The development and progress made by man in building his dwelling with mud, clay, and stones to bricks, concrete, and other building materials made the development of architecture and construction develop at a rapid rate. However, these changes have a great positive impact on humanity, on the contrary, on the surrounding ecosystem. This evolution, with the benefits that come with it, causes severe damage to the ecosystem that requires millions of years to recoup and can lead to vulnerability to disasters and tragedies, now and in the future. Climate change, carbon emissions, greenhouse gases, loss of biodiversity, unmanageable pollution, and shortage of resources; are all some of the impacts of ecosystem destruction.
The built environment generates around 50% of annual global CO2 emissions. Of those total emissions, building operations are responsible for 27% annually, while building materials and construction are responsible for an additional 20% annually. Today, sustainability or “eco-friendly“, has become a concept that is firmly rooted in the minds of both individuals and companies. Building a clean, sustained environment in public buildings is basically a long-term plan that has to be efficient on the social, environmental, and economic levels. However, it comes at high initial costs but has long-term benefits in both building performance and low-cost maintenance, as well as a positive impact on both the environment and the building occupants.
Sustainable Architecture Strategies | Building Design
With the growing awareness of the need for sustainability, in 1922, the first international attempt to develop action plans and strategies to move towards a more sustainable development pattern was launched. More and more sustainable architecture rating systems are established, and more strategies are being implemented in public building designs. These design strategies mainly focus on:
- optimize site potential
- minimize non-renewable energy consumption
- use environmentally preferable products
- protect and conserve water
- enhance indoor environmental quality
- optimize operational and maintenance practices
When designing public buildings with sustainability in the plan, you can implement the following sustainable architecture strategies:
- Integrative Design Process (IDP)
It is a comprehensive process focusing on the design as a system rather than a set of different and isolated components. This method provides high-performance buildings, more adaptability, and flexibility during the entire process, which will avoid the high costs of misleading isolated decisions.
- Passive Solar Energy
It relies on the orientation of the building and the thermal mass of the structure’s exterior walls. The building walls can reflect, transmit, or absorb solar radiation when sunlight strikes a building. These basic responses to solar heat lead to design elements, material choices, and placements of openings that can provide heating and cooling effects in the building.
- Renewable Energy Source.
There are eligible types of renewable energy, including those that use the sun, such as the solar energy system and photo-voltaic cells, and wind power is a great option for public buildings.
- Using Native Landscaping
Using a specific type of plantation will affect many sustainable factors. Using trees, plants, and grasses native to the area is always the best solution, as it can drastically reduce the irrigation needs and will reduce the solar heat gain inside the building.
- Installing Water-Efficient Faucets and Faucet accessories
Low-flow faucet aerators are an easy way to reduce overall water use. Automation and motion sensors can control the amount of water required as it won’t allow the water to be wasted.
- Allow More Natural Lighting in the Building
Whether by using a skylight or sloping walls that allow sunlight spread deeper inside the building, this strategy creates a healthy environment and will reduce the energy demand for lighting during daylight hours. The glazing must be made with a safety system and should put in mind the U-value and shading coefficient and visible transmittance.
- Maximize Open Space
Creating an open space will allow increasing the connectivity to nature and the landscape overall, which will lead to a healthier environment and create a social gathering area for enjoying the nature view.
- Using Locally produced Materials
Purchasing of local materials reduces carbon generation resulting from manufacturing, supply, construction, and disposal processes after consumption in landfills. Analysis of the product’s Life Cycle Assessment ensures that positive values are recognized in line with environmental, economic, and social impacts. This helps in the evaluation and selection of the proper material, whether it is steel, lumber, concrete, or finishing materials, such as carpets and furnishings from companies that use environmentally responsible manufacturing techniques or recycled materials.
Through the 20th century, the development of technology in the field of construction and architecture harmed the environment and biodiversity on Earth. This made sustainability a “Saving Procedure” not just a trend. Now, with the increasing awareness of sustainability becoming a concept, we can hear phrases like, go green, act green, be eco-friendly, etc; which have become much more popular slogans that encapsulate the idea of sustainable architectural design.
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