Sustainable and green development may seem like relatively new industry buzzwords, but the concepts themselves are anything but novel.
While green building evokes images of such new technologies as photovoltaic panels and self-monitoring heat and cooling systems, the notion of sustainability dates back at least as far as ancient Greece.
Sustainable building revolves, first and foremost, around simplicity and efficiency. In ancient times, Greeks relied on a remarkably simple yet effective tactic now known as strategic solar building orientation to help provide comfort in their homes.
The great philosopher Socrates himself noted in his writings that buildings in ancient Greece were built facing south. This created warmth from the sun during the cold winter months and provided shade in the summer.
Obviously, strategic solar building orientation would work differently for different people based on geography. For instance, those in the southern hemisphere would build homes facing north to glean the same benefits. Whatever the specifics, however, studies have shown that buildings that use strategic solar building orientation can save their owners as much as 12 per cent on energy used for heating and cooling and other associated costs.
Of course, with space at a premium and home builders often having their own preferences – not to mention economic factors – such a simple solution is often either unknown or simply disregarded.
Modern green technologies obviously have their uses in helping reduce the environmental impacts of modern lifestyles. Despite this, the ease with which strategic solar building orientation could often be implemented makes the fact that it is so often ignored in favour of costlier and more modern options all the more surprising.
With such a basic solution there for the taking, strategic solar building orientation could do more than improve energy efficiency in homes. It could help dispel the myth that green and sustainable building practices are too costly, complicated and involved to consider.