More and more every day, we see more sustainable buildings designed by architects. Even though cost has always been a top consideration for civic building planners, spending a bit more money in the beginning on sustainability can not only provide large amount of savings over time, but also positively impact air quality, well-being, and lead to a regenerative future.
Sustainable architecture seeks to reduce the negative environmental impact of buildings through efficiency and moderation in the use of materials,
energy, development, space, and the ecosystem in general.
Sustainable architecture uses an energy and conservation conscious approach to designing the built environment.
The idea of sustainability or eco-design is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not block the opportunities of future generations.
The efficiency of sustainable energy throughout the life cycle of a building is the most important aspect of sustainable architecture.
Architects use many different active methods to reduce buildings’ energy needs and increase their ability to capture or generate their own energy.
The use of site analysis is one of the keys to exploiting local environmental resources and influencing energy-related factors such as daylight, solar heat gain and ventilation.
Several passive architectural strategies have been developed over time.
Examples of such strategies include arranging rooms, determining the size and orientation of windows in a building, orienting facades and streets or the ratio between building height and street width for modern planning.
Active solar devices such as photovoltaic solar panels help provide sustainable electricity for any use.
The electrical output of a solar panel depends on orientation, efficiency, latitude and climate – solar gain varies even at the same latitude.
Typical efficiency of commercially available photovoltaic panels ranges from 4% to 28%.
The low efficiency of some photovoltaic panels can greatly affect the payback period of their installation.
This lower efficiency does not mean that solar panels are not a viable energy alternative,
The use of small wind turbines for energy production in sustainable structures requires consideration of many factors.
When considering costs, small wind systems are usually more expensive than larger wind turbines relative to the amount of energy they produce.
For small wind turbines, maintenance costs can be a critical factor at sites with marginal wind harnessing capabilities.
In low wind locations, maintenance can consume a lot of the revenue of a small wind turbine.
Water heaters, also known as home solar hot water systems, can be a cost effective way to generate hot water for the home.
They can be used in any climate, and the fuel they use – sunlight – is free.
There are two types of solar water systems – active and passive.
An active solar collector system can produce about 80 to 100 gallons of hot water per day.
The passive system will have a lower capacity.
Air source heat pumps (ASHP) can be thought of as reversible air conditioners.
An ASHP compound, like an air conditioner, can take heat from a relatively cool place (e.g., a house at 70°F) and bring it out to a hot location (e.g. outside of 85°F).
However, unlike an air conditioner, ASHP’s condenser and evaporator can switch roles and absorb heat from cool outside air and dump it into a warm home.
Air source heat pumps are inexpensive relative to other heat pump systems.
However, the efficiency of air source heat pumps decreases when the outdoor temperature is too cold or too hot.
Therefore, it is applicable only in a temperate climate.
There is no doubt that green technology has advanced the architectural industry,
but the application of certain technologies has changed the ways we see and understand modern architecture.
While green engineering has been shown to show significant improvements in livelihoods both environmentally and technologically, the question remains,
Ethics and politics also play into sustainable architecture and its ability to grow in the urban environment.
Conflicting perspectives between engineering techniques and environmental impacts remain common issues that resonate in the architectural community.
With every revolutionary technology or innovation comes criticism of the legality and effectiveness of when and how it is used.
Many of the criticisms of sustainable architecture do not reflect every aspect of it, but rather represent a broader spectrum in the international community.
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