Sustainability Enters The Cycle

30 Mar 2015

When you think of architectural installations, be they for institution or residence it is easy to forget that there are basic principles and values at work.

The concepts apply equally to projects large and small, principles form the foundations of the design, even before the first rendering is drafted.



Sustainable Buildings Reflect More Than Life Cycle

These principles are dynamic and rapidly changing, as concerns about the future of Planet Earth become important to public discourse. The issue of sustainability is coming to the front rapidly.

This is reflected in discussions about design and the forms of the built environment. Architects across the world are looking to take the lead in the applications of sustainability.

But what does sustainability mean in the context of the built environment? At the highest level it means that resources are applied and consumed only as rapidly as they can be replaced. A building can be a very efficient structure during its lifetime but there must also be a reckoning of the energy of its construction, beginning with raw materials.

It is important to think of sustainability in terms of total lifetime energy consumption, from the time of design conception to the final demolition and transition of the site to future occupation.


Sustainability In Architecture

Energy is a very broad term, it represents the ability to do work and make changes to the material environment. This can be counted in the billed costs of design, planning approval submission and costs that are categorised as labour count because workers spend it on living expenses.

The cost of transporting materials to the site of construction as well as the cost of converting minerals into glass, steel and concrete.

When buildings are repurposed and refurbished, instead of demolished, it can also have tremendous reductions in the high cost of materials.

A society that uses heavy industry to collect and prepare materials is perhaps one that ought to consider building for permanence. The more often materials such as concrete, steel and glass must be replaced, the higher the cost to the economy and the environment.


End Of Life Sustainability

In demolition there is a diffusion of the elements of the fully expended building back into the economic environmental structure from which it was removed.

The value in the resources extracted must be weighed against the cost in energy to remove and recycle it. A building that was designed with sustainability in mind will have been constructed with materials that can more easily be recovered and require little special handling such as the containment of toxic residues.

In end of life sustainability it is perhaps desirable to put off demolition indefinitely, repurposing and updating a building rather than removing it and starting afresh.

This approach can be applied to existing structures that were designed in less environmentally conscious times. In this way it is possible to enter the cycle of sustainability at nearly any point, at least in principle.

Staff Contribution | Thought Leadership

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