Sustainable Building Architecture

Sustainable Building Architecture

Green architecture, or green design, is an approach to building that has been growing in popularity for the past few years. Its aim is to reduce the harmful effects of architecture and construction on the environment by saving water, safeguarding air, and using environmentally friendly building materials. Sustainability in green buildings should then be part of the whole design process, which may include natural and energy-efficient lighting, renewable energy, energy-efficient ventilation systems, and facades. Sustainable design also takes into account other factors such as the building’s orientation, which, when done correctly, can help catch the sunlight and the winds. The placement of rooms, the positioning of windows for better ventilation, and landscaping are also part of any green building design.

Here are a few design elements in a green and sustainable building to help fight climate change and build a healthier community for the population:

1- Water-efficiency systems: Water efficiency is a very important aspect in green and sustainable building. Water efficiency can be achieved by monitoring the amount of water being used, and fixing any leaks in the building to help us use our water resources in a smart way. One of the most effective strategies in water-efficiency includes installing efficient plumbing fixtures, which can help reduce water waste. These include high-efficiency toilets, low-flow shower heads, and better washing machines and sinks. On the other hand, PVC pipes are a good alternative for old pipes because they do not rust nor corrode and can help save a lot of water in the future.

2- Eco-friendly building materials: Building materials are another major component to building sustainably. The first steps in designing green buildings are to reduce the amount of materials used or to reuse existing buildings or deconstruction debris. Some of the building materials that are considered green include polyester, which helps trap excess heat in winter and keep it away in summer. On the other hand, recycled metals like aluminum and steel are durable and long-lasting, as well as water resistant, which means they can be used for roofs and building facades, and they can help lower energy use at the same time. Cement is another example of eco-friendly materials. Today, recycled plastic is being used more in the production of cement. In fact, plastic waste is being used as the key ingredient to create plastic cement, which is helping reduce the carbon footprint on the environment and prevent energy leakage.

3- Indoor air quality: Good indoor air quality enhances the health of the residents and increases comfort. It is, then, another essential element to consider when adopting the green architecture approach. A high-quality indoor environment often requires a careful design and a good choice of materials, such as the use of well-designed ventilation and the use of materials that help control moisture and mold. Selecting low-emitting and non-toxic building materials helps reduce pollution, which enhances air quality and protects the environment at the same time. These materials include the use of non-toxic interior paints, sealants and insulation for walls, as well as repurposed furniture.

4- Energy-efficient systems: Energy efficiency is the key factor that helps achieve sustainability in a green building. Reducing energy consumption in the design and architecture fields is starting to become a significant improvement feature in all buildings. Green buildings naturally use a lesser amount of energy compared to other types of buildings. However, there are many other systems and elements that help reduce energy consumption even more, such as energy-efficient lighting and appliances and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Passive energy, for example, uses the sun’s energy to heat or cool a building. In fact, it uses passive collectors, like windows and floors, to collect and distribute the sun’s energy in the building for heating purposes in the winter and to reject the heat in the summer. This system helps reduce energy consumption as well as reduce the energy bill for the residents. Additionally, using appliances, LED lighting and motion sensors to automatically turn lights on and off can also help reduce the use of energy.

5- Building orientation: Orientation is the positioning of a building based on the sun and wind’s direction throughout all seasons. The building’s orientation can significantly affect its sustainability and efficiency in terms of energy usage. A building’s orientation can differ according to the climate and weather around it. For example, using the sun’s energy as much as possible in cold climates can help with heating the building. This way, the occupants of the building won’t have to use as much electricity and energy for heating in winter. On the other hand, reducing exposure to the sun’s rays by orienting the building’s largest surface away from the sun can help reduce solar heat in warm climates and keep the building cooler from the inside. Windows play a major role here as well, as they allow the sunlight to enter the rooms in the building, helping provide natural lighting while regulating the indoor temperature in hot weather.

Developing eco-friendly and sustainable buildings is proving to be beneficial to both the building owners and, most importantly, the environment. In fact, green buildings are helping reduce our carbon footprint by decreasing the negative impact of the construction and designing processes and activities on the environment. Today, people are becoming more interested in green building architecture, especially since it can improve the way their homes and businesses use energy and water. However, it is important to note that green building architecture starts with environmentally-sensitive land use, which means that the location of the building is important, especially with regards to its distance from shopping centers and its access to public transportation.

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