The design and construction of buildings have a significant impact on the environment. Facilities use energy, water, and materials, produce waste, and release atmospheric emissions.
A building can reduce its environmental footprint using sustainable renovations and new construction designs. These sustainable design attributes minimize operation costs, reduce carbon footprints and increase building resiliency.
The Earth has a limited number of natural resources. The rise in construction developments and the need for new habits have led to the dwindling of these resources and exacerbated climate change’s effects. Sustainable architecture attempts to counteract this trend by using less energy and materials while providing occupants with a healthy environment.
It combines engineering and environmental sciences with the art of designing. Architects who practice sustainable design use repurposed and recycled materials, green construction techniques, and solar and wind power to create energy-efficient and eco-friendly buildings. Moreover, they create spaces that are aesthetically pleasing and functional for the comfort of the occupants.
Besides practicing as professionals, architects also play a role as community members. They should encourage others and themselves to practice sustainability. This can be done through various activities, including volunteering and participation in community development projects. Architects must recognize and develop their roles, responsibilities, and professional and personal self-improvement for sustainability.
While sustainable design principles can be broadly applied to all facilities, some specific considerations exist for different climates. For example, heating systems are one of the most common energy drains on buildings, so minimizing them can make a massive difference in overall sustainability.
Architects should also consider using passive strategies to reduce energy use, such as considering sun orientation and climate when siting the building. They should also focus on indoor environmental quality and use environmentally friendly products whenever possible.
In addition to improving their professional ethics, architects should become involved in the community and participate in sustainable community development programs. They can help by profiling the community, including information on its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and obstructions in the present situation, which can guide working groups to create sustainable actions. (Ortee, 1994). Architects can also monitor community or government investments’ social and physical results. They can do this by cooperating with the working group in surveys, interviews, and questionnaires.
When it comes to sustainable construction, architects can take many steps. They can use passive design strategies, like considering sun orientation and climate when designing buildings, to reduce energy requirements. They can also make a point of purchasing materials and finishes that are environmentally responsible.
Moreover, they can implement renewable energy systems, like solar and wind power. In addition, they can use thermal mass techniques, which allow the building to harness natural energy by absorbing it during the day and releasing it at night.
They can also monitor the environmental impact of community or government programs and private investment decisions. As such, they can play a critical role in helping to establish a more sustainable society. To do so, they should focus on their professional practices and citizen actions, which are interrelated and influence each other. This can be done by encouraging continued personal and professional development and integrating sustainability into their work.
As with any project, once construction is completed, the maintenance of the building has a significant impact on its environmental footprint. A sustainable design has lower ongoing energy costs than non-sustainable buildings, as using passive design elements combined with a focus on sustainable materials and fixtures reduces reliance on artificial light or climate control.
Architects are also positioned to educate others on the environmental benefits of sustainable design. This can be done through seminars, workshops, and other educational activities. This education can increase awareness of the impacts of sustainability and the potential for change.
Architects are also responsible for the selection of new materials for their projects. They must be aware of what is being claimed as green or sustainable and ensure their choice is backed up by accurate data, not just marketing claims. As with all professionals, they should ensure that literacy exists across their organizations – from the firm president to the spec writer and junior staff drawing facade details.