Traditional construction methods have long been responsible for adding strain to the environment. Domestic energy consumption accounts for at least half of the total carbon emissions released into the atmosphere each year. This concern presents an opportunity for engineers and architects to overhaul the current methods used in construction and incorporate better designs and use materials that are not only sustainable but also energy efficient.
What is an environmentally sustainable building?
Sustainability is a concept that revolves around efficient use of resources as well as making sure that there is enough to supply the needs of future generations. Sustainable architecture and construction techniques are not only good for the environment but also benefit the occupants of the building.
A sustainable building is one that maximises technology, materials, and techniques to reduce energy and water consumption. Although there is an impression that sustainably built structures sacrifice aesthetics, it cannot be farther from the truth. The architect’s imagination only limits the design used in constructing sustainable homes and buildings. Most, if not all, green homes you will see today are aesthetically pleasing.
One of the main priorities of sustainable architecture is to focus on ways to achieve energy efficiency. Certain construction materials like structural insulated panels (or SIPs) are gaining much attention in green architecture because of the inherent capability to improve the insulation of a structure. Better insulation results in reduced energy consumption and better indoor air quality.
In line with improving the insulation of a structure, double-glazed windows are another popular innovation many architects recommend. This type of window also enhances the capability of a home to retain heat during winter, and deflect heat in summer.
Using renewable materials for construction
Most traditional construction materials such as lumber and concrete are not sustainable and significantly contribute to environmental degradation. In choosing sustainable materials for construction, it is also essential to scrutinise what is genuinely renewable and not merely identified as such as a marketing ploy.
A good starting point is to look at resources that make use of recycled materials. For example, it is quite fashionable these days for architects to use reclaimed wood in their designs. Alternatives to concrete such as building blocks made of hemp are another excellent way to introduce a renewable resource into constructing a building.
Another material that is gaining much attention in the construction industry is bamboo. Bamboo grows fast and does not use many resources to get an abundant harvest. Using bamboo as a design or structural element reduces the need to rely on conventional materials such as lumber.
What the future holds for sustainable architecture
The continued collaboration of architect, engineers, and manufacturers ensures that the future remains bright for sustainable construction. There are many ideas in development and testing stages that will likely revolutionise modern homes and buildings in the next few years. In addition to this, there is also an increased adoption of generating renewable energy through solar panels. Most importantly, many private organisations are also lending a hand by transforming office buildings into sustainable places of business.