How Architecture Affects the Environment
With buildings and construction responsible for 39% of energy-related carbon emissions, architects are at the forefront of finding ways to make structures more sustainable. This involves using recycled and Earth-friendly materials, incorporating renewable energy, and more.
Architects are also exploring biomimetic designs that mimic natural processes. For example, one project aims to emulate a Namibian fog-basking beetle’s physiology to harvest water.
Building materials are a large part of the embodied energy of a building. Using sustainable and recycled materials is key to decreasing a buildings environmental impact.
Architects can also reduce the use of fossil fuels in their designs by using passive design techniques such as maximizing fenestration, improved air circulation, and natural lighting. This allows a building to minimize its dependence on non-sustainable energy sources such as air conditioning and heating.
Retrofitting existing buildings is another way architects can minimize their environmental footprint. It keeps materials and the embodied carbon they contain in use longer and delays the need for demolition. Architects such as Lacaton and Vassal have become key exponents of this approach.
Finally, designing net-zero buildings that produce as much energy as they consume – if not more – is crucial to combating climate change. This can be achieved through detailed planning and skilled execution. The Posbank tea pavilion in the Netherlands is an excellent example of a building designed to meet these standards. It features a grass roof, sheep’s wool insulation, and rainwater that flushes the toilets!
While architecture is a highly creative and fulfilling profession, it’s also one of the most energy-intensive. As a result, architects are working hard to make their industry carbon-neutral and use more sustainable materials.
For example, incorporating green roofs, straw bale walls, sheep’s wool insulation, and rainwater toilet flushing can reduce a building’s environmental impact. Also, using energy-efficient light fixtures and heating systems help cut down on the need for artificial lighting and air conditioning.
Another area of green architecture is biophilic design, which aims to connect people with nature through the use of natural elements in buildings. This can be done by maximizing fenestration, enhancing indoor ventilation, and utilizing solar energy and renewable energies.
Finally, architects can reduce the amount of water used in their buildings by designing more efficient plumbing fixtures, which cuts down on waste and helps protect our shared water supply. They can also use more recycled or rainwater-sourced water and minimize the stress on existing water sources by building with drought-resistant landscaping.
Architects can use their skills to make the built environment more eco-friendly. This includes reducing the amount of energy used in buildings, minimizing waste and pollution, and using natural materials in building design. This is referred to as green or sustainable architecture. It can include techniques such as improving insulation, maximizing fenestration, and increasing ventilation to improve air quality inside buildings.
Many architects are concerned about climate change. They understand that their work affects the environment and want to ensure that they are doing their part to help. They have made efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of their buildings by minimizing energy consumption, using recycled materials, and incorporating natural light and plants. Some even practice biophilic design, which seeks to connect people with nature by integrating natural elements into building designs. They can also use their skills to protect the environment by preventing soil erosion and maintaining water quality. They can also create structures that capture and reuse rainwater.
The goal of sustainable architecture is to limit the negative impact that buildings have on the environment throughout their entire life cycle. That means using earth-friendly materials, incorporating renewable energy sources and reducing air pollution inside the building. It also involves improved insulation that prevents heat from dissipating, increasing ventilation and other techniques to improve the indoor environment.
Many architects now use software to have a better picture of the environmental impacts of their designs before construction. This can include estimating the amount of materials needed, the water used and how much carbon will be emitted during construction and operation. There has been a movement toward regenerative architecture, which aims to create buildings that generate more energy than they use. This includes projects like Mikhail Riches’ housing project and Snohetta’s Powerhouse Telemark office that utilise air-source heat pumps, solar panels and energy-efficient lighting to reduce their emissions.
A new movement, non-extractive architecture, goes even further. It questions whether any kind of building can be good for the environment when it inevitably depletes natural resources somewhere.