INSPIRED SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE SUPPORTS PEOPLE & THE PLANET
According to the World Economic Forum, our built environment is responsible for “40% of global energy consumption.” All together, buildings generate a whopping “33% of greenhouse gas emissions.” Sustainable architecture lessens the environmental impact of our built environment by reducing energy consumption and limiting carbon emissions. It also supports human health and safety by improving air and water quality while making our built environment more disaster resilient. In this post, we define sustainable architecture, outline its many benefits and list a few strategies for sustainable commercial real estate development.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE?
Sustainable architecture focuses on minimizing the harmful effects our built environment has on the climate, wildlife, natural resources and human health. This involves updating old buildings and designing new structures.
Architects improve the sustainability of our built environment through a series of passive and active approaches. Depending on the design process, sustainable buildings can either reduce the consumption of valuable resources, contribute resources — or both.
First, a sustainable building is designed to leverage the surrounding environment, thereby reducing dependency on energy intensive temperature control systems and reducing energy costs. During the construction process, sustainable buildings are built with locally-sourced materials, recycled materials, lightweight materials or rapidly renewable materials.
As noted above, a sustainable structure need not be brand new. Existing structures are often retrofitted or converted for enhanced environmental sustainability. Architects and designers add green roofs, install solar panels, update HVAC systems and replace insulation.
Both new and existing buildings are equipped with energy efficient air source heat pumps and other sustainable technologies. Together, these approaches to sustainable design reduce each building’s carbon footprint without sacrificing the comfort of its occupants.
benefits of sustainable architecture & sustainable development
According to the U.S. GSA, “sustainable design seeks to reduce [a building’s] negative impacts on the environment.” Sustainable architecture can limit global final energy use, reduce emissions and even store carbon.
It also seeks to improve “the health and comfort of building occupants.” Which building materials, ventilation systems and climate control mechanisms an architect chooses impact the health of a building. From minimizing construction waste to creating healthy indoor environments, there are many benefits of sustainable design.
In the world of commercial real estate, sustainable design benefits owner-operators by reducing energy costs. For existing buildings, they can reduce energy costs by replacing leaky insulation, doors and windows. In new buildings, they can limit energy consumption through passive ventilation, temperature control and lighting. Energy efficient appliances like heat pumps can reduce costs too.
As the climate changes, sustainability experts are paying particular attention to how new buildings can help protect critical infrastructure from natural disasters. Strategies include developing construction materials that flex during earthquakes and high winds, installing rainwater catchment systems and hardening the landscape against wildfires.
sustainable architecture can also...
- Reduce a town’s dependency on its state energy grid through water conservation, energy production and more.
- Combat food inflation and shortages with urban agriculture.
- Restore habitats and native biodiversity.
- Reduce the heat island effect in dense cities.
- Improve indoor and outdoor air quality to boost public health.
- Act as a carbon sink when natural materials, green roofs and living walls are used.
- Play a key role in stormwater management to prevent flooding.
do consumers care about sustainability?
According to a 2021 survey from the IBM Institute for Business Value, the COVID-19 pandemic influenced how 93% of global respondents view sustainability. 51% of participants in IBM’s 2022 survey say that “environmental sustainability is more important to them today than it was 12 months ago.”
Many consumers are willing to pay a premium for environmentally or socially sustainable products and services. About half of consumers surveyed by IBM already have.
sustainable buildings are part of a sustainable lifestyle
Other recent surveys have produced similar results, indicating a growing desire to live more sustainably. A study referenced by James Ellsmoor in this article for Forbes found that 77% of participants “want to learn more about sustainable lifestyles.”
A sustainable lifestyle is about where people live as it is about how they live. Underscoring the importance of sustainable architecture, an AMLI survey found that living in a green home is important to 84% of US apartment residents.
support sustainable architecture & development in your community
Despite public support for sustainable living and desire to solve our housing crisis, there is still a severe shortage of sustainable housing in America. From human health ramifications of the heat island effect to mass displacement caused by natural disasters, climate change and affordable housing go hand-in-hand.
As Gabi Velasco writes in an article for the Urban Institute’s Housing Matters, we can’t address our housing crisis without addressing our climate crisis. Sustainable housing provides a supportive environment for residents, the surrounding community and natural habitats.
At AVLV, we build sustainable housing that serves people and the planet. Join us as we implement and spread awareness of environmental and social sustainability.
ARCHITECTURE I DEVELOPMENT
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