The Quick Guide to Sustainability in Architecture and Urban Design

Sustainable architecture has emerged as a response to many global challenges including climate change, resource depletion, urbanization, and economic development. It can be applied to all aspects of architecture from initial concept to construction, and operation. 

The most important thing we must remember about sustainable architecture design is that it should be a long-term investment. 

Sustainable design should not just be about making a building look good for a few years. It is about making sure that the structure will last for many years without any major repairs or renovations ─ and that buildings are environmentally friendly, energy-efficient, and in harmony with the natural environment.

What are the benefits of sustainability in architecture and urban design?

The benefits of sustainable urban architecture are many. 

For one, it saves money. It reduces negative impacts on the environment by minimizing resource consumption, pollution, and waste generation. Sustainably designed buildings use energy more efficiently, reduce the need for heating and cooling, and include plenty of natural, rather than artificial, light. They will also use water more conservatively and might include rainwater harvesting features.

Key considerations for sustainable urban architecture design

When designing sustainable urban landscapes and architecture, we should do so in accordance with the needs and preferences of the inhabitants of the city. Key considerations are:

  • The urban environment

As urban populations continue to grow, sustainable cities are crucial to the health, wellbeing, and success of our cities.

We must ensure that we engage the community, and design an environment that is safe and usable. We need to consider factors such as:

  • Orientation of buildings

  • Respecting the local ecology

  • Scale of buildings

In addition to employing a socially and environmentally responsible approach to development, we should also seek to include shared facilities and targeted amenities.

  • Residential development

We should aim to futureproof our homes in the urban environment while designing them to provide excellent quality of living. We should make them affordable, reliable, and with low running costs.

In addition, we must pay attention to the use of sustainable and recycled materials in construction, and deliver green space in the neighborhoods we create. Further, we should develop residential stock in locations that are highly integrated with basic amenities and sustainable transport options.

  • Renewable energy sources

As well as creating highly energy-efficient buildings, we should seek to introduce renewable energies into our design considerations. We need to consider emissions, climate, and energy security.

In the buildings we develop, we need to think about an appropriate selection of renewable energies. This might include, solar, wind, biomass, and community renewable energy projects.

Simultaneously, we must take a practical approach, considering scale, lifecycles, reliability, and complexity.

  • Retail options

While online shopping is gaining in popularity, we should also make certain that local and suitable retail options are provided. In today’s cities, we must consider retail mix, including hospitality, restaurants, leisure, etc.

When designing retail space in our cities, we must consider factors such as scale, convenience, energy consumption, and comfort.

  • Office spaces

Working practices are evolving, and we must create office and commerce spaces that are adaptable, in buildings that are efficient and that can deliver the flexibility required to benefit from technology improvements and innovation.

What do sustainable office buildings look like? Think orientation, flexibility, ventilation, energy efficiency, water management, etc.

Making a better world with sustainable urban architecture

Sustainable architecture design focuses on environmental responsibility, social inclusivity, and being culturally appropriate. The practice of sustainable architecture includes the use of renewable energy sources, recycled materials, and organic materials. Sustainable design also promotes a healthy indoor environment with increased air quality.

Is this too much to ask, or expect? We have the capability to make our urban spaces sustainable. What we must do is ensure that we prioritize sustainability when designing the urban space.

At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed, and created. To leverage our experience in sustainable design and construction, contact ACB Consulting.

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