People often ask what is sustainability? What is sustainable construction? And why do we need this?
Why the need for change and sustainability?
The built environment shapes how we live our lives and is at the heart of our economy. The way we use natural resources, the effect that pollution from making these materials has on our environment and in the use of buildings once they are occupied is unsustainable. All of these influence our environment as well as traditional buildings that consume vast amounts of energy, thus burning more fossil fuels with inevitable damage to our climate.
However, the knowledge exists to create buildings that minimise these environmental effects and provide more healthy spaces for their occupants with lesser cost.
What is Sustainable Construction?
There is no strict definition of sustainable construction but the over view of this can be taken to mean “construction which has minimal impact on the environment”
Sustainable construction can include the following:
- A building that is energy and carbon efficient, minimising energy consumption
- A building that leaves the smallest environmental footprint as possible
- A building constructed to use minimal waste in its construction or re-use of existing on-site materials
- A building designed to use less water consumption through, for example, more efficient appliances
- A building constructed with good access to public transport in mind
- A building that harnesses the use of recycling and composting for ease of occupants
So How Can We Achieve This?
There are some simple rules that we can follow to achieve sustainable construction within most projects:
- Make the building as efficient as possible
- Use local labour and suppliers
- Re-use existing buildings as much as possible
- Use local natural non-toxic materials or products
- Prioritise on quality both inside and out
What are the Benefits of Sustainable construction?
There are many potential benefits to gain from implementing sustainable construction
- Low running costs and low energy and water usage
- Local involvement
- Potential to design for low future maintenance
- Aesthetics – creating a building visually attractive
- Innovation and interest from local people
- Healthy living in your work and home environments
- Financial injection into local communities’ economy
Implementing Green Energy
Green energy now plays a part in our energy consumption – so what is it? Green energy is energy that comes from renewable resources. Combined with energy efficiency improvements and sustainable construction this can help reduce our overall energy usage and aid climate change. These sources of energy can meet our future needs in a more sustainable manner.
Design Considerations for New or Refurbished Buildings
So how can we break these down in to smaller elements that we can implement in the construction or refurbishment of our buildings? These are some key sustainable and energy efficient design considerations to consider when designing your new or refurbished building:
- Orientation – Taking advantage of the sun solar gains and ease of shading
- Daylighting – Maximise the use of daylight
- Insulation – Insulating above building regulations specification
- Glazing – High performance glazing with higher U-values
- Lighting – Dedicated energy efficient light fittings throughout the building
- Heating Systems – Using highly efficient heating systems and heat recovery systems
- Cooling – Adequate external shading or mixed mode air conditioning systems
- Ventilation – Can the building be naturally ventilated partially or fully to reduce the need of cooling systems
- Thermal Mass – Increased thermal mass to reduce the need for heating in a building
- Energy Harvesting and Efficiency – Minimise total energy demand by using efficient devices
- Water Harvesting and Efficiency – Re-using grey water and harvesting rainwater for other uses
- Green Electricity – The use of green energy technology roof mounted solar panels (PV), wind turbines or consumers investing in renewable energy by purchasing “green electricity”
- Solar Panels – Capture the suns energy by using photovoltaic cells solar panel electricity systems to run household appliances and lighting
- Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps – Extract heat from either the ground or the air using electrically driven pumping systems to pass heat to radiators or underfloor pipes
- Materials – Choosing sustainable, natural and locally sourced materials for your project
- Acoustics – Improve the acoustic properties of the building
- Health and Wellbeing – Provision of natural daylight and planting of native species to attract wildlife
These are the types of design consideration we try to incorporate here at LiteBox Architecture within our design stages to help create more sustainable building and help protect our environments future and reduce climate effects.
To discuss your project get in touch today on 02476 629192.