In the over-developing world, everything is fast-paced. Even the increase in population is rapid. The migration to urban regions is rapid. And to accommodate this huge number of people, urban centers need to keep on extending their boundaries. Cutting down the green soul, cities are now transformed into concrete jungles. With minimal greenery around, these places are responsible for emitting tremendous levels of carbon footprint. High-rise buildings with modern amenities, more population means more pollution, using vehicles and generating more garbage.
What if the architectures could at least make these structures somewhat friendly to the environment? The negative impact of these structures cannot be diminished but something to minimize the negative impact. The construction industry takes up a lot from the environment and to reduce its impact adopting ‘sustainable architecture’ has been a leading consideration.
Generally, sustainable architecture refers to taking a conscious approach to the building of structures. Making these buildings while keeping in mind their ecological, economical and social benefits. Having an eco-friendly approach to modern-day buildings and their amenities is what encompasses the true sense of practicing sustainable architecture.
Right from the raw materials to the entire design of the space. And beyond all this, the continuous effects once these spaces are occupied, all of this needs to be considered for what a sustainable structure truly stands as.
The planning and construction process, including the choice of building materials; the design and implementation of heating, cooling, plumbing, waste, and ventilation systems; and the integration of the built environment into the natural landscape.
Characteristics of sustainable architecture:
- Switching to sustainable energy use like a low-energy house or zero-energy buildings.
- Heating, ventilation and cooling system efficiency.
- Renewable energy generation like solar panels, solar water heating, etc.
- Using recycled materials, lower volatile compounds to achieve sustainability.
- Conservation systems like rainwater collection and recycling.
- Focus on creating minimum waste not only during construction but throughout the building’s existence.
- Overall focus on reducing human impact on the environment.
Benefits of sustainable architecture:
- Reduction in usage of natural resources and energy.
- Resulting in ecological and economic benefits.
- Competitive advantage in terms of upgraded assets and property values.
- Improved living, health conditions of occupants.
- Minimized demands from local utilities.
Examples of sustainable architecture around the world:
- Pixel building, Australia: A carbon-neutral office building, focuses on saving energy and water.
- Suzlon One Earth, India: Based in Pune, it is one of the greenest corporate campuses. With water-harvesting, on-site waste conversion and other such green practices it saves 35% on operating costs.
- One Angel Square, UK: Uses double-skin facade that helps reduce energy, underground concrete tubes and furniture from recycled waste pallets.
- Bosco Verticale, Italy: This most intense green facade helps with air quality more than it destroys.
- Vancouver Convention Centre, Canada: The roofs are natural pollination centers that help with controlling temperature, seed distribution and also assist in water drainage.
Focus on sustainable architecture education:
Future architects must have deep knowledge and respect to adopt sustainable practices in their work. They should be able to meet the ever-growing need for infrastructure and also be mindful of the environment. Many modern amenities can be an existential threat to global warming. Continuous construction activities are bound to affect the earth’s crust creating shifts. The use of raw materials like steel, cement and plastic is hazardous. Talking about the amenities like air-conditioning systems, the most energy-consuming and ill affecting innovations.
India is yet to build 70% of the buildings that will exist in 2030. If we continue with our current building design practices, the need and impact of these hazardous materials are inevitable.
The new age demands a huge shift in the pedagogical approach of architecture. Many critics of modernism argue that sustainable architecture should be integrated in general and not as a different approach.
State of sustainable architecture in India:
Overall, less than 5% of the Indian architecture college curriculum caters to the environmental impacts of their designs. Hence, the guidelines of the Indian Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) are visionary but not implementable. Nor the current or the future workforce is capable of building a fully sustainable piece of infrastructure.
There is a serious need to change the approach towards sustainable education in India and around the world. Changes like alternatives to ACs, heating systems, ventilation systems for the betterment of not only the environment but also their occupants.
Catering to the problem, a Mumbai-based environment consultancy firm has stepped up to be a solution. Under the FairConditioning program of 2015, based on building-cooling management, they launched the ‘Academic Curricula Integration Project’ (ACIP).
The ‘Academic Curricula Integration Project’ (ACIP):
To make the next generation of building professionals – architects, engineers, building consultants, energy modelers etc., capable enough to have actionable knowledge on sustainable and green buildings. The use of sustainable cooling technologies and principles, efficient building designs and enhanced sustainable design pedagogies, are some values at the core of this program. The program envisages a pedagogy in architecture and engineering where sustainability considerations are at par with space and structural considerations in building and cooling design thinking and execution.
It also looks forward to executing the importance of sustainable Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems in building services.
To find out more about their work or to register for the course or workshops check out https://fairconditioning.org/program/acip/
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