Sustainable Architecture Ideas That Can Improve Our Lives

. 6 min read
Sustainable Architecture Ideas That Can Improve Our Lives

How Do You Create A Sustainable Architecture?

  • In recent years, the sustainability movement is being seen everywhere-from food, fashion, and even in our homes.
  • Any object that is termed ‘sustainable’ must show ecological awareness in its form and functionality.
  • Sustainable design is the way of the future, and will positively impact our society.

What Is Sustainable Architecture?

  1. Sustainable architecture is the art and practice of designing and making buildings by employing materials, resources, and energy in such a manner, to minimise harm to the ecosystem and the environment.
  2. It can be used to build anything, from houses and libraries to multi-storied offices and schools.
  3. In this era of climate change, more and more importance is given to ‘green’ buildings than to ‘beautiful’ buildings.
  4. The sustainable architecture concept is rooted in ancient building practices, which is now finding a renewed interest in the light of climate change emergency.
  5. If we break down our CO2 emissions worldwide, it is clear that buildings and energy are two sectors where we need to do better.
  6. 36% of global energy is devoted to buildings and building and construction account for 39% of energy-related CO2 emission in the world.
  7. In sustainable architecture, architects aim to reduce this CO2  production by incorporating eco-friendly methods during the planning and construction stage.
  8. They are researching building materials with the potential to reduce the carbon footprint-materials as varied as recycled hemp biomass (a by-product of fabric production), lime, recovered cardboard, and sand are being seen as replacements for cement.
  9. India is set to urbanise rapidly in the next few decades.
  10. But unless we build correctly, we will create huge energy and resource shortages in the country.
  11. Following some simple building practices, we can drastically reduce our energy needs, making for a more sustainable way to urbanise.

Characteristics Of Sustainable Architecture

  1. Uses renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy to reduce energy wastage.
  2. They are able to continue for a long time.
  3. It is a global way of designing a building taking into account the composition of the soil, the material to use and their impact on the environment, and local climate.
  4. These buildings create as much energy as they consume, so the net effect is zero.

What Are The Benefits Of Sustainable Architecture?

  • Positively impact air quality by taking carbon out of the atmosphere.
  • Reduces the negative environmental impact.
  • Helps in preserving resources. The materials employed are completely reusable.
  • Increases the energy efficiency of buildings.
  • Has a positive impact on the comfort, health, and liveability of the residents.
  • Reduces construction waste.

Disadvantages of sustainable architecture

  1. The initial building costs more initially.
  2. Eco-friendly and green building materials are often difficult to find.
  3. Sometimes it is difficult to get financing from banks, since the concept is relatively new.

Sustainable Energy Ideas in Architecture

The following features can reduce the energy needs of buildings and make them more sustainable:

By Passive Methods

  • Built right, roofs can help reduce the energy and resource requirements of a building drastically.
  • Roofs, domes, and walls can be designed to reduce the quantity of steel required, dramatically.
  • Architects use many techniques to reduce the energy needs of buildings and enable them to generate their energy.
  • The use of materials like Vermiculite and white tiles provide additional insulation from heat.
  • Windows when placed correctly, can also keep a building cooler during summers and warmer during winters.
  • Site analysis considers climate and sun orientation while positioning windows can maximise the use of daylight and natural ventilation.
  • In cold locations, the tiles and glazing of the roof can be positioned in the south direction to catch the maximum sunlight.
  • In hot locations, it is best to reduce the size and number of windows on the west side of the house, to reduce the temperature inside.
  • These are among the various measures that can bring down the energy needs of a building passively.
  • The cost of Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning ( HVAC ) in a well-insulated building is considerably cheaper than a normal building.
  • To make passive heating and cooling work even more efficiently, you can install an open rainscreen to allow air to vent through your siding.

By Active Methods

  1. When the energy demand of a building has been reduced, it is possible to meet that demand using renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy.
  2. Architects consult with electrical and mechanical engineers to implement HVAC and high-efficiency electrical systems which do not cause harm to the environment.
  3. HVAC systems are powered by motors.
  4. Solar panels and photovoltaic cells can be used to harness sunlight to create electricity for buildings and heat water.
  5. They are perfectly oriented to catch the sunshine.

Designing With Nature

  • Architects are highlighting nature in their designs and acknowledging the importance of things like breezes, sun paths, and trees.
  • In schools, outdoor structures are built surrounding trees, so that kids can climb them and also admire them from their classrooms.
  • Creepers and vines have a high shading coefficient in the summer and a low one in the winter.
  • So, they can be used in the place of a mechanical shade in buildings.
  • The building gets a flexible shade, and the creepers get a home!

Sustainable Architecture Scope

Sustainable architecture holds out immense potential, some of which are discussed below:

Repurposing Already Existing Buildings

  1. Construction and demolition debris contribute to a huge amount of waste materials.
  2. Historic houses can be transformed into hotel suites in an environment-friendly way.
  3. It also saves energy costs that would have been otherwise incurred in constructing a new building.
  4. Restoring old bridges and industrial buildings is another eco-friendly way to bridge the gap between the old and new.
  5. We should upgrade existing structures for extended use as a more carbon-efficient alternative to demolition.
  6. For entrepreneurs, these offer a good financial investment.

Addressing Housing Shortage

  • To address the problems of the global housing shortage, architects are designing modular units that are meant to be repurposed and never demolished.
  • Meant mainly to accommodate young people, they can be rejigged and relocated, and also turned into office buildings.

Green Buildings

  1. Green buildings require less heat dissipating or generating power.
  2. You can use bricks with low carbon footprints, made from sustainable wood rather than concrete.
  3. They are cheaper than traditional bricks and are of better quality.
  4. Architects provide for several ecological devices in these buildings.
  5. You can install rainwater harvesting systems to collect and reuse rainwater.
  6. It can be a simple pond at the lowest point of the property where the water can easily collect.
  7. Environmental standards such as Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) offer guidelines to architects on designing sustainable buildings.

Sustainable Architecture In India

  • The practice of sustainable architecture in India is very limited, compared to developed countries.
  • India has the potential to lead the Global Green Building Movement in both the public and private sectors.
  • Following ecological principles of the building can make our cities sustainable in the long run.
  • Sustainable architecture is not a new thing in India.
  • An old example of this is ‘Kath Kuni’ architecture which can be seen in Himachal Pradesh, regions of which see a lot of variation in climate.
  • They have warm summers and cold winters.
  • Since 64% of the land area is covered by forests, wood is the predominant construction material.
  • Other building materials used are mud and stone.
  • This type of architecture is very adaptable and is seen in houses, granaries, temples, etc.
  • Their heavy walls allow a very good thermal insulation by providing a high time-lag of more than 8 hours.
  • Many architecture firms in India are practicing sustainable and vernacular architecture examples of which can be seen in numerous homes across the country.
  • Our ancient civilisation from the days of the Egyptian Pyramids teaches us to live in harmony with nature and create a balance between economic development and environmental protection.
  • Sustainable architecture doesn’t decrease Earth’s bio-capacity but exists in harmony with it.
  • Half of the country’s population will live in cities and towns by 2050, providing a golden opportunity to ‘green architects’ and the construction ecosystem.

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