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Sustainability First

How to Create a Sustainable Building

Today, one of the most important concepts in many industries, including building and construction, is sustainability.

Sayjel Vijay Patel
July 13, 2021
Sustainability First

How to Create a Sustainable Building

Today, one of the most important concepts in many industries, including building and construction, is sustainability. The goal of sustainability is to ensure that our actions help to reduce harm to the environment and ensure both the current and future generations can enjoy the planetary resources. Because of this focus, more sustainable architectural designs are being created and implemented in both public and private facilities. So, what is a sustainable building design

What is Sustainability in Building Design? 

To understand what sustainability in building design is, let us go back to the beginning. The term sustainability can be traced back to 1992, during the first-ever United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNICED). During this meeting, and the subsequent ones, especially the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which was held ten years later in South Africa, member states agreed that a new approach, sustainability, was required to ensure that people, businesses, institutions, and governments adopt structures for protecting the environment. The ideas have also been adopted by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the mostly adopted green building rating system on the globe. 

Here, we have to indicate the term “sustainability” does not just mean the environment. Instead, it means the holistic realm of the ecosystem, which includes the environment, social, and economic pillars. In building and design, sustainability means using architectural designs that help to reduce environmental, social, and economic impacts. 

To make your building design sustainable, it is important to think about the term broadly and incorporate elements that help to protect the environment, enhance social justice, and remain economically viable. Think of house projects designed with plants on the rooftop. In addition to helping absorb carbon dioxide, the plants also increase aesthetic appeal. See- the house stops being your residential unit only but further serves as a home to insects and a source of food to others. 

Why is Sustainable Building Design Important? 

More people are shifting to sustainable building designs because they provide the unique feeling of being part of the community working towards addressing the challenges, such as global warming, facing the globe. Other benefits of a sustainable building include: 

  • Helps to cut the cost of construction because building a sustainable house is cheaper than a standard house. Even when the cost is high because of buying materials such as solar panels, in line with LEED standards, the overall cost will be lower in the long term. 
  • Improved health. Green buildings that are created with ample open spaces, incorporate plants in their designs, and created with sustainable materials are energy efficient, and healthier for both animals and people. For example, people will not be at risk of suffering from asbestos-related respiratory issues when sustainable materials are used. 
  • Higher productivity. With environmentally friendly workplaces, workers perform better compared to those operating in standard facilities. The ultimate impact is higher productivity. 
  • Waste minimization. If you take a closer look at a place such as Europe, one of the facts that might surprise you is that construction wastes account for 34.7% of the entire continent's wastes. Because sustainable architecture advocates for the use of renewable material, it will be easy to cut the levels of wastes from the region with a huge margin. 

These are only a few of the benefits to anticipate from sustainable building designs. Others include noise avoidance, environmental protection, better life quality, and higher demand for your houses. 

Creating a Sustainable Building 

Now that you know what a sustainable architecture is and also got the long list of associated benefits, it is time to create one. So, how do you go creating sustainable building projects? The secret is following the fundamental principles of sustainability in building design: 

  • Optimize the Site Potential 

The first step in designing a sustainable building is selecting the right site, which should include considerations for rehabilitating the current buildings. Note that the actual location of the building and its orientation greatly impacts the immediate ecosystems, energy use, and transportation methods. When you ingrain the smart growth principles into your design, it becomes easy to optimize the building potential. For example, you can use the design to support native flora and fauna. 

  • Optimize the Use of Energy 

As the demand for fossil fuels keeps increasing, one of the sustainable methods of addressing the issue is optimizing the available energy. For example, you can increase energy efficiency and reduce energy load. You can even go ahead and include the use of green energy sources, such as solar. 

  • Enhance the Indoor Environment 

The indoor environment of a building plays a huge impact in the occupant's health, productivity, and comfort. To make the environment healthy, you should maximize day-lighting, avoiding building materials with high-volatile organic compounds and intensifying acoustic performance

  • Conserve Water 

In many parts of the world, a lot of people still lack access to clean water. Because a building alters the hydrological and ecological functions of the adjacent land, a sustainable building design should focus on minimizing the amount of impervious cover that can impact the movement of water. Furthermore, you should encourage recycling water on-site to reduce the damage caused to the ecosystem. 

  • Optimize Material Use 

As the world population continues growing rapidly, the expectation is that consumption of natural resources will also increase. With the population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, concerns have emerged about the expected stress on available resources. In line with the definition of sustainability, which calls for efficient and equitable sharing of planetary resources, it will be a great idea to optimize the available resources. For example, you might want to recommend the use of materials that can be reused, whether for building or other purposes. If you do this, it implies that you will have increased the utility of materials and saved others for future generations. 

As architects or planning professionals, how well we handle the planet determines whether we accelerate it towards further destruction or are partakers in rebuilding it. Using sustainable building designs, it is possible to halt the different challenges facing the globe and make it a better place for all. Therefore, select one of the methods that we have listed in this post, and focus on this noble duty. Why destroy the planet for our siblings and future generations?

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