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Sustainable architecture is architecture that seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact
Solar panels[edit]
Main article: Solar PV
Active solar devices such as photovoltaic solar panels help to provide sustainab...
between 7 feet (2 m) to 25 feet (8 m) in diameter and produce electricity at a rate of 900 watts to
10,000 watts at their ...
Architectural Response to Sustainability
Since the Oil Embargo in the 1970’s, there has been an increased awareness in
quality of life through environmentally friendly architecture. These points are
constantly changing, so that they may adap...
the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.
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Sustainable architecture


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sustainable architecture

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Sustainable architecture

  1. 1. Sustainablearchitecture Sustainable architecture is architecture that seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space. Sustainable architecture uses a conscious approach to energy and ecological conservation in the design of the built environment.[1] The idea of sustainability, or ecological design, is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations.[2] Energy efficiency over the entire life cycle of a building is the single most important goal of sustainable architecture. Architects use many different techniques to reduce the energy needs of buildings and increase their ability to capture or generate their own energy. Heating, ventilation and cooling system efficiency[edit] The most important and cost-effective element of an efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is a well-insulated building. A more efficient building requires less heat generating or dissipating power, but may require more ventilation capacity to expelpolluted indoor air. Significant amounts of energy are flushed out of buildings in the water, air and compost streams. Off the shelf, on-site energy recycling technologies can effectively recapture energy from waste hot water and stale air and transfer that energy into incoming fresh cold water or fresh air. Recapture of energy for uses other than gardening from compost leaving buildings requires centralized anaerobic digesters. HVAC systems are powered by motors. Copper, versus other metal conductors, helps to improve the electrical energy efficiencies of motors, thereby enhancing the sustainability of electrical building components. (For main article, see: Copper in energy-efficient motors). Site and building orientation have some major effects on a building's HVAC efficiency. Passive solar building design allows buildings to harness the energy of the sun efficiently without the use of any active solar mechanisms such as photovoltaic cells or solar hot water panels. Typically passive solar building designs incorporate materials with high thermal massthat retain heat effectively and strong insulation that works to prevent heat escape. Low energy designs also requires the use of solar shading, by means of awnings, blinds or shutters, to relieve the solar hea t gain in summer and to reduce the need for artificial cooling. In addition, low energy buildings typically have a very low surface area to volume ratio to minimize heat loss. This means that sprawling multi-winged building designs (often thought to look more "organic") are often avoided in favor of more centralized structures. Traditional cold climate buildings such as American colonial saltbox designs provide a good historical model for centralized heat efficiency in a small-scale building.
  2. 2. Solar panels[edit] Main article: Solar PV Active solar devices such as photovoltaic solar panels help to provide sustainable electricity for any use. Electrical output of a solar panel is dependent on orientation, efficiency, latitude, and climate— solar gain varies even at the same latitude. Typical efficiencies for commercially available PV panels range from 4% to 28%. The low efficiency of certain photovoltaic panels can significantly affect the payback period of their installation.[3] This low efficiency does not mean that solar panels are not a viable energy alternative. In Germany for example, Solar Panels are commonly installed in residential home construction. Roofs are often angled toward the sun to allow photovoltaic panels to collect at maximum efficiency. In the northern hemisphere, a true-south facing orientation maximizes yield for solar panels. If true- south is not possible, solar panels can produce adequate energy if aligned within 30° of south. However, at higher latitudes, winter energy yield will be significantly reduced for non-south orientation. To maximize efficiency in winter, the collector can be angled above horizontal Latitude +15° . To maximize efficiency in summer, the angle should be Latitude -15°. However, for an annual maximum production, the angle of the panel above horizontal should be equal to its latitude. Wind turbines[edit] Main article: Wind power The use of undersized wind turbines in energy production in sustainable structures requires the consideration of many factors. In considering costs, small wind systems are generally more expensive than larger wind turbines relative to the amount of energy they produce. For small wind turbines, maintenance costs can be a deciding factor at sites with marginal wind-harnessing capabilities. At low-wind sites, maintenance can consume much of a small wind turbine's revenue.[5] Wind turbines begin operating when winds reach 8 mph, achieve energy production capacity at speeds of 32-37 mph, and shut off to avoid damage at speeds exceeding 55 mph.[5] The energy potential of a wind turbine is proportional to the square of the length of its blades and to the cube of the speed at which its blades spin. Though wind turbines are available that can supplement power for a single building, because of these factors, the efficiency of the wind turbine depends much upon the wind conditions at the building site. For these reasons, for wind turbines to be at all efficient, they must be installed at locations that are known to receive a constant amount of wind (with average wind speeds of more than 15 mph), rather than locations that receive wind sporadically.[6] A small wind turbine can be installed on a roof. Installation issues then include the strength of the roof, vibration, and the turbulence caused by the roof ledge. Small-scale rooftop wind turbines have been known to be able to generate power from 10% to up to 25% of the electricity required of a regular domestic household dwelling.[7] Turbines for residential scale use are usually
