Schools Training

Building a Better Tomorrow: Environmentally-Responsible Construction

10 AUG 2012
Career Path : Engineering Technology

The planet earth is the primal construction site. All of our first building materials are supplied by the earth’s resources, and even today’s synthetic materials derive in some way from the earth’s natural elements. As our cities continue to grow and industrial projects expand, we no longer believe we can proceed with unbridled carelessness in terms of changing the natural environment. Resources are limited. Excessive use of electricity is wasteful. Continuous production of toxic and other waste materials is harmful. In order to continue society’s growth, we have come to understand the importance of environmentally-responsible construction, in terms of architecture, engineering, and urban development.


Today, there are many considerations and systems in place that did not previously exist to design and construct buildings while protecting the environment. These should not be viewed as hindrances to development; only in such a short-sighted attitude is development seen as opposed to the protection of the environment. In fact, the opposite is much truer: that a long-term view of development needs to sustain a clean environment, both in terms of managing resources as well as promoting a healthier standard of living.


Environmental Technology


Buildings house people: whether residential or commercial, people live, breathe, eat and perform bodily functions inside of buildings way more often than outside. Architectural technology today must integrate as optimally as possible the management of a building’s water supply, wastewater and solid waste management. Environmental technology, or envirotech, is concerned with the design and construction of devices that synthesize recycling, water purification, air purification, sewage treatment and energy conservation. As populations grow and cities expand, clean living will depend on these technologies more and more.


Green Building


Similar to envirotech, green building (sometimes greentech), is more concerned not only with the individual building’s efficiency and waste reduction in-itself, but also for the impact of the building with its surrounding environment. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is an important part of green building. Green building is therefore concerned with both the quality of life (air, clean water) inside, and the community outside. Formal systems have been set up to grant certification for meeting green building standards, like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.


Sustainable Design


While envirotech deals mostly with the devices and processes by which buildings remain efficient and reduce waste, and greentech is concerned with how buildings function regularly within their environment, sustainable construction incorporates both of these elements by evaluating and optimizing efficiency and waste-reduction over the entire life-cycle of a building. This cradle-to-the-grave approach begins with the initial designs and remains environmentally-responsible at every stage of construction, day-to-day functioning, as well as considering the building’s future. Architectural technicians practicing sustainable design utilize the Life Cycle Assessment technique to integrate every aspect of environmental effects.


From the devices used internally, to the relationship with the communication, to the long-term considerations of our planet, environmentally-responsible construction is the right way to building a better future.


For information on architecture and engineering technology college, visit Mohawk College.