Green buildings has become a very popular concept due to falling technology costs meaning that the development of low carbon buildings has become relatively affordable.  Green buildings have a variety of types and definitions and there are a range of certification systems in place.  The most famous globally is probably the LEED system, but some countries such as the United Arab Emirates have created their own schemes to reflect local culture and planning priorities.  One of the most transformative is passive house certification.  Developed in by Swedish and German researchers, its requirements mean that houses often do not require heating systems and energy requirements are extremely low (LINK).

In recent years with the fall in solar energy costs, net zero energy or energy positive houses have received increased attention.  These houses, over the span of a year, either generate more or the same amount of energy that they receive.  Recent work by researchers in the UK has revealed that it is feasible to construct an energy positive house of standard UK size to sell at typical prices.  This work was originally undertaken to demonstrate the viability of both the UK Government commitment to having all new build homes be zero carbon from 2016 (subsequently dropped) and the European Union nearly zero carbon house target for 2020.

There has also been an interest in recent years in the use of heritage buildings and a renewed understanding of how traditional building techniques can be both low energy and also disaster resistant.  One example are the bhunga style buildings in India which use traditional building materials.  Due to the thick walls the buildings are both hot in the winter and cool in the summer, and their circular design also makes them resistant to earthquakes.

Are there other green building initiatives or policies that you know about?  Which policies, instruments, frameworks, projects or initiatives do you know about?  Are there policies in your country, region or city to enable low impact buildings?  Do you know about or are you involved in projects in your community, school or business that are green buildings?  We are particularly interested in sustainable housing initiatives within industrialising countries, particularly in the tropics.

If you have examples to share, please do fill out our questionnaire.

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