Sustainable architecture is a broad term that refers to structures that are designed to reduce humanity’s environmental impact. An environmentally friendly approach to modern building encompasses all aspects of the planning and construction processes. The process of construction includes the choice of material, design, implementation of heating, cooling, plumbing, and many more.
The story of sustainable architecture
Many of the practices and principles used in sustainable architecture are rooted in ancient building techniques. Its application was then transformed with the advent of modern materials and mass production in the industrial era.
The modern awareness of the need for sustainable architecture can be traced back over 50 years to the first Earth Day. The international environmental movement and the legislation that resulted from it around the world.
Sustainability has emerged as a critical component of modern architecture. Responsible architects work hard to meet environmental standards and obtain certifications for their projects.
Many designers and builders, however, simply use buzzwords such as “eco-friendly,” “green,” or “sustainable” as marketing terms. Their claims about sustainable practices are essentially exaggerated. Despite advances in knowledge and awareness, truly sustainable architecture remains the exception rather than the rule.
Sustainable architecture characteristics
- Priority should be given to reducing human impact on the environment.
- Low wasteful and harmful energy consumption
- Buildings that generate at least as much energy as they consume, resulting in a net zero effect
- Rainwater collection and gray water recycling are two examples of water conservation systems.
- Use of renewable materials such as bamboo, hemp, cork, flax, and soy for integration into the surrounding landscape
- Replacement of conventional materials such as concrete with environmentally friendly alternatives
- Utilization of recycled and upcycled materials
The future of sustainable architecture
Sustainable architecture remains a minor component of global construction. Furthermore, given the current state of the planet, many experts believe that the concept of sustainability is out of date.
Instead, they insist that regenerative architecture and design are the way forward. A much more progressive, all-encompassing approach that focuses on utilizing the world’s natural resources. The goal is to design buildings and systems that can regenerate themselves and collapse completely once they have served their purpose.
Climate change is known to disproportionately affect women, people of color, and low-income communities, and regenerative design incorporates social equity into its practices. This is a significant step beyond the fundamental principles of sustainable building to help alleviate social problems while addressing environmental issues.
A zero-energy building will have a net energy consumption of zero. The total annual energy consumption of the building is equal to the amount of renewable energy generated on-site.