What is sustainable architecture and why is it important?

What is sustainable architecture and why is it important? Sustainable Architecture

As regulators, businesses and consumers become alarmed by the impact of human activity on the world and its potential consequence for the future, sustainability has become an important consideration in many disciplines, including architecture.

To make the built environment sustainable, architects now must create designs that excel in form and function during the construction process and for the lifetime of a building.

The benefits of sustainable design go much further though.

Done well, sustainable residential architecture enhances the mental well-being and overall quality of life of the people who live in them.

But what does sustainable architecture really mean?

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What is sustainable architecture?

At its simplest level, sustainable developments satisfy the needs of the present without jeopardising the ability of future generations to do the same.

Sustainable building achieves this goal by minimising negative environmental impacts from the outset to the fullest possible extent. It makes maximum use of natural materials as well as renewed recycled materials and prioritises efficient energy consumption.

When architects create buildings with environmental sustainability top of mind, they think about these issues. They consider construction methods as part of an overview of the entire building lifecycle. This extends from breaking ground on a project to the daily use of a building right through to how the building may be demolished in the far future.

Thinking 50 or more years ahead forces architects to think about how they can use current technology and the latest smart design thinking to minimise every conceivable impact on the environment.

How does this feed into the design process?

Imagine you’re planning to build your dream home on a picturesque coastal plot. The land is steep and covered with local flora and fauna, which makes construction challenging.

In a non-sustainable approach, you might flatten the site to make construction easier. By doing that, you irrevocably change the surrounding landscape and destroy much of the habitat for local flora and fauna.

You might use conventional building materials with no regard for their environmental impact or energy inefficiency. Moreover, you might install large glass windows so you have a panoramic view. But these windows will negatively impact energy efficiency because they allow excessive heat transfer.

The challenges and opportunities of sustainable building

Sustainable architecture delivers substantial benefits for all but it’s challenging to achieve. To stop global warming, architects, homeowners and developers find themselves in a critical position of having to make a positive choice for the planet.

The building design decisions we make now will determine the energy use of that property for decades to come. Your home might not be a skyscraper but single building small structures are just as important when we think about the future health of the Earth.

Navigating these complexities requires sustainable design experts. Architects whose design strategies consider environmental impact, functionality, and aesthetics in materials selection, the construction process and renewable technology.

The demand for greener homes has never been higher. This offers us all a golden opportunity to embrace sustainable architecture. At the same time, we need to create living spaces that improve our quality of life and protect our mental and emotional well-being.

Sustainable architecture is what we specialise in and are passionate about. To speak to us about your own project, please click on the “Speak to an architect” button below.

What questions would an architect consider when creating a sustainable structure?

  • Could the house be designed in a way that adapts to the steep terrain to preserve as much of the natural habitat as possible?
  • Could local, recycled or renewable materials be used to reduce the carbon footprint associated with their transport and production?
  • How can the home maximise natural ventilation and light so it doesn’t require as much air conditioning and artificial lighting?
  • Can we incorporate sustainable materials and elements like energy-efficient windows to address environmental challenges?
  • What about roof gardens which can reduce solar heat gain inside a building?

For homeowners and property developers passionate about climate change, integrating sustainable architectural principles into their project designs is a clear demonstration of commitment to environmental stewardship.

Why is sustainable architecture important?

According to the UN Environment Global Status Report 2017, buildings and construction account for over 35% of global energy usage and nearly 40% of energy-related CO2 emissions.

The planet is unable to cope if we continue to add to the built environment in the ways we have traditionally done so. Sustainable architecture is an integral part of creating an eco-friendly future for our communities.

At our practice, we have seen how, in recent years, private homeowners and property developers are keen to build in sustainability from the outset. They look to WindsorPatania to strike the balance between aesthetics, practicality and integration into natural surroundings. That’s for new builds and existing buildings.

Integrating sustainability issues into residential architecture has three significant benefits:

  • Environmental: Sustainable architectural design reduces carbon emissions and preserves the character of surrounding natural habitats.
  • Economic: The use of renewable energy sources and sustainable technologies like air source heat pumps and low-flow water fixtures to reduce water usage offer substantial savings and enhance future resale value.
  • Emotional: Sustainable architecture that incorporates biophilic design philosophies (the “Green building” movement) promotes greater comfort and has enhanced aesthetic appeal, providing an exceptional living experience that is in harmony with nature.

For example, incorporating solar panels gives you more control over your own energy production. Green roofs can enhance biodiversity, improve air quality, provide thermal insulation and also add a touch of natural beauty to the urban landscape.

The advantages of sustainable architecture

Environmental

  • Energy-efficient use of natural and recycled materials
  • Protection and restoration of ecosystems
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants

Economic

  • Long-term economic benefits including asset value upgrades
  • Reduced running and maintenance costs (e.g. through use of renewable energy sources)
  • Minimised demand on local infrastructure

Emotional

  • Enhanced natural light and access to outdoor spaces
  • Better mental well-being through biophilic design advantages
  • Improved inhabitant productivity and comfort

The design process when creating a sustainable building

Architects and their clients must think decades ahead to make a construction project a truly sustainable development.

Should you, for example, choose cross-laminated timber (CLT) over traditional concrete because of its claimed lower CO2 emissions? The environmental impact of your decision isn’t just beneficial for the here and now; you’re securing a greener future too. Bamboo is an increasingly popular element in sustainable architecture projects.

Reduced waste and energy consumption should be at the core of your architectural design. We should choose renewable building materials, incorporate space-efficient designs and include passive solar elements.

And it’s not just about today. Plan for the reuse or repurposing of structures beyond their initial use. It’s not just about being environmentally conscious at this moment but planning for a sustainable future.

For example, WindsorPatania designed Eden House with sustainability in mind incorporating 106 solar panels and a ground source heat pump. The project also has a home biogas unit to properly dismantle waste from the kitchen.

The challenges and opportunities

Architects and their clients must think decades ahead to make a construction project a truly sustainable development.

Sustainable architecture delivers substantial benefits for all but it’s challenging to achieve. To stop global warming, architects, homeowners and developers find themselves in a critical position of having to make a positive choice for the planet.

The building design decisions we make now will determine the energy use of that property for decades to come. Your home might not be a skyscraper but single building small structures are just as important when we think about the future health of the Earth.

Navigating these complexities requires sustainable design experts. Architects whose design strategies consider environmental impact, functionality, and aesthetics in materials selection, the construction process and renewable technology.

The demand for greener homes has never been higher. This offers us all a golden opportunity to embrace sustainable architecture. At the same time, we need to create living spaces that improve our quality of life and protect our mental and emotional well-being.

Sustainable architecture is what we specialise in and are passionate about. To speak to us about your own project, please click on the “Speak to an architect” button below.

 

 

 

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