As any other subject, architecture evolves in accordance with society. At present, we have progressed from the design of smart buildings to the concept of green buildings, which are those designed and built taking always into account environmental protection, being economically profitable (due to the savings originated as well as the income they produce) and contributing to the occupying people’s comfort. These remain commonly known as triple bottom line at the base of sustainability.

Matching these three concepts becomes essential when starting to think and design a green building. To this effect, a series of measures have to be considered when undertaking any green building:

  • Analysing the conditions related to the environment before starting to build, aiming to harmonize the building with the chosen location. And its design has to be comfortable and preserved, both on the interior and exterior.
  • Energy supply. Green buildings bet on sustainability, therefore, they will use natural resources to generate the energy needed, such as reusing rain water for its supply, incorporating solar panels for the creation of clean energy or taking advantage of solar light by big windows with solid enclosures.
  • People’s comfort. The building interior environment has to imply for its occupiers’ physical and psychological well-being, so its design has to seek comfort, proper communication and consider people’s differences by removing, for instance, architectural barriers, installing automatic doors or choosing well signage. Besides, it should incorporate systems able to remove toxic elements present at the environment.

For all of the above mentioned, we can state that green buildings go a step beyond smart buildings, since they use technology to achieve higher sustainability and people’s well-being, for instance, by using occupancy sensors or lighting automation to improve energy use or during the building process, by using recycled or eco-friendly materials.

Moreover, they incur considerable savings. According to the US Green Building Council, green buildings use 26% less energy, their inhabitants’ satisfaction is 27% higher, their maintenance costs are 13% lower and they reduce their CO2 emissions by 33%. Besides, with a construction based on sustainability, buildings increase their lifespan and maintenance costs are fewer.

These savings have to be added to the advantages that green buildings generate, not only related to environment, but to the building’s owners as well, since rents can be more elevated, public encouragements are more accessible, employees are more productive and corporate reputation increases.

As we can see, green buildings are more than a simple series of measures to protect environment. They are the reflection of a way of conceiving the connection between people and the environment through which they move.