When it comes to designing sustainable architecture, we look at many aspects - your site, your brief, your life, how you need it to function, and the climate that you are in. We then take these parameters and shape the spaces to fit not only the form and function, but also to create a sense of delight and beautiful moments in time. The construction industry can be an incredibly wasteful and polluting one, and so for each project we really want to look at building in ways that the built form GIVES more than it takes. We want to build in ways that have a positive impact on human and natural systems.
A great way of looking at the different parameters that need to be considered in a sustainable build is using the seven ‘petal’ approach that is described by the ‘Living Building Challenge’ (which is a green certification framework ). This multi-faceted look at what should be considered in a building is a great way of ensuring that you have assessed how a building responds not only to your individual functional brief, but also how the space responds to the site, climate, community and how it operates in terms of energy and water use.
A sustainable building encourages a good location of the site, enabling or encouraging a healthy interrelationship with nature through human powered transportation (bike, walking where possible to daily activities). Ensuring that there are limits to urban growth and that if a proportion of land is used for the construction of a building, an equal proportion of habitat is left or created for the natural world.
Ensure good use of storm water available on site, and respect for waste water through recycling. Aim for net positive water use.
Ensure good use of renewable forms of energy eg. Solar or using nonpolluting energy sources. Aim for net positive energy use.
Look at the use of materials that foster a healthy indoor environment, with fresh air and daylight, and planning of the spaces encourages a good psychological wellbeing.
Ensure the good use of natural materials, avoiding those toxic products on the ‘Red’ list where the chemicals used in the processing or production pollutes the environment or affects our health. Looking at a materials lifecycle, energy and responsible resource use as well as its socially equitable sources.
Accessibility to all – create spaces to be used by all people, regardless of disability, age or socio economic status. The site planning should consider how it responds to the immediate community and environment in terms of human scale, accessibility, citizenship, or the effect on the waterways, fresh air or light on neighboring properties.
Ensuring that there is a sense of beauty, inspiration, education. That the design of the building lifts the spirits.
The Living Building Challenge is one of the more rigorous assessment tools available for public and urban environments, but also serves as an illustration of what GOOD looks like in the design of a home. Against this you can easily assess the options available to you through the many choices to be made in your construction project.
If you would like more information about the certification process and project examples you can find further resources on the Living Future website.