Sustainable architecture could be defined as the creation of buildings for which only renewable resources are consumed throughout the process of design, construction and operation, that also includes the manufacture and transportation of materials, components and construction equipment. Such a design involves creating buildings that meet the world's need to reduce human impact on the ecosystems.
Sustainable Architecture Characteristics And Active Features
Sustainable architecture involves creating buildings that contribute to saving scarce resources, reducing energy consumption, and improving the environmental quality.
Sustainable design involves creating energy efficient buildings
Energy efficient houses
Arnold Plesse CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
A Sustainable Design
In a sustainable design, nature is the primary factor that influences the architectural process. These buildings have minimum adverse impacts on the built and natural environment and contribute to saving whatever scarce resources available, reducing the energy consumption, and improving the environment quality.
This design practice emphasizes on the efficiency of heating and cooling systems, alternative energy sources, such as solar power, wind power, appropriate building site, reused or recycled building material, on-site power generation, rainwater harvesting for gardening, and green roofs that filter and control storm water runoff.
Key aspects of sustainable design
- Minimizing non-renewable resource consumption.
- Enhancing the natural environment.
- Eliminating or minimizing the use of toxic materials.
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Characteristics of a sustainable building
- Be adapted to the local climate and evolve as conditions change.
- Harvest all its water and energy requirements on site.
- Operate pollution free and generate no wastes that are not useful for some other process in the building, and can cause harm to the immediate environment.
- Comprise energy efficient integrated systems that maximize comfort.
- Improve diversity of the local ecosystem.
- Promote well being of inhabitants.
Features of sustainable architecture
The basic building block is designed to offer a comfortable living space making use of energy efficient materials. The active features of a sustainable design include the following:
- Wind energy
- Wave energy
- Use of Solar Photovoltaic panels.
Passive features of a sustainable design:
- Use of thick walls.
- High ceilings.
- Ventilators, skylights, cornices in the exterior facade, tall trees, shrubs, bushes, ponds, balconies. Deciduous trees are often planted in front of the windows to block the excessive sun in summer with their leaves, but allow light through, in winter when their leaves fall off. Coniferous trees are planted to the north of the buildings to shield against cold north winds.
- Rainwater harvesting pit.
- Bottle houses, a distinct style of constructing walls with glass bottles as masonry units, along with the use of cement, stucco, and plaster for binding purposes.
- Tire compound walls constructed using discarded rubber tires. The grooves in the tires provide the necessary adhesion.
- Use of natural local materials.
Passive solar building design
Energy efficiency using passive strategies, such as the arrangement of rooms or sizing and orientation of the windows in buildings, allows to harness the energy of the sun efficiently without the use of any active solar mechanisms. These buildings incorporate materials with high thermal mass that retain heat, and strong insulation that works to prevent heat loss. The use of solar shading by means of blinds, awnings or shutters reduces the need for artificial cooling in summer. The sprawling multi-winged designs are avoided in favor of more centralized structures.
In the northern hemisphere, installing a large number of south-facing windows to collect direct sun, and severely reducing the number of north-facing windows maximizes the input of natural heat creating light.