Eco-friendly architecture: the importance of sustainable design
Let's shift the focus from our performance fabrics to architecture for a moment.
As we become increasingly aware of the importance of environmental issues, there is one area of our lives in which sustainability is now more crucial than ever. And that's the construction of the buildings in which we live.
Heavily reliant on natural resources such as stone, timber and metal, the construction industry has no choice but to sit up and take notice of sustainability.
It's not enough anymore for sustainable building practices to be added on as an afterthought; instead they must be embedded into every aspect of the design process. The end user demands it – and so does the planet.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN?
According to the UN Enviornment's Global Status Report of 2017, buildings and construction account for more than 35% of global final energy use and nearly 40% of energy-related CO2 emissions.
Sustainable architectural design, therefore, is the practice of creating buildings which make as little impact on the natural world as possible. It promotes the health of the building’s occupants at the same time as reducing the negative effects of the construction process on the environment.
A planet-friendly approach is vital to the construction industry given the fact that it has historically been associated with high levels of energy and material consumption.
Like the textiles industry, the construction industry has a responsibility to consider the environmental impact of its operations, and strive towards a more sustainable approach in order to protect our planet.
This can be achieved through the implementation of green technologies, the use of renewable energy sources, and the recycling of materials.
Architects themselves have a responsibility to the future, and look carefully at the design of buildings and the choice of materials used in order to reduce the amount of energy and resources consumed during construction.
By taking a planet-friendly approach, the construction industry can help to reduce its impact on the environment, while still meeting the needs of its customers.
The Covent Garden building in Brussels, Belgium, is a remarkable example of the progress being made. It is the first structure in Europe to have fully integrated natural purification and recycling systems.
Harnessing the power of phytosanitary plants, the water treatment system ensures the building is 95% self-sufficient in terms of water supply. Read more: Biomimicry in architecture: how designers look to nature >
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN?
So, why should the construction industry be adopting sustainable design practices? Here, we round up the main motivators.
1: Protecting the environment
Sustainable building practices reduce the negative effects of construction on the environment by protecting existing ecosystems and biodiversity, and by reducing CO2 emissions. Architects and builders need to take a 360 approach to environmental considerations throughout the design and construction process to order to best maximise these benefits.
Ways of achieving this include protecting existing habitats, planting trees around a new construction site, and opting to use sustainable materials to reduce a building's carbon footprint. Increasingly, architects are applying Passive House principles to their designs to achieve the most energy efficient results possible.
2: Reducing waste and energy use
Another benefit of sustainable design lies in limiting energy use and reducing waste. Examples of this include introducing solar energy sources, centralising water and heating distribution systems, and using renewable materials.
Such measures are founded in the knowledge that the natural resources we have at our disposal are finite. It's a future-focused approach which shows respect both for the planet and for ourselves.
3: Improving the health and wellbeing of a building's inhabitants
Adopting sustainable building practices can also improve the health and happiness of residents. It turns out that healthy buildings promote healthy lives. Occupants of eco-friendly buildings typically experience better overall health due to improved air and water quality. And the benefits of being around sustainable, natural materials such as FSC certified timber have been shown to increase feelings of wellbeing.
Sustainable building practices can also help to increase the longevity of built structures, while also reducing energy costs. With longevity and sustainability in mind, contemporary buildings are now designed to last longer than their older counterparts. However, it still needs to be recognised that a building will, at some point, reach the end of its natural life.
Bonus insight: organic architecture
Organic architecture is an approach to design that focuses on natural surroundings and sustainability. It's a philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world. This philosophy emphasises a design process that is guided by the nature of the building’s environment, materials, and purpose.
Interested in following the history of organic architecture? We recommend starting at the beginning with Frank Lloyd Wright's 1953 publication Language of an Organic Architecture. He also touches on it a little in In the Cause of Architecture, a collection of essays that he published nearly fifty years earlier!
Learn more: Your guide to the calming organic modern interiors that are taking social media by storm
SUSTAINABLE DESIGN IN PERFORMANCE FABRICS
In the coming years, cities and indoor spaces are expected to prepare for the great challenges of the future, namely societal changes and the climate crisis. Circularity applied in all spheres –from the home environment to urban guidelines– is a key concept for a more encouraging future. - Arch Daily
This focus on circularity, transparency, and sustainable design is a foundation of what we do at FibreGuard. We pride ourselves on being a business that believes in the enrichment of our people and the planet in which we live, and understanding our impact is key to our sustainability strategy.
Environmental sustainability in textiles is complex, and no single solution can tackle the climate change issues expected to rise. People and businesses from all parts of our community are looking for real steps they can take to make their operations more sustainable.
Read our committment to textiles sustainability.
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