What is Sustainable Architecture?

Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable architects design buildings to limit negative environmental impact through efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and space while considering the ecosystem at large. It is considered a conscious approach to energy and ecological conservation in the design of the built environment.

There are a few fundamental elements to sustainable architecture: site & building orientation, shading and sunlight due to pre-existing elements, natural ventilation opportunities, renewable energy systems, heating ventilation and cooling system efficiency, and sustainable building materials.

Energy efficiency is one of the most critical goals to sustainable design. The orientation of the building, the number of windows (openings) and good insulation are the key elements to ensuring energy efficiency.  Roof top solar panels, solar water heaters, heat pumps, and small-scale wind turbines can also be used as alternate solutions to traditional methods of heating and cooling.

When it comes to building materials, the building should be constructed with materials that can be easily available, reused, and disposed of. When older buildings are demolished, all wood, doors, windows, mantels and hardware can be reclaimed and renewed, allowing the materials to be retrofit with a new purpose.

Waste management is also an important component of sustainable architecture. Recycling as much as possible is critical. This will ensure less waste going to the landfill and protect the health of those on site from the harmful and possibly toxic effects of waste.

-Nital Churi, Architectural Designer