What Is Sustainable Architecture?

According to Wikipedia, “Sustainable architecture is architecture designed to minimize the negative environmental sustainable architectureimpact of buildings through efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy and development space, and in the ecosystem at large.”

This sums up the concept of sustainable architecture quite well; though, there are many considerations that go into such building practices. As a whole, the most critical goal of green design is energy efficiency, which is achieved through myriad techniques including, (but not limited to):

  • Superior building & window insulation
  • Solar panels / Solar thermal power
  • Wind turbines
  • Heat pumps
  • Recycled materials
  • Lower volatile organic compounds
  • Building placement
  • Deciduous tree landscaping

In the industry of sustainable architecture, green building experts range from architects, designers and construction managers all the way down to the various staff members who provide support for green projects from an administrative standpoint. Collectively, they work together to further the goal of protecting, preserving and enhancing our environment while making it safer, healthier and more comfortable for people to inhabit.

Here are some examples of sustainable architecture projects that exemplify green building ideals around the world:

Nanjing Green Lighthouse – Nanjing, China
Chinese green design with net-zero energy status

Hanover Olympic building – Los Angeles, CA
Built with sustainable materials, L.A.’s first net-zero residential space

Environmental Learning Center – Amsterdam
A net-zero energy building that makes sustainability easily visible and accessible to visitors

Oasia Downtown Hotel – Singapore, Asia
Covered with plantings, with 1100% Green Plot Ratio

Shanghai Natural History Museum – China
Fed by rainwater, and has “intelligent building skin” that reduces solar gain

Dixon Water Foundation – Decatur, Texas
Promotes watershed health through sustainable land management

Vancouver Convention Centre West – Canada
LEED Platinum certified, with non-industrial “living roof” and natural habitat for honey bees

The Bullitt Center – Seattle, Washington
The first office building to achieve the Living Building Challenge certification, 83% greater efficiency than typical office buildings

One Central Park – Sydney, Australia
Visible use of the green design with vertical gardens that save approximately 140,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emission over 25 years

Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability – Staten Island, New York
The first net-zero public school in NYC, with solar-paneled canopy roof 50% power consumption

As sustainable architecture becomes more prevalent in the years and decades to come, our planet and future generations of people who live on it will more readily see and enjoy the benefits of sustainable design concepts we put into practice today.

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