Two male architects in office discussing construction project. Young men working together on new building model.

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.

Two male architects in office discussing construction project. Young men working together on new building model.

Created by IBUKU, a design collective specialising in sustainable buildings, this kindergarten has no walls and is supported by a central column which acts as a skylight. Read more: Educational spaces: why inspirational design is vital

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.


Read more about building an awareness of the full life cycle of buildings here: Biomimicry in architecture: how designers look to nature >

Two male architects in office discussing construction project. Young men working together on new building model.

BIOHM, a bio-based building materials company, took inspiration from nature to create an incredible solution for the construction industry to combat construction waste. Read more: Biomimicry in architecture: how designers look to nature

Two male architects in office discussing construction project. Young men working together on new building model.

LEED standards offer guidance on the design, build, maintenance or retrofit of energy-efficient buildings – and that is only the beginning. Did you know that interior designers can also be LEED accredited? Read more: Proven 'LEED' tips for the eco-conscious interior designer

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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Our fabrics are proven by extensive testing to be durable, easy to clean, soft to the touch and colourfast. Our applications continue outdoors and in high demand spaces, with our FibreGuard Outdoor range and FibreGuard Pro, which features anti-bacterial properties and a unique moisture barrier.

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