Over the years sustainable architecture has taken on many different names and forms. What makes architecture sustainable varies widely and can include anything from a building which is constructed entirely of recycled materials to being one which is powered completely by the sun.
By following sustainable principles, architects are able to create environmentally sound and energy efficient buildings which promote conservation and a consideration of environmental impacts and historical preservation. Essentially, the entire life cycle of the building and its component parts are considered along with the economic and environmental impact the building will have on its surroundings.
Harness natural energy
The argument here is that humans, like the living world, should use energy from perpetual resources such as the sun and wind when it comes to harnessing energy and attempt to derive their inspiration from these when it comes to creating sustainable designs.
The aim should be to eliminate all aspects of waste and to utilise the full lifecycle of all products and processes. A focus on using renewable energy sources together with a concerted effort to conserve water with wastewater management system and attempts to collect and harvest rainwater should be central to sustainable design.
Use local, natural materials
An unnecessarily high carbon footprint is created when buildings are designed using materials which have travelled from far afield and you have less control over how these materials are harvested. By only building with local materials you’ll significantly reduce your carbon footprint and help the local economy. Natural building materials can help to promote day lighting and provide superior quality acoustics unlike other materials which require adjustments in order to achieve the same levels of quality.
Understand the limitations of design
Nothing we design lasts forever and those responsible for design should practice humility in
the face of nature, treating it has a model and not an inconvenience or an obstacle which has to be overcome. The key here is to establish clear communication, cooperation and coloration between architects, engineers, contractors and ultimately the end user. After all, it’s pointless creating a stunning, highly energy efficient building if it has little or no connection with the people who use it.
Seek continual improvement
Through the sharing of knowledge and open communication we can begin to understand more and link together long term sustainable considerations with the ethical responsibilities we all have. By creating sustainable buildings we can enrich lives and provide a healthier working and living environment through the use of non-toxic building materials.