Architecture is a reflection of our society and as such evolves in tandem with changes and emerging needs. Now that we are well into the 21st Century one of the most important ones is achieving sustainability in all fields, including architecture. Today we are going to explain some of the key ways to achieve a sustainable architecture, one that is respectful of our planet.
Greater energy efficiency
In architecture it is crucial to guarantee the energy we introduce to heat our buildings / homes isn’t wasted. To better understand it’s like getting our buildings to behave like a thermostatic flask filled with coffee which manages to retain the heat over the day by avoiding the transmission of heat through the exterior surface. To do so the careful design of the container and the correct thermal insulation is key, avoiding thermal bridges (points of connection where heat can escape).
Back in 2010 Energy Certification came into being for buildings and the European Union established seven efficiency typologies: From A to G, ranging from greater to lesser sustainability.
A good building orientation that allows for the capture of solar energy by taking advantage of orientations with greater sun exposure while at the same time protecting colder orientations can save up to 30% of energy consumption.
There is nothing like natural light and that’s something that should always be taken into account. Natural lighting is one of the environmental factors that most affects architectural design and thanks to it we can offer a better user experience, greater wellbeing … as well as significant energy savings by simply not having to turn on the lights during the day.
But at the same time it’s important to study solar radiation effects in order to utilise solar protection, avoiding overheating of the building and not having to use energy for cooling purposes.
In the same way it’s important to use high quality windows and glass which ensures that heat energy doesn’t escape.
Using sustainable materials
The materials that have been used traditionally from the time of the Industrial Revolution during the 19th Century require enormous reliance on natural resources and energy consumption for their transformation making them one of the greatest offenders in green house gas emissions.
So then it is essential to implement the construction of buildings using materials that are much less contaminating and more sustainable for the planet. It’s extremely important that the impact of new construction is minimised as much as possible. By promoting the use of sustainable materials such as stone, wood, and other recyclable materials.
Using for example organic thermal insulation made from wood fibres sourced from saw mills, hill clearing or from the manufacture of furniture are among the great options given that it involves the recycling of organic waste and complies with insulation standards.
Timber is key to producing sustainable contemporary architecture. High rise buildings are already being made using laminated structural timber.
Its benefits are listed below:
- Superior fire resistance behaviour.
- A sustainable material. For every tree felled for use in construction another new one is planted.
- It is also a very healthy material, no noxious substances or gasses are emitted.
- Greater useful life span: it lasts for a long time and requires little maintenance.
Opt for renewable energy!
This alternative is not only helpful to the natural environment but also assists in reducing your energy bills.
There also exist sustainable and ecological alternatives to the production of heat and hot water for our buildings. Amongst these alternatives are bio-mass and heat pumps that are fed by solar panels.
The inter-connection of objects over the internet helps us improve home comfort contributing to a better management and reduction of energy use. Through this technology if we programme our systems well we can take full advantage of energy resources.