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Free TOEFL Reading Test with Answers 5

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This page will help you practise for the TOEFL reading test. This section has a reading passage about the design of green buildings and 11 questions. Think carefully before you select an answer.

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Read the text and answer the questions.

1) There has, in recent years, been an outpouring of information about the impact of buildings on the natural environment; Information which explains and promotes green and sustainable construction design, strives to convince others of its efficacy and warns of the dangers of ignoring the issue. Seldom do these documents offer any advice to practitioners, such as those designing mechanical and electrical systems for a building, on how to utilise this knowledge on a practical level. 

2) While the terms green and sustainable are often considered synonymous, in that they both symbolise nature, green does not encompass all that is meant by sustainability, which can be defined as minimizing the negative impacts of human activities on the natural environment, in particular those which have long-term and irreversible effects. Some elements of green design may be sustainable too, for example those which reduce energy usage and pollution, while others, such as ensuring internal air quality, may be considered green despite having no influence on the ecological balance.  

3) Although there are a good many advocates of ‘green’ construction in the architectural industry, able to cite ample reasons why buildings should be designed in a sustainable way, not to mention a plethora of architectural firms with experience in green design, this is not enough to make green construction come into being.  The driving force behind whether a building is constructed with minimal environmental impact lies with the owner of the building; that is, the person financing the project. If the owner considers green design unimportant, or of secondary importance, then more than likely, it will not be factored into the design.

4) The commissioning process plays a key role in ensuring the owner gets the building he wants, in terms of design, costs and risk. At the predesign stage, the owner’s objectives, criteria and the type of design envisaged are discussed and documented. This gives a design team a solid foundation on which they can build their ideas, and also provides a specific benchmark against which individual elements, such as costs, design and environmental impact can be judged.

5) Owners who skip the commissioning process, or fail to take ‘green’ issues into account when doing so, often come a cropper once their building is up and running. Materials and equipment are installed as planned, and, at first glance, appear to fulfil their purpose adequately.  However, in time, the owner realises that operational and maintenance costs are higher than necessary, and that the occupants are dissatisfied with the results. These factors in turn lead to higher ownership costs as well as increased environmental impact.

6) In some cases, an owner may be aware of the latest trends in sustainable building design. He may have done research into it himself, or he may have been informed of the merits of green design through early discussion with professionals. However, firms should not take it as read that someone commissioning a building already has a preconceived idea of how green he intends the structure to be. Indeed, this initial interaction between owner and firm is the ideal time for a designer to outline and promote the ways that green design can meet the client’s objectives, thus turning a project originally not destined for green design into a potential candidate.

7) Typically, when considering whether or not to adopt a green approach, an owner will ask about additional costs, return for investment and to what extent green design should be the limiting factor governing decisions in the design process. (1) Many of these costs are incurred by the increased cooperation between the various stakeholders, such as the owner, the design professionals, contractors and end-users. (2) However, in green design, they must be involved from the outset, since green design demands interaction between these disciplines. (3) This increased coordination clearly requires additional expenditure. (4) A client may initially balk at these added fees, and may require further convincing of the benefits if he is to proceed. It is up to the project team to gauge the extent to which a client wants to get involved in a green design project and provide a commensurate service.

8) Of course, there may be financial advantage for the client in choosing a greener design. Case studies cite examples of green / sustainable designs which have demonstrated lower costs for long-term operation, ownership and even construction. Tax credits and rebates are usually available on a regional basis for projects with sustainable design or low emissions, among others.


1  The writer’s main purpose is to…

explain to professionals how they can influence clients to choose greener designs.
explain the importance of green building design in reducing long-term damage to the environment.
explain to owners commissioning a building why ignoring green issues is costly and dangerous.
explain to professionals why it is important to follow the correct procedures when a building is commissioned.

2  The examples of green and sustainable designs given in paragraph 2 show that

designs must be sustainable in order for them to be described as green.
for the purposes of this paper, the terms green and sustainable have the same meaning.
some sustainable designs are green, while others are not.
some designs are termed green, even though they are not sustainable.

3  According to paragraph 3, the reason for the lack of green buildings being designed is that…

few firms have any experience in design and constructing buildings to a green design.
construction companies are unaware of the benefits of green and sustainable designs.
firms do not get to decide whether a building is to be constructed sustainably.
firms tend to convince clients that other factors are more important than sustainability.

4  Which of the following is NOT true about the commissioning process?

It is conducted before the building is designed.
It is a stage that all clients go through when constructing a building.
It is a step in the design procedure in which the client’s goals are identified.
It provides the firm with a measure of how well they did their job.

5  In paragraph 5, what does the phrase ‘come a cropper’ mean?

experience misfortune
change one’s mind
notice the benefits
make a selection

6  In paragraph 6, the writer implies that…

most clients enter the commissioning process with a clear idea of whether or not they want a green building.
designers are usually less concerned about green design than the clients are.
the commissioning process offers a perfect opportunity to bring up the subject of green design.
firms should avoid working with clients who reject green designs in their buildings.

7  Where in paragraph 7 does this sentence belong?
In a typical project, landscape architects and mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers do not become involved until a much later stage.

1
2
3
4

8  In paragraph 7, what does ‘balk at’ mean?

display shock towards
agree to pay
question the reason for
understand the need for

9  Green buildings are most likely to incur more expense than conventional buildings due to…

higher taxes incurred on sustainable buildings.
higher long-term operational costs.
the higher cost of green construction materials.
increased coordination between construction teams.

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