Overview of Economics in Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable architecture involves designing and constructing buildings that have a minimal negative impact on the environment, use energy and resources efficiently, and promote social and economic sustainability.  Economics is a key factor in sustainable architecture since it affects choices made regarding building materials, construction techniques, and energy sources.

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Economics in Sustainable Architecture _©httpswww.wbcsd.orgOverviewNews-InsightsWBCSD-insightsThe-construction-sector-can-pave-the-way-for-a-green-economic-recovery

Cost-benefit analysis, lifecycle costing, and the economics of sustainable development are among the economic theories that are pertinent to sustainable design. Sustainable design aims to strike a balance between economic, social, and environmental factors to make sure that structures are both inexpensive and sustainable.

An important economic method for assessing the financial viability of sustainable architectural projects is cost-benefit analysis. It entails weighing the benefits of lower energy consumption, better indoor air quality, and other environmental and social advantages against the costs of building, operation, and maintenance. The most economical design and building techniques are determined by architects and builders with the aid of this analysis.

Another crucial economic aspect of sustainable architecture is lifecycle costing. It entails taking into account a building’s whole lifecycle, from design and construction to use and final decommissioning. This comprises the expenses incurred over the course of a structure’s existence for the upkeep, repair, and replacement of building systems and materials. By anticipating these costs, architects and builders can choose the most affordable and environmentally friendly materials and systems.

The triple bottom line of economic, social, and environmental sustainability is one of the principles of sustainable development that is fundamental to sustainable architecture. These principles mandate that architects and builders take into account how their choices will affect the environment, the neighbourhood, and the economy in the long run. Architects and builders can design buildings that are environmentally friendly, socially ethical, and economically successful by applying these concepts to their plans.

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Architects must create structures with the least possible environmental impact _©httpswww.weforum.orgagenda202205rethinking-buildings-is-a-climate-imperative-here-s-what-to-focus-on

Architecture should take both sustainability and economics into account. Building design and construction practices can have a big impact on the environment and the project’s potential to make money.

When constructing a structure, architects must take economic variables like cost, efficiency, and return on investment into account. This may entail making decisions concerning the usage of energy, building materials, and construction methods that may eventually affect the project’s financial performance. Economic advantages of sustainable design practices include lower operating expenses during the building’s lifetime. 

In order to practice sustainable development, architects must create structures with the least possible environmental impact. This can involve the use of renewable and energy-efficient materials and methods, as well as the design of structures that minimise waste and pollution. Green roofs and water harvesting systems are examples of natural elements that can be used in sustainable design.

Sustainable design may assist both the economy and the environment while also enhancing building inhabitants’ quality of life. Architects may encourage productivity and well-being by creating comfier and healthier buildings.

Challenges to Implementing Economics and Sustainable Development in Architecture

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Economic sustainability _©httpscareers.snclavalin.comblogs2022-3three-pillars-of-sustainability-and-the-built-environment

There are various obstacles to integrating economics and sustainable development into architecture, including:

  • Cost: One of the main obstacles is the price of using sustainable building materials and techniques. It can be challenging for architects to include sustainable materials and technologies in their designs without raising the project’s overall cost because they are frequently more expensive than conventional materials and technology.
  • Lack of knowledge: One further issue is that clients, developers, and architects do not have a good understanding of sustainable practices. Many architects might not be knowledgeable about the most recent sustainable construction techniques and technology, making it difficult for them to inform their clients about the advantages of sustainable development.
  • Complexity: Sustainable development necessitates a comprehensive strategy that takes into account a wide range of variables, such as waste minimization, water conservation, and energy efficiency. It may be difficult for architects to strike a balance between all of these elements and incorporate them into their designs.
  • Rules and guidelines: Different regions may have different rules and guidelines for sustainable development, which can make it challenging for architects to navigate and adhere to these requirements.
  • Client resistance to change: It can be difficult for architects to include sustainable practices in their designs since certain clients may be resistant to change and may prefer conventional building materials and designs.
  • Limited resources: It may be difficult for architects to incorporate sustainable practices and technologies due to a lack of resources, particularly time and funds.

Case study | Sustainable Development

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The Green School in Bali, Indonesia _©httpswww.greenqueen.com.hkgreen-school-bali-recognised-world-economic-forum-future-schools-report
  1. The Green School in Bali, Indonesia: This private institution was created with an emphasis on environmental education and sustainability. The school’s structures are constructed from bamboo that is locally obtained, and they have composting toilets, natural lighting and ventilation, and rainwater collection. Compared to a typical school, the Green School’s ecological design resulted in a 60% decrease in building costs.
The Edge Is the Greenest, Most Intelligent Building in the World _©httpswww.bloomberg.comfeatures2015-the-edge-the-worlds-greenest-building
  1. The Edge in Amsterdam, Netherlands: The Edge was created to be the most energy-efficient office building in the world. It is a very sustainable office structure. It has a cutting-edge design with solar panels, a rainwater collection system, and smart lighting that adapts to resident demands. Energy use has decreased by 70% as a result of the building’s sustainability measures, which translates into significant cost savings for its tenants.

Overview of Strategies for Integrating Economics and Sustainable Development in Architecture

Passive design techniques _©httpsarchi-monarch.com

Architecture must incorporate economics and sustainable development in order to design structures that are both environmentally and commercially responsible. To achieve this integration, a number of ways might be used:

(LCA) Life Cycle Assessment: LCA is a tool that may be used to assess a building’s environmental effects over the course of its full life cycle. The building’s operation, maintenance, and eventual disposal are all taken into account, as well as the energy and materials consumed during construction. Architects can find ways to minimise expenses while also lessening the building’s impact on the environment by undertaking an LCA.

Passive Design Techniques: Passive design techniques are ways to heat, cool, and light a building using only natural sources of energy. Utilising natural ventilation, increasing sunshine, and positioning the building to take advantage of the sun’s movement throughout the day are a few examples of these tactics. Passive design techniques can improve the comfort and health of an indoor environment while lowering a building’s energy consumption and running costs.

Certified green buildings: Building research establishment environmental assessment methods (BREEAM) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications offer a framework for planning and constructing buildings that are both economically feasible and environmentally responsible. These certifications frequently demand the use of eco-friendly building materials, energy-saving technologies, and other green building practices. Achieving certification can enhance a building’s value and marketability.

Cost-Benefit Analysis: Cost-benefit analysis examines the financial costs and advantages of putting sustainable design principles into practice. This research can be used by architects to find ways to cut costs and increase a building’s financial viability while also pursuing sustainability objectives.

Renewable Energy Systems: To produce on-site renewable energy, a building’s design can incorporate renewable energy systems like solar panels or wind turbines. These solutions have the potential to lower a building’s energy costs and carbon footprint.


  1. 2.0 the economic benefits of sustainable design – energy. Available at: https://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/pdfs/buscase_section2.pdf (Accessed: April 19, 2023). 
  2. Long Term Economic Benefits of sustainable design  Long term economic benefits of sustainable design | CP Kukreja. Available at: https://www.cpkukreja.com/long-term-economic-benefits-of-sustainable-design.html (Accessed: April 19, 2023). 
  3. The importance of sustainability in architecture and economy  IAAC Blog. Available at: https://www.iaacblog.com/programs/the-importance-of-sustainability-in-architecture-and-economy/ (Accessed: April 19, 2023). 
  4. Sustainable Architecture Design: Environmental and Economic Benefits. Available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/honors/638/ (Accessed: April 19, 2023).