The Inclusion of Natural Elements in Building Design: The Role of Green Rating Systems

The Inclusion of Natural Elements in Building Design: The Role of Green Rating Systems

I. Oberti  F. Plantamura

Politecnico di Milano, Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering

1 February 2017
| Citation



The awareness of the heavy impact that the building sector exerts on the natural environment is now widely shared, leading to a wide spread of tools (rules, regulations, voluntary rating) to control and guide towards building environmental sustainability. In this shared vision, the natural environment is perceived essentially as an asset to protect. But nature is not just something to be protected, it is also a key factor to improve the quality of our built environment and our well-being. Numerous studies analyze the positive impact of the introduction of natural elements in building design (i.e. green walls, indoor green, aquatic elements, etc.), including: reduced energy consumption, improved IAQ, benefits on users’ attention capacity in office settings, stress-reducing effects in healthcare environments. However, despite this evidence, the use of natural elements in common building practice is still not quite widespread. There is therefore a need to promote awareness and use of the potential of the natural elements in design. This paper aims to assess and promote the enhancement of the natural elements in the voluntary green rating systems, as active tools in promoting environmental sustainability to all the actors of the building process. To this end, the study was developed through the following steps: 1. in the literature, identification of the elements of nature-based design with more evidence on environmental performance; 2. in green rating systems, identification of the weight given to the natural elements, evaluation of their current level of enhancement within the systems and identification of possible areas of development.


benefits, green systems, LEED, plants


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