Environmentally Friendly Architecture

For my project I focused on environmentally friendly architecture specifically through materials, design and construction. I researched and learned about different buildings and architectural styles that promote clean environmental practices through use of design and architecture. Specifically I wanted to focus on my school and environmentally friendly buildings and designs on my campus.

Location: Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton


What is environmentally friendly architecture?

Environmentally friendly architecture (also known as Green Construction) is the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. Buildings that fit into the Green Construction method include those made out of recycled waste and bamboo; the goal of this eco-friendly architecture is to create homes and buildings which promote biodiversity or generation of renewable energy while representing the future of sustainable design.  


Do you know of any environmentally friendly buildings or “Green Construction” where you live? click “yes” and “other” to tell me about it!

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The Design Process

Collecting information

When collecting information on this topic I looked into environmentally friendly architecture and buildings that already exist (one on my school campus), types of renewable energy that are being incorporated into these buildings and homes, and materials that promote green construction.

Types of renewable energy that are incorporated into buildings and homes

  • Solar Energy which can be used for generating electricity, heating water, heating and lighting homes, and solar cooling.
  • Wind Energy can be captured through wind turbines and used to generate electricity.
  • Hydropower uses dams and use of capturing energy from water to create electricity and power for homes and buildings.

Environmentally friendly buildings

  • Homer
    • This building located on my school campus includes solar panels, skylights, rooftop gardens and and energy tracking website. This building is environmentally friendly and qualifies as a “Green Construction” building because of its low energy/renewable energy qualities, and its promotion of environmentally friendly techniques throughout design, building and daily use.
  • Wood Studio House vs Recycled Concrete “Sawmill House”
    • Both of these designs are environmentally friendly architecture because of their different ways of using eco-friendly, sustainable materials.
    • The Wood studio house located in Spain runs on solar power and the water used is collected via rain tanks. The eco-friendly design of the home is complemented by the simple decor inside, which consists of stark white floors and natural timber walls.
    • Recycled Concrete House is located in Australia and uses material from the thousands of tons of concrete that are wasted each year and recycled 270 one-ton blocks to create the outer perimeter of the home. The interior uses stained wood and because of its location surrounded by trees and features natural ventilation flows with selective glass use for environmental coverage.

Materials that promote green construction

  • Wood materials
    • Bamboo flooring – Bamboo takes three years to mature as opposed to the 50-100 years of other trees like maple and oak used for hardwood flooring. This makes it an environmentally sound and environmentally sustainable flooring choice.
    • Cork flooring – Cork is harvested from the bark of the tree, so the tree itself is not cut down and the bark takes about three years to regrow, so it’s definitely an environmentally friendly choice.
    • Reclaimed wood – This wood is salvaged from demolished buildings and reused.
  • Roofing
    • EcoStar Sustainable Roofing – Roofing tiles offered by EcoStar are made of 80% recycled rubber and plastic.
    • Plastic Lumber Yard – These plastic roofing slates are made from mostly recycled materials and are recyclable themselves.
    • Energy Star rated roofing – Energy Star qualified roofing materials are designed to reflect heat and therefore helping to prevent heat transference from the sun’s rays. This translates into less energy usage and lower cooling bills.

Bringing Environmentally Friendly Design to my School

At my school there is a building called the Sigall which I decided to make more environmentally friendly through architectural and design changes. After researching materials, green construction and ways buildings are being made to better suit and help the environment I figured out the changes I wanted to make.

 This is an image of the current Sigall building

The current building has lots of windows and skylights which are solar energy and help with heat and light but there is no way to close off the windows and skylights. Using an architectural technique called Transformation, I designed a modification to the building which are manually controlled shutters that can be opened or closed. Transformation is “The principle that an architectural concept, structure, or organization can be altered through a series of discrete manipulations and permutations in response to a specific context or set of conditions without a loss of identity or concept” or a part of the building that can change or be modified usually depending on weather or other external factors. I took inspiration from buildings which incorporate shutters over windows that close and open depending on the needs of the people inside.

  • This building has window coverings that can be manipulated

Share this project
  1. April 27, 2017 by Nicholas V

    This is a really cool idea of environmental architecture and I had never heard of it until now. I was unaware of how recycled waste and bamboo went into some buildings and how they were so environmentally friendly. Specifically, the timber walls inside the wood studio house in Spain were really interesting to learn about. What other types of roofing are there besides the ones you listed that are environmentally friendly?

  2. April 30, 2017 by Masayuki N

    Great project! I am part of the Energy class, and it was interesting to see the intersection between what we learned in our class and what you have researched here. I have always been interested in green architecture, and this presentation definitely helped me see the thinking process in focusing on the health of our planet while building.

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