Green architecture, also called sustainable building, isn’t complicated and doesn’t require expensive or unusual materials. Houses, offices and schools can be built using locally produced materials in a way that isn’t high-tech. Buildings consume 30 percent of our fresh water and 25 percent of all of our wood products, so it makes sense to practice green architecture and save our resources.

  1. Heliostats

    • Heliostats are an arrangement of mirrors that use preprogrammed sequencing software to track the sun. The mirrors reflect sunlight from a large roof-mounted circular tracking mirror to a secondary mirror or mirrors, and is then directed inside a building. The sunlight looks as if it’s provided by electrical means. Architects have only lately begun using the mirrors as light and energy sources since the cost of machining specialty optics has come down in price.

    Green Roofing

    • A roof can and should do more than just keep the rain out. Architects today can design roofs to collect water for gardens, supply energy for electricity and even be a habitat for plants and animals. Solar roofing, also called a photovoltaic system, can provide an infinitely renewable source of energy. A solar roof can be used to charge batteries for use on cloudy days or as a back-up electricity source.

    Passive Solar

    • Your entire home can be designed to make use of the sun’s energy. A passive solar home doesn’t use any type of mechanical devices like pumps or fans to move the solar heat; instead it’s built to take advantage of your local climate. The size, location and glazing of windows are a major component in collecting and storing solar energy. Roof overhangs and placement of trees or other shading devices like awnings help prevent excessive heat buildup inside the home.

    Earth-Sheltered Homes

    • Earth-sheltered homes are not considered as radical as they once were; they’re increasingly seen as energy-efficient, comfortable and weather-resistant homes. In an earth-shelter designed home, temperatures are more stable and therefore more comfortable. Because an earth-sheltered home is largely surrounded by earth, it needs less maintenance than a traditional home; painting and caulking aren’t necessary. With earth-sheltered homes, moisture penetration can be a problem, and the initial construction costs can be higher.

      Source: eHow Catherine Lugo, eHow Contributor updated: April 01, 2011

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