Green architecture is a conscious practice of designing a space that meticulously minimizes or nullifies the negative effects of construction, function, and energy consumption. It often aims at positively impacting the energy statistics, that is to say, the buildings are designed in such a way that the energy consumed is neutralized by the energy produced self sufficiently through renewable resources

Structures that qualify under this parameter are called net-zero buildings which are a result of a larger idea called green architecture.

A Green Tile in a Concrete Mosaic | Green Architecture

In a world that is often run by intelligent words, Green architecture and Sustainability are habitually confused. There is a thin green hue separating the two. Let us first understand the characteristics of green architecture and then the difference between the above-mentioned words.

Here are some characteristics, the defining element of Green Architecture:

  1. Efficient utilization of energy, water, and other natural resources.
  2. Maximized planning with the aid of renewable energy sources such as solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal and biomass.
  3. Waste reduction measures and pollution control.
  4. Emphasis on reducing, reuse, recycle and repurpose.
  5. Curation of a comforting thermal balance.
  6. Implementation of organic materials that help it become a green building.
  7. A flexible design that is open to refinement based on environmental conditions.
Past, Present and Future: Green Architecture Sheet1
Green Architecture-Organic forms with nestled greens _©Patrick Bingham-Hall

The Difference between Green Architecture and Sustainability

Sustainability is a comprehensive concept that is linked to a building’s congregated ability to provide a healthy, comfortable, and productive habitat without negatively impacting the environment whilst considering the state of future generations.

Differing from a larger concept of sustainability, green architecture is an architectural style that is concentrated exclusively on the environment and focuses on the practical processes and practices that add value to the idea of energy efficiency. All the green buildings across the world are certified by renowned bodies based on a set of parameters that distinguish a green building from the rest.

Examples of such distinct bodies are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, TERI GRIHA (The Energy and Resources Institute, Griha ), Indian Green Building Council, etc.

Past, Present and Future: Green Architecture Sheet2
Infographic on green architecture_©
Past, Present and Future: Green Architecture Sheet3
Conceptual drawing of a green building_©

The Past: An Aging Green | Green Architecture

The beginning of green buildings can be mapped back to the post-industrial era when migration and shooting urbanization led to the birth of multiple industries. Having witnessed the monochromatic grey effects of industrialization ranging from material monotony to intense climate destruction, the metropolitan world, and its people devoted themselves to the idea of green buildings. 

Surging environmental awareness and perennial energy crisis led to the formation of groups and organizations that dedicated efforts to design and practice energy efficiency and to build net-zero structures. 

Example: CII-Sohrabji Green Business Centre, Hyderabad

The Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre is managed by the Confederation of Indian Industry as an exhibit for green technologies. It was the first LEED Platinum-certified building from India and was constructed in Hyderabad in 2004.

The building has inculcated passive design techniques to reduce energy consumption and has an orientation that ensnares prevailing winds and circulates them through and around the building. The wind maximizes evaporative cooling, with air passing over cool planted areas and pools of water. Two windcatchers induce the movement of warm air out through vents on top of the building. Multiple traditional building techniques have been adapted, one of them being ‘Jali walls’. The punctures and patterns in the wall allow the movement of air through it whilst creating a beautiful play of light and shadow. 

CII-Sohrabji Green Business Centre was a true trailblazer and has earned a golden seat in the history of green buildings.

Past, Present and Future: Green Architecture Sheet4
India’s first LEED platinum building, GBC_©
Past, Present and Future: Green Architecture Sheet5
Ariel view of GBC, Hyderabad_©

The Present: Green Amplified

The recent past and present scenario has grown to be a nurturing ground for green building amplification. Numerous buildings have been built with a dedicated green consciousness. Multiple architects are applying to various certifications by LEED, TERI GRIHA, and IGBC which enforces certain conditions to be considered while designing and building. 

This prototype and a checklist ensure the quality and execution of such designs and it is a fulfilling reality that a large number of people are getting educated regarding the same. The present condition of our cities demands energy efficiency and green buildings are providing a viable solution to this crisis.

Example: Shanghai Tower, China

Shanghai Tower stands at a glorious 632 meters in height. It is designed by Gensler architects and is China’s tallest and the world’s second-tallest building. Wind turbines are situated near the top of the structure; powering its parks and outer lighting, while transparent inner and outer layers of glass allow the natural daylight to flood into the building, diminishing the need for artificial lighting.

The skyscraper re-uses wastewater and collects rainwater and has an integrated cooling and heating power system along with efficient energy-saving measures that ensure that the building subtracts the carbon footprint contribution. Shanghai Tower is one of the very few supertall skyscrapers that have achieved the LEED Platinum certification.

Past, Present and Future: Green Architecture Sheet6
Green Architecture-Shanghai tower; green architecture embodied_©Photo courtesy of Gensler
Green Architecture-A closer look at the LEED certified mega sky scraper_©Photo courtesy of Gensler

The Future: A Viridescent Unfurling | Green Architecture

Viridescent translates to becoming green. The future will unfurl with an aim of becoming greener and adopting methods that will sketch out the utmost energy efficiency. Aspiring and green-conscious architects are indulging in energy-sensitive design processes. Considering the severity of the pandemic, post-pandemic architecture will be the blank page on which architects will design. The future will manifest a blend of green and post-pandemic practices that will enhance the social quality of buildings and their inhabitants.

Example: Urban forest, Australia

Urban Forest is a proposal for a 30-story mixed-use residential high-rise in South Brisbane, Australia, and is designed by Koichi Takada Architects. The building flaunts one of the world’s most obtusely forested vertical gardens, stretching beyond the typical green building norms, and covers 300% of the site with breathing greenery. Enhancing biodiversity and minimizing the ecological footprint, the structure paves another stage in the evolution of the architectural vertical garden and the realm of green buildings.

A green building proposal_©Koichi Takada
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Green Architecture-Densely forested facade_©Koichi Takada

Green buildings hold a high potential future and this significant shift in thinking from concrete to green blooms are helping us become. It is pushing boundaries for buildings to be embodiments of energy efficiency. 


1.Bingham-Hall, P. (2021). Park Royal Hotel Pickering, Singapore. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

2. (2014). Green building concept. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

3. (2019). Features of a Green Building. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

4. (2019). Building of the week: CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

5. (2020). SOHRABJI GODREJ GREEN BUSINESS CENTRE, HYDERABAD. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

6.Gensler (2014). Gensler Tops Out on World’s Second Tallest Skyscraper: Shanghai Tower. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

7.Gensler (2021). Megataaaall Shanghai Tower enters final construction phase. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

8.Koichi Takada (2020). Koichi Takada Unveils World’s Most Dense Vertical Gardens, for a Mixed-Use Highrise in Brisbane, Australia. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].

9.Koichi Takada (2020). ls World’s Most Dense Vertical Gardens, for a Mixed-Use Highrise in Brisbane, Australia. Available at: [Accessed 14 May 2021].


Vajjrashri Anand is an architecture student who reads places and people like a story worth being told. She believes architecture is a lot like life; made of wonder, beauty and hurt. She strives to constantly evolve. A nuisance, a delight. A sting, a smile. She's a soul hugging one word at a time.