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When power generation is taken into account, architecture and construction account for 36% of worldwide final energy usage and 39%of CO2 emissions, as per WorldGBC, demanding progressive steps towards sustainable architecture.
Ecological issues arising from current mechanized and technological developments continue to be a major source of global concern, prompting a more active need for change in order to be more sustainable. But, before going any further, let’s first understand what is sustainable architecture?
Every component of the planning and designing process, such as the decision of construction materials, the design and execution of building services, and the amalgamation of the architectural design into the natural landscape, is enclosed in sustainable architecture.
Many of the strategies and ideas utilized in sustainable design have their origins in traditional vernacular construction processes that were altered in the industrial era by the introduction of new resources and mass manufacturing. The importance of sustainable architecture can be linked back to more than 50 years with the beginning of an international environmental campaign. The campaign witnessed 10% of the US population on streets protesting against environmental deterioration. It resulted in the formation of various constructive laws across the globe.
However, the world is currently facing a global climate crisis, and most of the environmental legislation enacted in the previous 50 years has been repealed. This renders a huge responsibility for architects, designers, developers, and clients to seek improved construction techniques to help minimize the damage inflicted by one of the world's most polluting sectors, the Built Environment!
In modern architecture, sustainability is the key concept and a crucial influencing factor. Green building certifications like LEED, BREEAM, IGBC, GRIHA and many more guide sustainable construction. Despite the progress in awareness and new methods, sustainable architecture remains an added feature rather than a mandatory factor.
Given the building industry is a major source of energy consumption, it's no wonder that modern sustainable architecture has now become a top priority in the design of buildings. Architects are now required to seamlessly integrate nature in the built environment.
While cities continue to grow, the Earth as a whole is not becoming any larger. This expansion has a significant environmental impact since the process of creating new homes for our growing population consumes a significant portion of the environmental assets on a regular basis.
Therefore, the form, function, and purpose of a structure can no longer be planned or designed as an individual entity. The fabric, design services, and the controlled fixtures are now all inextricably intertwined. To be deemed sustainable development, a precise balance must be struck between a design, its neighbouring context, and the function of the structure. All these reasons have made sustainability an integrated factor in today’s time where buildings are ideated as ‘green’ from the start.
There are various environmental, economical, and societal benefits of incorporating modern sustainable architecture in new or existing structures, they are as follows:-
1. Environmental benefits
2. Economic benefits
3. Social benefits
A sustainable plan must allow for long-term functioning throughout the life cycle of a building, including demolition. While it must be practical and visually pleasing, the space must be built with the goal of energy and resource efficiency in mind.
Citizens, companies, communities, the economy, and nature all receive profits from modern sustainable architecture as it offers energy efficiency and cost savings.
Green building certifications have been increasingly popular among builders, architects, designers, building managers, and users in the recent decade. The new-age gave rise to several green building certifications and specialization programs that are easily accessible
The introduction of certifications came in with various advantages towards sustainable architecture. Building users and owners often ask if it's beneficial obtain accreditation for their sustainably constructed works
The benefits of such certifications, however, cannot be understated, here are a few:-
1. Minimized costs of operation and Maintenance
Most of the certifications base their criteria on energy efficiency. Architects can save money on electricity expenses in the long run by becoming more tactical with their window placements, energy sources and gadgets, and natural ventilation systems.
2. Reinforced Structural Benefits
Several planning communities provide structural incentives to buildings that satisfy sustainability goals in addition to cash benefits.
3. Better Occupancy
In terms of cleanliness, air quality, interior lighting, natural light, acoustics, and overall lifestyle, green facilities tend to receive higher evaluations from occupants. These reviews contribute to lower tenant turnover and more referrals, both of which contribute to increased occupancy.
4. Lower Emission Rates
Green and sustainable building methods assist to minimize local emission statistics, which benefits social and environmental health in addition to safeguarding inhabitants.
The era after certifications brought a major transformation not just for architects but the consumers as well. Society became more aware of green building practices and instead of buying just a space, people are now investing in an elevated lifestyle that revolves around nature.
The main goal of sustainable architecture is to minimize the impact of the human lifestyle on the natural environment.
A few characteristics of the same are:
In the current age of modern sustainable architecture, various factors affect the building form as its approaches its zero energy design ideologies.
Here are 6 examples of the best sustainable design architecture from across the world that have achieved a sustainable design with efficient systems and pleasing aesthetics.
1. Frasers Property and Sekisui House, Australia by Jean Nouvel
With the incorporation of hydroponic walls and horizontal planters, the structure’s vibrant green landscaping covers about half of the building's exterior, providing a living atmosphere for occupants. The vegetation acts as a natural, though seasonal, solar control system; shielding occupants from harsh summer rays and giving heat in the winters.
2. Australian Islamic Centre, Australia by Glenn Murcutt and Elevli Plus Architects
This mosque contains 96 gold-painted luminaries facing all four directions with natural sunlight channelled via coloured glass into the primary double-height prayer hall beneath. It is designed on biophilic principles where thenternal cross ventilation is provided via external louvres.
3. 7 More London Riverside, England by Foster+Partners
The 10-story 7 More London Riverside is the sustainable headquarters of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. The facade is featured with a high-performance glass for natural shade and insulation. The roof gardens, solar water heating, a CCHP trigeneration plant for limited cooling, heating, and power are other sustainability features.. A smart building control system allows each employee to regulate both illumination and temperature at their desk. It is also England's first office tower to get the BREEAM 'Outstanding' rating.
4. Oregon Zoo Education Center, USA by Opsis Architecture
By fostering a connection between the architectural and natural habitats, the Oregon Zoo's Education Center acts as a school to motivate touring children to participate in sustainability practices. The Center has a Nature Exploration Station (NESt) that encourages guests to walk outside and discover ecology.
Solar panels, natural vegetation, bird-safe glazing, and rain gardens are just a few of the Center's environmentally friendly attributes, which won it a LEED Platinum certification.
5. Godrej - The Trees,, India by Godrej Properties Limited
Godrej - The Trees aims to provide a commercially dynamic, visually appealing, and pedestrian-friendly masterplan for its inhabitants to experience all this in a green setting amidst the natural mangroves.
To guarantee that energy requirements are minimized and water is conserved, cutting-edge sustainability measures emerge throughout each design typology in the masterplan. It has received the IGBC Platinum certification.
6. CII Sohrabji,, India by Karan Grover
CII Sohrabjiis strategically positioned on the flattest terrain accessible, with greenery and flora all around, creating a relaxing microclimate by reducing pollution's influence. The Center has wind towers that are placed to collect and circulate cool breeze around and through the structure taking in account the harsh summers as per the Indian context. Through a natural cooling system, the interior spaces stay 3-4 degrees less than their exteriors, all this without a single HVAC system. The round design allowed optimal sun gain and unobstructed air movement.
Despite breakthroughs, innovations, and growing public awareness regarding the urge for green building techniques, sustainable design still accounts for a small percentage of worldwide development. Even today, Sustainable architecture as a term is used as a marketing gimmick to draw clients into buying properties. The way the climate is changing, there are only 15-20 years left in our hands to cure it and bring it back to normalcy.
Therefore, the way ahead is through regenerative design that harnesses natural resources to construct structures and systems that can decompose entirely once they've fulfilled their purpose.
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