Exploring the differences between green and conventional designs

A great example of sustainable, eco-friendly architecture’

Conventional architecture is a style of designing spaces with the intention of using current techniques and materials for construction, with less or zero focus on sustainability. On the other hand, green architecture is a designing approach, that implements the use of eco-friendly building materials and construction practices to reduce the harmful effects on our environment and promote good human health. To further understand both styles of architecture, a focused comparison is necessary. We will explore each design in terms of cost-effectiveness, efficient-use of natural resources, and the construction materials used.

So, these are a few things to consider before deciding on the architecture type for designing a space:


Concrete blocks, steel members, glass, are a few examples of conventional building materials. Since these materials are factory-made, they can be harmful to the environment as well as to human life. Additionally, there will be cost involved in transporting them from factories to the site. On the other hand, mass production of these materials means that they are usually available for a much lower price range than green building materials.

When it comes to green building materials, some examples include responsibly harvested wood, earth-blocks, stone, bricks, etc. These are highly durable, non-toxic and non-synthetic in nature and hence, offer healthier living conditions to the inhabitants. Transportation cost is negligible since they can often be sourced locally. Due to their many beneficial features and method of sourcing, green materials may come with a high-price tag. Another point to be noted here is that green building materials are recyclable and can be refurbished & reused economically.


Natural resource management deals with the efficient and effective use of earth’s natural resources to improve the overall quality of life.

  1. Lighting: In conventional designs natural lighting is not paid any special attention, therefore, lighting may be insufficient. This in turn leads to artificial sources of light being used extensively. Green architecture focuses on optimizing daylight via implementation of ingenious methods, like light wells, jaalis, courtyards, skylights, etc. Although sources of artificial light are installed here as well, they are required to be used only after the sunset.
  2. Ventilation: Conventionally, design is not focused on the aspect of natural cross-ventilation which leads to the dependence on secondary heating & cooling systems & appliances like ACs, coolers, fans, etc. This in turn increases electricity consumption. In green design, natural air circulation is prioritised; passive heating and cooling systems are incorporated in the initial stages of the design process itself. A good example of passive cooling system in green buildings is the method of cross-ventilation, or the practice of placing openings on opposite ends of a space to allow thorough circulation of fresh air.
  3. Water: In conventional buildings, water sources are limited to groundwater and municipal water supply. Therefore, water sourcing may become a problem when there is an acute water shortage, forcing the occupants to purchase water from tankers at a high price. Further, the absence of STP (Sewage Water Treatment) and RWH (Rain Water Harvesting) systems lead to injudicious use of water. For green buildings, alternative water-sources like rainwater can be harvested and water recycling/management systems like STPs can be incorporated. Since there is very less chance of water shortage, purchase of water at an additional cost is not necessary.


Heat transfer is maximum through conventional building materials like concrete, glass therefore, loss of cool air inside the building is greater. In conventionally designed buildings, non-renewable energy sources like coal, fossil fuels, etc. are used to a large extent. Though energy-efficient appliances can be installed, they will consume a lot of electricity due to the absence of alternative energy sources. All these factors result in higher energy consumption. The high consumption of electricity coupled with the increasing maintenance over time due to appliance errors, renovations, etc. will cost a lot.

Green buildings, on the other hand, can be powered by renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and bio-gas in addition to conservative energy sources. The energy-efficient appliances and fixtures used in such spaces also reduce the load on local power supply. And because heat transfer is minimised through the use of hollow core slabs, fillers slabs, etc. it is possible to retain cool air inside the building for longer periods of time. The efficient, durable appliances and construction materials used are more resistant to wear and tear. Therefore, green designs are not only energy-efficient but cost-effective too, in terms of long-term maintenance.


So, while conventional buildings focus mainly on the aesthetics and the strength of the structure alone, green buildings focus not only on the aesthetics of a space but its durability and strength, eco-friendliness, long-term cost-effectiveness, and efficient management of natural resources, among others.

Written: Varsha | Edited: Sanjay Jain