a better sweet than "bombay mutan" yet our local sweet is gone in this foreign sweet is all you can get. this is comodification through globalization in its true sense. something doesn't need to be neccessarily better than another thing to be used extensively, rather a different social mechanism regulates these forces around. and i believe that this might be the reason, even though the local material and local techniques might be better and even advanced, people tend to go for foreign materials and technology.
i wish the bombay mutan guy came back..cos i really hate candy floss! :)
T C
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
Tilanka, Try getting a copy of the book "Small is beautiful" :)))

And yes, QS should be renamed GS (Guestimate Surveying). The problem with "GS" is the same problem any human activity has because statistics replace reality. Statistics are "numeral approximations of reality" which when used open the door to systematic abuses of reality.

The infamous statistic of "2.4 people per household" says it all, because ".4" of a person is either the torso cut off or the head and four limbs cut off and not a live person. :(((
Frank John Snelling
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
Frank, even though in most cases I see your comments on a topic very refreshing and unique here i cant really agree with you since I often find the Qs's "guestimates" are helping me rather than not. to be able to find a solution to a problem often we need statistical data even though they may be unrealistic. I'm not saying that we should use a quantifiable method for analyzing aesthetics, but for things like a BOQ we really do need statistics.
T C
Green Lies....Damned Lies...
Tilanka, No problem. I agree that QS is necessary when building, but I was trying to sort the sheep from the goats (as usual) because statistics deals with quantity and not quality.

Therefore, statistics (and the abstract approximations of statistics) should never be used in place of or as the basis for concepts, because this is putting the cart before the horse. :)))
Frank John Snelling
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