Whether it applies to buildings or constructions, sustainable design is a term that refers to certain practices. These seek to reduce negative impacts on the environment, improving building performance in order to address development-related issues. It aims to achieve things like resource usage efficiency, planned economic growth, stable social progress and the elimination of poverty. Sustainable design concerns itself with several issues. The most common ones are building design and management, construction processes, material technology, energy efficiency and conservation of resources. At its core, however, it relies on the five essential principles that we will discuss about in this article.
The Five Essential Principles For Sustainable Design
#1. Optimizing Use of Solar and Other Renewable Energies
Even though fossil fuels provide for over 85% of all the energy we consume, anyone who has a grasp of the current state of global climate realizes something. They can’t be depended upon for much longer. There is awater crisis that many regions of the world are currently experiencing. Therefore, hydroelectric energy is quickly becoming unviable as well. In response, advocates of sustainable design promote the use of alternative, renewable and clean forms of energy. It is true that there are plenty of alternative energy sources. Still, solar energy is by far the most abundant, efficient and powerful form of renewable energy available. It makes the perfect choice for use in buildings and constructions.
One can implement or develop the use of solar energy either actively or passively. Active implementation implies the use of devices that convert sunlight into electricity. During recent years, the cost of solar panels has decreased, making them very affordable. On the other hand, passive use of solar energy means designing the building to take advantage of natural sunlight for both heating and lighting. A strategic placement of correctly sized windows can go a long way, particularly when complemented by the use of skylights and light tubes. This also entails designing a system that traps heat when it is necessary, taking advantage of prevailing breezes for cross-ventilation during the spring, summer, and fall. The purpose is to cool down the building’s interior environment.
#2. Reducing or Eliminating the Use of Air Conditioning
It is a well-known fact that air conditioning uses great amounts of energy, generating pollution and negatively contributing to sustainability. Luckily, you can take measures in order to improve indoor air quality while generating a minimal amount of pollution.
It is possible to design buildings in a way that takes advantage of natural air currents in order to create cross-ventilation. Therefore, you will reduce the need to use air conditioning during hot seasons. Cool evening breezes can flush out all the warm air that has gathered in the building during the day, replacing it with fresh, cool and crisp new air. At the same time, one can implement a system of cross-ventilation in order to constantly renew the air inside crowded buildings.
#3. Improving Indoor Air Quality
In urban areas, people spend up to 87% of their time indoors. However, many studies have proven air inside buildings is often more polluted than outside. If one does not take care of them properly, buildings can accumulate a huge amount of toxins, allergens, mold, mildew, fungus, bacteria, and dust mites.
Proper ventilation helps eliminate fumes and other toxins, resulting in clean and breathable air around the clock. However, in order for ventilation to properly function, it is important to make sure there are no internal sources of contamination in the building. Apart from removing dirt, dust, moisture, humidity and pollutants during the final stages of construction, you can also achieve sustainability by selecting building materials that have minimal toxic properties and reduce off-gassing without shedding fiber or dust of any kind. It’s also vital to avoid materials with toxic substances like formaldehyde.
#4. Thorough Insulation
In colder climates, every degree of heat counts. However, it doesn’t really matter how much heat a person can gather. As long as there are leaks through non-insulated windows, doors, roofs and other openings, things can become tricky.
You should apply a good insulation to ceiling spaces, walls, roofs, suspended floors. Sometimes, even concrete slabs need it in order to ensure there will be no leakage of any kind. This is especially important in cold climates where inadequate insulation causes interiors to lose heat rapidly, resulting in an excessive consumption of electric heat.
#5. Creating High-Performance Homes
Recently, it was calculated that the United States consumes about 18% of the world’s total energy use. This is an alarming number that sustainable design advocates aim to reduce. They plan to do that through sustainable construction practices. Also, they consider the design of high-performance homes. Resource and energy efficient, sustainable, comfortable, durable and healthy, high-performance homes are designed to use as little energy as possible. It is an effective way to maintain a certain standard of living. Although building a high-performance home is not the cheapest, it’s an investment that will produce yearly savings of up to 80% in the long run.
You can achieve high-performance through various steps designed to make the most out of both natural and processed energy. Some of the most effective are high-performance insulation, adequate solar orientation, high-performance windows, walls of thermal mass, geothermal heating and cooling and sustainable building materials. In some cases, it may be productive to schedule a home energy audit. This way, you can cut any excessive use of electricity. In addition to protecting the environment and saving money, high-performance indoor environments will greatly improve the overall quality of living by creating healthier living dynamics.
As a conclusion, sustainable design is not only important but necessary to the future development of the human kind. Luckily, having expanded its reach across the globe, each day it is becoming more prevalent. Whether it is for building, constructions or interior design, there are hundreds of resources for sustainable design available to the public. However, it is important to evaluate all the options. This way, you can apply the ones that make the most sense given one’s current economic, geographic and social living conditions. By adhering to the previously discussed principles of sustainable design, anyone can do their part in creating a better world.