Our department celebrates Engineering Days yearly. We invited Engr. Herbert Rivera as guest speaker for this year. He discussed about Sustainable Engineering and Eco Design or Green Buildings. Here are the following important statements: Different changes on the earth occurred. These changes caused positive effects but many of these contribute to what we call global environmental crisis. These changes are: 1) global warming which causes La Niña, El Niño, etc. 2) deflation of natural resources 3) logging activities ) and problems in ecosystem which affects organisms diversity For every development or changes on earth there is always a consequence for it. Thus, people study on how to minimize the problem. Engineers therefore applied their role not only for building infrastructures, etc. but so as they applied it through studying Sustainable Engineering and Eco- Design. Sustainable Engineering and Eco Design or Green Buildings supports the building designs without using fossil fuels. Examples of fossil fuels are oil, coal, gasoline, asphalt, etc. A design like this has a purpose of primarily to eliminate the negative environmental factors.
But how is this possible? How will we connect ourselves to environment either? First and foremost do not use renewable resources for the reason that it might greatly affect the environment in worst way but do use natural resources that the earth offers. Moreover, Sustainable Engineering and Eco Design gives us two (2) questions to answer, these are: 1) Can the design function for intended use without fossil fuels? 2) Can the design reduce pollution? For these two main questions people thought of something that could be human’s alternative source of energy which are 1) solar energy, 2) hydro energy and 3) thermal energy.
In relation to engineering, engineers nowadays conduct several ways/ systems about green design. For example on project of road construction- engineers study to design a road that has less slope or elevation to have less energy pollution (less use of gasoline) caused by the vehicles. Furthermore some contractors for road widening near mountains threw their soil waste on rivers and forests for their own convenience. But considering green design, contractors can have an alternate way of disposing soil residue and debris. This soil waste from shredded mountains could now be used as the concrete base for construction.
Through this manner we will prevent the disposal of soil waste in rivers and forests but indeed will produce a wide road with quality. Another fact that Engr. Rivera told to us is the slope protection using fibre of coco husk to prevent landslides from the mountains and use recycle materials for building construction, e. g. plastic bottles. New fact was also given to us, the appropriate building sitting. It covers up where to face the building to be constructed. Do not face the building at the east or west direction because this is where the sun directly shines and sets.
Having this way, we can have less energy to be used such as electricity when it’s too hot or cold. Another fact is how to make less of construction energy gravity method. Do not build a house in high places for the reason that it might get hard for the water system to work out especially when you were using water pumps. An exact example of green design is the SM Baguio building structure. The roof construction of the mall was open in an area letting the cold air to go inside the place. This cold air would circulate around the centre mall living the place a cold air then finally moved out.
It was one of the reasons why SM Baguio did not need to have air cons. Thus, the place used less electric energy and prevents the emitting of CFC’s to our ozone layer. Going back to the questions, Can the design function for intended use without fossil fuels? The answer is yes but for now on minimizing the use of fossil fuels is more realistic than completely stopping the use of it. Can the design reduce pollution? The answer is yes, shifting from fossil fuels to alternative source of energy will be the best option to reduce pollution.
Building made by Sustainable Engineering and Eco Design however benefits and risks to be faced have. Benefits are: 1) Lower energy demands 2) Healthy occupants 3) Improve productivity 4) Has lower cost of infrastructures compared on using the natural way of designing Green building construction has lack of infrastructure design and analysis; apparently have no enough actual experience especially of how long will the building erect using green designs. The appropriate loading combinations also for green building have lack of study; it’s more on theory but without actual proof unlike designing it the way we’re doing it today.
In this case, the risk that the engineer might face is to loss for license and career. As a whole green building and green design could help our environment, our lives and profession but for now green building needs a lot of study and actual proofs to consider 100 % on structural designs in the near future. As Engr. Rivera said, we the civil engineering students on today’s generation can continue to study, to research and to explore about green design to contribute to one planet that offers us everything.