buildings, the big city and you
buildings are where a lot of us spend a lot of our time so we'd like to be comfortable. not comfortable in the sense that we kick off our shoes and put our feet up on the desk.
rather, we'd like to work at a comfortable temperature, bask in natural light, and sit comfortably.
the good news is buildings can assist in this, the bad news is the way in which buildings do this is not always good for the environment.
let's look at working at a comfortable temperature.
in the big office buildings in the big city, building managers/companies have control of the heating ventialtion and cooling systems (HVAC).
this very powerful position allows them to set a temperature 'deadband'. the deadband is like a thermostat on a heater. one effective way of reducing energy use is to set a wide deadband so the HVAC can take a break. for example, setting a deadband between 20-28 is more energy efficient than a deadband between 22-26 degrees because the system won't need to switch on when the temp reaches 24 degrees and can hold off for a little longer to not work as hard to reduce the temp when it needs too.
not even our chairs are safe from scruitiny in this biz of greening.
furniture releases volatile organic compounds (chemicals that escape the furniture into the air).
while not all of these VOC are bad for us, some found in furniture can pollute the air.
think of the stink coming off an entire building's worth of chairs!
there are other ways in which a building or company can help us adopt environmentally friendly behaviours.
think about whether you'd be more likely to ride to work if the building had showers and change rooms. think of how well bigger office blocks integrate with the street, this sort of design encourages people to walk around more (not necessarily an environmental benefit but definitely a health one). of of how easy it is to recyle/compost where appropriate bins are provided. or of how much easier it would be to refuse bottled water when there's a filtered tap in the office.
or of how many more people we could encourage to take public/active transport to work if fewer car parking spaces were proviced. or of how many more poople could take the stairs instead of escalators if they were positioned in an accessible and prominent position in the building, and lifts in a slightly more awkard spot (the Daniel Mannix building is a great example of this).
sadly, there comes a time when buildings die. think of all the rubbish! it's like all the rubbish in your bag a the end of the week x 10000000000.
unfortunately, the VOC in furniture doesn't stop escaping when the no one's using the seats. designing a builidng to be recycled is an important fact to consider in sustainbility.
this is a short section because I don't know that much about recyling building materials, but will look for links.