Sustainable design architecture, sustainable architecture, “green architecture” whatever it is you choose to call it, boils down to the same thing. And that would be to design and build structures and buildings that do not have a negative impact on the environment. There are many different ways this is achieved; however, it can be divided into two basic ways. The first and obvious one is the design itself, and the second is the materials used for construction. As far as materials go, the idea is to use presently available sources that do not have a bad impact on the environment.
Sustainable Energy and Architecture
When sustainable design architecture is done, the area that gets the most attention by far would be sustainable energy usage. Energy consumption can be further divided into two categories; energy generation and climate control. In fact, you could say that energy efficiency is overall the most important factor. This is achieved by following several different active and passive methods. The following are some examples.
All building, no matter where they exist, need to be either kept cool or heated at optimum temperatures. Over the last few decades, there has been a greater understanding on how to achieve this. On the design side, these could be the size and orientation of rooms and hallways, as well as the windows. Other improvements include using better insulation to trap hot or cold air as necessary. Then there are air-conditioning units. These units not only cool the air but also produce residual water as a result of condensation. This excess water can be used for irrigation and even drinking, as long it is properly filtered. In fact, many large buildings have already put this plan into action.
Cities are also implementing changes when zoning. Before new building permits are given, factors such as street width, facades, the ratio between two neighboring buildings are all taken into account to help with more efficiency on the HVAC side of things. However, the biggest change is in the design side of things for the buildings themselves. Many cities are not allowing people to construct large sprawling buildings that require a lot of energy to heat and cool. This is why structures built today are no longer as “organic” looking. Newer buildings are built to be more centralized in design and structure. Even small additions such as putting awnings, shutters or blinds can help reduce the heat in a room by as much as three degrees.
Harnessing the Elements
Last but not least, one of the easiest ways and sometimes the cheapest way to achieve sustainable design architecture is to use technology to help with energy production. By just adding a set of solar panels or wind turbines, any building or home can instantly reduce their carbon footprint. Setting up something as simple and cheap as solar water heating is a step in the right direction. The Federal government and various state governments even offer tax incentives for alternative energy usage.