  3. 3. between 7 feet (2 m) to 25 feet (8 m) in diameter and produce electricity at a rate of 900 watts to 10,000 watts at their tested wind speed.[8] Building integrated wind turbine performance can be enhanced with the addition of an aerofoil wing on top of a roof mounted turbine.[9] Materials sustainability standards[edit] Despite the importance of materials to overall building sustainability, quantifying and evaluating the sustainability of building materials has proven difficult. There is little coherence in the measurement and assessment of materials sustainability attributes, resulting in a landscape today that is littered with hundreds of competing, inconsistent and often imprecise eco- labels, standards and certifications. This discord has led both to confusion among consumers and commercial purchasers and to the incorporation of inconsistent sustainability criteria in larger building certification programs such as LEED. Various proposals have been made regarding rationalization of the standardization landscape for sustainable building materials.[19] What is "Sustainable Architecture?" Eco-housing, green development, sustainable design -- environmentally sound housing has as many names as it has definitions, but the Rocky Mountain Institute, in its "Primer on Sustainable Building", flexibly describes this new kind of architecture as "taking less from the Earth and giving more to people." In practice, "green" housing varies widely. It can range from being energy efficient and using nontoxic interior finishes to being constructed of recycled materials and completely powered by the sun. Green building practices offer an opportunity to create environmentally sound and resource-efficient buildings by using an integrated approach to design. Green buildings promote resource conservation, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation features; consider environmental impacts and waste minimization; create a healthy and comfortable environment; reduce operation and maintenance costs; and address issues such as historical preservation, access to public transportation and other community infrastructure systems. The entire life cycle of the building and its components is considered, as well as the economic and environmental impact and performance. Basically, its an environmentally friendly house!
  4. 4. Architectural Response to Sustainability Since the Oil Embargo in the 1970’s, there has been an increased awareness in environmental issues. Some people may look at the loss of non-renewable resources and think automobiles are the main cause. However, that is not so. It may be suprising to many that the majority of energy depletion comes from buildings. Half of the non-renewable resources that are used are wasted by buildings and homes, where as only 25% is used by automobiles (Slessor 1996, p.4). In addition, the United States citizen uses 20 times more raw materials than the average world citizen. This shock has hit the architectural field hard but there has been little done to remedy the situation. The idea of sustainable architecture is not new. As defined by Robert Berkebile, AIA, “It is design that improves the quality of life today without diminishing it for the next generation.”(Berkebile 1993, p.109) However, sustainable architecture is hardly ever used. The lack of green architecture is a fault of both the client and the architect. It is the architect's responsibility to converse to the client about sustainability, but most firms do not have the resources in their files to produce beneficial or new ideas about designing sustainable buildings. Also, if an architect does wish to produce a sustainable building, the client may not want to pay the additional costs it may take to construct, and is most the time unaware of the benefits. The time has come to educate the clients about design issues such as “sleek does not mean better” and “a glass wall is not better than a concrete wall.” There comes a time when people have to stop worrying only about the exterior details and start worrying about the internal ones, "…It is time to stop putting the fins on the Cadillac." (Slessor 1996, p.5) We as architects have valuable resources at our disposal that are more than often over looked. In addition, as designers we must change the standards of construction. We have to stop pulling details and other pre-fabricated building systems out of catalogues and use our design ability to change the way architecture runs. Architects must challenge the preconceptions behind building forms. In fact, there is still much to learn from traditional vernacular forms. Principles of Sustainable Architecture The following nine ideas, as provided by the Hannover Principles of Architecture (, should be seen as a means of improving the
  5. 5. quality of life through environmentally friendly architecture. These points are constantly changing, so that they may adapt as our knowledge of the world evolves. 1. Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition. 2. Recognize interdependence. The elements of human design interact with and depend upon the natural world, with broad and diverse implications at every scale. Expand design considerations to recognizing even distant effects. 3. Respect relationships between spirit and matter. Consider all aspects of human settlement including community, dwelling, industry and trade in terms of existing and evolving connections between spiritual and material consciousness. 4. Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well- being, the viability of natural systems and their right to co-exist. 5. Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden future generations with requirements for maintenance or vigilant administration of potential danger due to the careless creation of products, processes or standards. 6. Eliminate the concept of waste. Evaluate and optimize the full life-cycle of products and processes, to approach the state of natural systems, in which there is no waste. 7. Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like the living world, derive their creative forces from perpetual solar income. Incorporate this energy efficiently and safely for responsible use. 8. Understand the limitations of design. No human creation lasts forever and design does not solve all problems. Those who create and plan should practice humility in the face of nature. Treat nature as a model and mentor, not as an inconvenience to be evaded or controlled. 9. Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. Encourage direct and open communication between colleagues, patrons, manufacturers and users to link long term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and re-establish
  6. 6. the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.