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Top Green Technologies for Sustainable Architecture

17 Nov 2023

We present the six most usable green technologies that are suitable both for new constructions as well as for retrofitting ones to make them greener and more economical regarding energy.

Sustainable architecture seeks to reduce the negative impact on the environment that buildings generate through ecologically sound design, building processes, and operational approaches. Architects and builders need to focus on implementing such green technologies if they want to make their structures even more sustainable.

This article presents the six most usable green technologies that are suitable both for new constructions as well as for retrofitting ones to make them greener and more economical regarding energy.


Solar Panels

Solar Panels
Solar Panels

One of the most widespread is solar energy technology which entails the utilization of solar panels. They help in sunlight capturing and converting it into electricity thus reducing the use of fossil fuel.

How They Work

In particular, there is a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel composed of solar cells that are manufactured using such substances as crystalline silicon or thin-film semiconductors. These cells are connected in such a way that they form modules that would serve as roof-top and ground-mount arrays. On exposure to sunlight, PV panels produce DC power that is later transformed into AC power.


  • Onsite power generation for reduction of bills.

  • Reduced carbon footprint or environmental impact.

  • Used for homes, offices, factories, and other kinds of facilities.

  • Lifetime of up to 20-30 years with a negligible need for repair.

  • Different sizes and capacities are present as the market has something for everyone.


  • The high initial installed pricing although the price is tumbling down.

  • Power generation based on sunshine intermittent.

  • In some cases, these may include inverters, batteries, and tracking systems.

  • Adequate roof or land area should be provided for panel placement.

Green Roofs

Green Roofs
Green Roofs

This type of roofing system also known as a living roof, incorporates vegetation planted over a water membrane. These are beneficial in terms of environment and aesthetics.

How They Work

Green roofs are made up of several layers such as the water-proof membrane, the drains or pipes, and the lighter medium for growing the plants. This provides natural stormwater management since the plants suck in the rainwater.

There are two main types of green roofs:

Extensive - Lightweight soil layer with low-maintenance plants like sedums, mosses and grasses.

Intensive - Deeper soil layer able to support larger plants, shrubs and even trees. Require more maintenance.


  • Improve stormwater management by absorbing and filtering rainwater.

  • Insulate buildings and reduce energy costs for heating and cooling.

  • Create wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

  • Absorb air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Increase roof lifespan by protecting from UV rays and temperature fluctuations.


  • Higher upfront installation and maintenance costs.

  • Require expert planning and construction.

  • Weight load limits may require additional structural support.

  • Regular maintenance needed for irrigation, weeding and plant care.

  • Harsher climates may limit plant selection and performance.

Smart Glass

Smart Glass
Smart Glass

Smart glass, also known as switchable glass, is able to change light transmission properties when voltage, light or heat is applied. It provides unique aesthetics and energy efficiency.

How It Works

There are several types of switchable glass technologies, including:

  • Thermochromic - Changes opacity based on temperature

  • Photochromic - Reacts to light exposure like sunglasses

  • Electrochromic - Switches transparent or opaque with applied voltage

  • Suspended Particle Device (SPD) - Switches transparency by aligning suspended particles

The glass can be instantly switched between transparent and opaque states as required.


  • Dynamic control of light, glare and heat gain.

  • Increase energy efficiency by reducing need for heating and cooling.

  • Enable natural lighting while maintaining privacy.

  • Aesthetic appeal for modern architecture.

  • Suitable for windows, skylights, partitions and cladding.


  • Requires power source and control systems.

  • Limited size availability depending on glass type.

  • Color rendering and clarity may be less than traditional glass.

  • Requires expertise for appropriate specification and integration.

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting systems collect and store rainfall for reuse in irrigation and non-potable uses. This reduces demands on municipal supplies and stormwater runoff.

How It Works

Rainwater is collected from roof surfaces and redirected into an above or below-ground storage tank rather than allowing it to discharge down storm drains. The stored water can then be used for landscape irrigation, toilet flushing, laundry, and other low-grade applications to reduce mains water usage.


  • Reduces water bills by providing an alternative non-potable water source’

  • Lowers demands on public water infrastructure.

  • Decreases stormwater runoff and flooding.

  • Can be used for irrigation to support green roofs or living walls.

  • Relatively low cost and maintenance requirements.


  • May require plumbing modifications and pumped distribution systems.

  • Water treatment and filtration systems may be needed.

  • Underground tanks take up usable space.

  • Water availability relies on rainfall - may require back-up mains water supply.

  • Periodic cleaning is needed to prevent algal growth in tanks.



Daylighting involves the design and placement of windows, openings, and reflective surfaces to maximize use of natural light in building interiors. This minimizes the need for artificial lighting.

How it Works

Strategies like building orientation, window placement, light wells, light shelves and skylights allow sunlight to penetrate deep into interior spaces. Light tubes and mirrors can redirect light through horizontal and vertical transport. Reflective interior surfaces also minimize lighting requirements.


  • Reduce electricity consumption for lighting.

  • Lower carbon footprint from energy use.

  • Create bright, inviting and productive environments.

  • Prolong exposure to natural light improves health, mood and focus.

  • Synergies with solar heat gain, ventilation and views.


  • Glare control required to avoid visual discomfort.

  • Solar heat gains may increase HVAC loads.

  • Light redirection systems have added costs.

  • Access to views and daylight limited for core areas.

  • Not suitable for light-sensitive environments like galleries.

Greywater Recycling

Greywater Recycling
Greywater Recycling

Greywater recycling systems collect and treat wastewater from bathtubs, showers, sinks and laundry for reuse in toilet flushing and other non-potable applications.

How it Works

Greywater from approved sources is collected by a separate plumbing system that connects to a treatment tank. After filtration and disinfection, the treated greywater is stored and redistributed for approved uses like subsurface irrigation and toilet flushing.


  • Reduce freshwater usage by up to 30%.

  • Lower water and sewerage bills.

  • Conserves limited drinking water supplies.

  • Recycles nutrients for irrigation uses.

  • Can be retrofitted into existing buildings.


  • Upfront costs for new plumbing and treatment systems.

  • Ongoing operation and maintenance are required, including cleaning and replacing filters.

  • Requires expertise to ensure proper treatment and health protections.

  • Local plumbing codes may prohibit certain types of greywater reuse.

  • Public perception barriers about water quality.

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