Green Imprints: Environmental Degradation & Ecological Design

Architects create buildings that stand years after the’re gone and in a way, those buildings become a piece of history as it ages. In a Willmott Dixon article they suggest that this process is such a profound notion, we should take notice and utilize our knowledge of materials and technology to help better the future of our environment. But what does this mean exactly?

Well think about how much goes into construction. Even more, think about just a specific element of construction, for example, wood. We all know where wood comes from but it goes through a long process of work before it’s in shape to start building. A study done in the Oxford Journal showed that in Finland over 1,310 Gg of Co2 emissions were let into the atmosphere within a 20-year period due to the harvesting and transportation of wood alone. In case you’re not familiar with what Co2 emission is, it’s the prime greenhouse gas in our atmosphere causing air pollution and climate changes. In the United States 82% of the emissions that form greenhouse gasses comes from Co2. Keep in mind this is just one aspect of construction.


Living wall in New Street Square, UK, July 2013. Image via Biotecture.

A building’s life directly affects many ecosystems through transportation, excavation, construction, energy use and maintenance, and eventually demolition. Therefore, it’s important that we take steps to understand the toll construction has on our environment. In a strange way, it holds a piece of our time going forward into the future and I hope that we can make it something worth remembering.

Urban Transitions

The amount of pollution and waste that comes out of one structure is extensive and built environments have usually consisted of leveling off trees and plant life, however, in recent years the effort to integrate plant life back into these concrete cities has become a focus. With the knowledge of sustainably growing in our society, it has allowed developers and architects to think about forming more green choices. For example, Biotecture was developed in this mindset of sustainable environments and continues to fuel progression, as it should. This concept relates architecture to a more green life. Biotecture is the direct integration of plant life and structures. But where the issue lies here is expanding that knowledge, so we’re able to become more innovative. It’s not enough for just architects or people who are passionate about green living to know that construction affects our ecosystems. We need others to realize this as well, so that hopefully the green imprints we make in this world will carry into the future.

About The Author

is a undergrad student who has been studying architecture for over four years, first at Pratt Institute and now at UCF. Sustainability is important to her as a designer because architects greatly influence the environment through building and construction. It's vital for her to understand what the current issues are and how we can go about improving them. Her motto is "We can't create innovation without knowing what has already been done".