Green building – international experience and development prospects in Russia

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Not so long ago, Andrei Bokov, President of the Union of Architects of Russia, announced that over the next year our country will develop its own standards for the so-called “green” construction. It is planned that specialists from leading construction companies in Russia and architects will take part in the process of developing new standards for the construction of houses with completely new operational characteristics, and most importantly, having a much lower negative impact on the environment..

At the same time, according to Bokov, experts will not be guided by similar standards adopted abroad, since Russian conditions require a special approach, taking into account the climate of each individual region. It is these rules and recommendations that will become an example for developers in the near future, a model that will be used in the construction of new buildings..

Thus, “green” construction is becoming one of the most priority areas in the construction of residential and public buildings not only all over the world, but also in Russia..

What is green building

This term originated in the United States and European countries back in the 70s of the last century. In 1975, the first demonstration buildings with high energy efficiency appeared. Already in 1990, the first green building standard was adopted in the UK, called BREEAM, two years later, its EnergyStar standard regulating the construction of green buildings was adopted in the United States..

Green building means the construction and operation of buildings with lower energy and material consumption throughout the entire life cycle of a house: from design to disposal..

In general, “green” construction pursues such global goals as reducing the impact on the environment and increasing the comfort of the residents of the building. These priority goals are achieved by:

  • the use of energy efficient technologies that reduce the consumption of water, electricity and heat resources;
  • reduction of waste and emissions during building operation;
  • attention to the health and comfort of the residents of the house or employees working in the “green” office center, increasing their work capacity by improving indoor air quality and using cleaner drinking water.

international experience

Today, the share of “green” buildings in the total number of new buildings in the United States has already reached 20%, approximately the same indicators in the construction sector in the EU countries, and the number of such houses in developed countries is constantly growing. A powerful impetus for the development of green building technologies was the growing level of environmental pollution around the world, global warming and the need for more economical use of the planet’s energy resources, such as gas and oil..

Energy efficient housing
Chris Reynolds. Future breeze

The main difference between “green” buildings is the use of the latest technologies that can significantly reduce energy consumption during home operation, as well as the impact on the environment. Among the technologies most often used in the construction of such buildings, it is worth noting:

  • the presence of double glazing, with an air circulation system located between the glasses, which allows increasing the level of heat saving. Such arrangement of facades of multi-storey buildings and window openings of private houses allows to reduce the cost of heating the building;
  • installation of special blinds that automatically change the tilt level depending on natural light. So, on a sunny hot day, the blinds automatically close, which reduces the operating time of air conditioning systems, and in cloudy weather they will provide access to light to reduce the use of artificial lighting. This technology saves energy;
  • installation of a central collection system for melt and rain water, as well as modern drinking water purification systems. This equipment allows to reduce the consumption of water resources from external sources;
  • installation of solar panels and special solar-powered collectors that heat water for the needs of the inhabitants of the house;
  • An alternative to solar panels is wind turbines, which are often used in high-rise buildings such as the World Trade Center in Bahrain. Wind turbines located on the high-rise floors of skyscrapers serve not only to generate electricity, which provides a significant part of the building’s energy needs, but also to cool the premises, providing fresh air;
  • the presence of computer systems for home control. Such a “smart home” allows you to control both the lighting level and the temperature in each individual room, which in general can significantly reduce the cost of heating the building and save energy.

We must not forget that the construction of a “green” building is not only the presence of systems that increase the use of energy and generate their own electricity from renewable sources, but also the use of environmentally friendly materials in construction and finishing.

So, in the decoration of premises, natural materials such as bamboo and marble are most often used. Also, often in the construction of “green” buildings, recyclable materials obtained from the processing of construction waste are used..

In addition, when developing a project for “green” construction, the impact of the building on the environment must be taken into account – architects pay special attention to how harmoniously the building “fits” into the natural landscape and try to reduce the impact of the construction process on the natural environment to a minimum..

The following construction projects can serve as vivid examples of the successful implementation of “green” projects:

  • Green Lighthouse – a building in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark, featuring not only a healthy climate, but also extremely low energy consumption;
  • The Grimaldi Forum in Monaco;
  • Manitoba Hydro Place, Winnipeg, Canada;
  • University of Sydney Law School, Australia;
  • Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers – a 25-storey hotel in Copenhagen, fully self-sufficient in electricity from renewable sources;
  • Greentowers, Green Towers, a renovated building that houses the headquarters of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt;
  • California Academy of Sciences;
  • Sidwell Friends High School located in Washington, USA and many others.

Cities such as London are already home to entire neighborhoods of residential buildings featuring highly efficient, energy-efficient technologies such as Greenwich Millenium Village and BED ZED. There is a “sunny” village Solarsiedlung am Schlierberg in Freiburg, Germany, and a quarter of buildings with solar panels is successfully operated in Helsinki, Finland..

As you can see, in Western countries there are already many examples of the successful implementation of the principles of “green” construction, approved by the governments of states. Currently, this direction is considered one of the most promising, since modern technologies have allowed to get rid of some of the myths associated with the construction of “green” buildings.

Green building
Dr. T.F. Chen. Sunshine Valley, Ode To Sun-Energy Painting

In particular, while it is believed that building green homes is significantly more expensive than conventional new buildings, in reality the amount spent on energy efficiency is not that great. Usually the construction of a “green” house costs only 10-20% more than the construction of an ordinary apartment building. However, the benefits for the owners of such housing in the future are so obvious that such construction pays off already at the stage of selling apartments – many residents of megalopolises in developed countries now prefer to pay a little more for housing in order to save significant amounts of money annually in the future on paying bills for heating, water and electricity.

Russian perspectives of “green” construction

Currently, in the Russian Federation, the number of already implemented projects of environmentally friendly construction is zero. There are several approved projects that may become the first “green” construction projects in our country. Thus, the construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi, as directed by the President of Russia, is being carried out in accordance with international Green Standards, so that the first result of the introduction of new technologies into the construction sector will become evident already in 2014..

In addition, 8 projects for the construction of “Energy Efficient Quarters” in various regions of Russia have already been approved, as well as 4 private construction projects in accordance with the requirements of the LEED rating system and 4 private projects for the construction of buildings in accordance with British BREEAM standards. However, it is still far from the implementation of all these green building projects, and of course, it is too early to talk about the successful development of the process of building more energy efficient and environmentally friendly new buildings..

Undoubtedly, in the past few years, the authorities’ attention to this problem has increased significantly. In particular, Dmitry Medvedev last year signed the New Climate Doctrine of Russia, according to which our country must reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020. The development of Russian standards for “Green” construction, which was announced by Andrey Bokov, also testifies to the increased attention to this area of ​​development of the construction sector..

And yet, in order for “green” construction to become an integral part of the Russian construction market, it is necessary, first of all, to change the attitude of the population towards this problem. In conditions when the overwhelming majority of citizens cannot afford to purchase an apartment in an ordinary multi-storey building, the issue of the environmental cleanliness of the building is not relevant for most of Russians. The same applies to issues of efficiency in the use of natural resources – the citizens of our country are not accustomed to saving electricity and heat, and given the state of the housing and communal services system, when hot water “rivers” flowing along the sidewalks and regular pipe breaks have become the norm, it is necessary to start introducing energy-saving technologies precisely from reforming housing and communal services.

Of course, “green” construction is a necessary condition for a more careful attitude to the natural resources of our planet and the state of the environment in general, but for Russia this direction is only becoming relevant and for its development and successful implementation, most likely, it will take more than a dozen years.

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