Sustainable architecture: the future is green
Sustainable architecture, also known as green architecture or eco architecture, is based on the design and construction of buildings that comply with a series of sustainable requirements, so that natural resources are optimised and the impact of such constructions on the environment is minimised.
In recent years, eco-friendly architecture has been gaining ground in the sector. Without a doubt, this profession has always been linked to the thoughts that have marked the evolution of our society. Thus, throughout history, the different architectural styles have always been related to different periods, events or artistic trends that have established a new way of understanding the world.
And now it couldn’t be less: our society and lifestyle demand ecological, sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions.
The importance of green architecture
Although the term “sustainable architecture” was coined in 1987 there is still a long way to go. In 2018, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned of the need for stronger actions by this sector to reduce CO2 emissions.
They recently confirmed that buildings are responsible for almost half of all global energy use. They also produce 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, consume 25% of all drinkable water, and account for 20% of all solid waste produced in developed countries. That’s why there was an incentive to achieve “a big change” in the way the buildings were constructed.
So, environmentally friendly architecture is fundamental nowadays: its main objective is to create sustainable home designs that reduce the environmental footprint, energy consumption and their long-term effects by being conceived as highly energy-efficient constructions.
Pillars of eco-friendly architecture
The raison d’être of this type of architecture is the construction (and also the renovation or reform) of highly sustainable, responsible and environmentally friendly houses and buildings. To achieve this, ecological architecture is based on three fundamental principles: the use of efficient technology for construction, renewable materials and an innovative design, which adapts, respects and minimises the negative impact on its surroundings. In addition, it must always promote responsible and efficient energy consumption.
Eco architecture takes into account the entire construction process of a house or a building: life cycle of materials, reduction of their use, their recycling, the use of renewable energies… To sum up, this is the most important decalogue of sustainable architecture:
- Adapt the design to the needs, conditions and culture of its location.
- Use renewable energy sources.
- Make use of appropriate, durable materials that can be recycled or reused and that do not contain polluting products.
- Design efficient use of lighting, ventilation and water to promote efficient energy.
- Develop adequate thermal insulation.
- Avoid the massive generation of waste while construction.
- Reduce emissions of CO2 and other contaminating gases.
- Use local materials to avoid emissions from their transport.
- Materials must have environmental certifications.
- Project healthy, economically viable and socially sensitive spaces.
Benefits of sustainable architecture
Sustainable buildings have the following advantages:
- Use of efficient technologies. This type of building incorporates technologies that create healthier, more comfortable environments at the same time as reduce costs and waste.
- Easier maintenance. For example, green buildings do not require exterior painting, saves the environment, as well as a consumer’s time and money.
- Better air quality. This type of construction uses clean, renewable energy sources (solar or wind) and encourages the use of natural ventilation techniques.
- Energy efficiency. Green building methods make the most out of energy, resources, and materials.
- Tax incentives. Green architecture initiatives are supported by incentives at the local, state or federal level.
In short, sustainable architecture is of extreme importance since its benefits are not only applicable to the here and now but also have far-reaching advantages. At the same time, it encourages us to live in a “greener” world, which cares about its resources and uses them carefully and with responsibility and respect.
In the end, we should not forget that “sustainable architecture” is born from the term “sustainable development” which is defined by the UN as: “Development is sustainable when it meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.