Architecture plays a significant role in influencing climate change. Our buildings, our cities and our infrastructure act as a catalyst in various environmental patterns and behaviours. Currently, a lot of emphases is placed on sustainable architecture and design, which is the way to move forward. Environmentally friendly materials, construction methods and building techniques are extensively being used. The approach is to design and build buildings and structures that can last longer without causing any detrimental effects on the environment and climate. 

There are some ways through which architecture and design can positively impact the climate.

Using biodegradable materials 

Biodegradable materials are suitable for the environment and can minimize the carbon footprint. One such example is that of mycelium. It is the vegetative part of the fungus and has an interwoven composition which makes it a strong material. The material is placed in moulds to form organic bricks that can be used as building blocks for various projects. Cork and bamboo are some of the other types of biodegradable materials.

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Use of local materials 

Using locally sourced materials is the key as time, energy and effort get saved. Transporting materials from one country to another generates massive carbon emissions that pollute the air. Using local and regional materials can minimize emissions and contribute to fast-paced projects. 

Switching from concrete to timber 

“Concrete is a major carbon emissions culprit as the four billion tons of cement produced each year for concrete production accounts for eight per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions, according to Dezeen.” Timber is an alternative to concrete as it has low energy criteria. Extensive use of timber must be complemented by large-scale agriculture and forestry. Sustainable options for timber include CLT (cross-laminated timber) which is widely used for furniture and spaces. 

Modular construction

Modular construction or off-site construction revolves around assembling the building using standard-size elements and components. This is an easy way to build structures and buildings and even minimizes wastage. Buildings are being delivered on a fast track due to these prefabricated parts and components. Elements can be customized as well.

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Reuse building materials

Every year, the construction industry sends hundreds of millions of tons of non-industrial waste to American landfills. A considerable proportion of this waste forms from the demolition of old projects to create space for new ones. Reusing building materials and components can be budget friendly and sustainable. It reduces greenhouse emissions. In the case of producing and manufacturing new materials, emissions are produced which can be avoided through this approach. As seen in Europe, contractors and owners have been approaching buildings as “material banks” that serve as temporary storehouses for materials that will be used in future projects.

Project’s Life Cycle

A project’s lifespan and lifecycle are very crucial and it should be thought about in its earliest stages. The aftermaths of the project on the environment must be considered as well. 

Digital Technology

Currently, there are several digital tools and implications that aid in design. One such tool is BIM, Building Information Modeling. It has the ability to measure and track a project’s impact well in advance. This also guides designers to make conscious decisions and measures to minimize the project’s footprint. Due to BIM, projects are delivered faster with no minimal material and energy wastage. 

Design for Humans and Nature

Designing buildings and structures for both humans and nature is a balanced approach. It should generate mutual befit for both and not cause harm to each other. 

Restorative architecture

Restorative architecture is also known as regenerative architecture. It revolves around structures and buildings that have a positive impact on their surroundings. Architect Pawyln’s project, The Sahara Forest Project in Qatar, is a seawater-cooled greenhouse structure that harvests fresh water in the desert. Excess water is used in its neighbouring landscapes and surroundings. 


Retrofitting or upgrading is a technique to improve the energy efficiency and thermal performance of a project. It is used to reduce or minimize its dependency on heating or cooling thereby reducing its carbon footprint. Sarah Wigglesworth, an architect and designer had designed a house in London that used retrofitting. This resulted in a decline of 62% in the project’s carbon dioxide emissions in a year. 

Optimize site potential

Optimizing the site’s potential to the maximum is a critical point in sustainable design. Noise, site location and orientation, neighbouring surroundings, close proximity to water and other elements contribute to the impact of energy consumption. For instance, based on a building’s orientation, its shading systems, technique and direction have to be considered.


Lizzie Crook |22 April 2021 Leave a comment (2021) Ten ways in which architecture is addressing climate change, Dezeen. Available at: (Accessed: November 14, 2022).

Addressing climate change through architecture – spot – blog (2020) SPOT. Available at: (Accessed: November 14, 2022).

Bahadursingh, A.N. (2020) 8 tangible ways architects can help combat the climate crisis – architizer journal, Journal. Available at: (Accessed: November 14, 2022).


Mahima Aswani is an architect and designer, who has worked on ambitious projects such as the Iraq Pavilion for Expo 2020 and high-end residential and commercial projects. Mahima’s thesis project, Goodbye Slumbai won the Community Design Award in the Senior Thesis Showcase at AUD, Dubai and was published in Dezeen magazine in 2021.