6 Ways to Improve Sustainability in Architecture

  • by Emily Newton
  • /
  • 2021-12-09 23:00:34
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  • International
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  • 21373
6 Ways to Improve Sustainability in Architecture


The Biden administration’s Build Back Better bill was created to enhance ecological conservation by developing green infrastructure. Part of the document involves monitoring and minimizing building emissions and surface-level pollution.  

Construction professionals can abide by new and future regulations by adopting eco-conscious building practices. Builders can improve the sustainability of architecture as environmental engineers and scientists continue developing low-impact devices and materials. Over time, minimizing construction pollution can significantly decrease climate change effects and other forms of ecological degradation.

The Demand for Sustainable Architecture  

Nearly 39% of worldwide greenhouse gas come from buildings. About 28% of pollution results from heating, cooling and lighting structures. The additional 11% derive from the construction process.

When emissions invade the atmosphere, they limit its ability to produce life-sufficient surface temperatures. Earth relies on a specific atmospheric composition, supporting the global ecosystem. 

Naturally, the planet absorbs infrared radiation and produces heat. This is used to warm its surface, maintaining an abundance of resources and supporting all species. Then, the atmosphere collects extra energy and emits it to space. 

Greenhouse gases alter the process by raising the atmospheric light-to-heat exchange rate. They also hold excess energy in the environment and refilter it through the heat production procedure. Emissions increase the Earth’s temperature over time. 

Construction-related greenhouse gases come from various sources. Heavy machinery and vehicles used on building sites run on fossil fuels, producing emissions. Another significant source of pollution is construction materials. Manufacturing and transportation create atmospheric degradation.

The design, envelope and appliances used to develop a building also contribute to its carbon footprint. Architects can improve the eco-friendliness of structures by following these six sustainable architecture principles.  

1. Use Low-Impact Building Materials

Builders may effectively minimize construction-related pollution by utilizing eco-friendly building materials. One low-impact product is cellulose insulation. The material comes from repurposed newspapers, minimizing landfill pollution.

Manufacturers treat the paper with borate to decrease its flammability and interference from pests. The treatment also minimizes mold development, protecting the environment and residents’ health. Construction professionals may use additional recycled materials to decrease a building’s carbon footprint.

Many environmental architects use the deconstruction practice to gather used goods. Individuals can purchase the materials for a low cost, reusing them in new projects to enhance their sustainability.

2. Add Cool Roofs

A new rooftop construction technique involves utilizing light-colored or reflective materials to restrict solar heat absorption. Residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems account for nearly 441 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year. When architects prevent overheating, they can minimize air conditioners’ energy usage.

Cool roofs deflect sunlight rather than absorb it, keeping buildings 50 F cooler. They can also prevent overheating on the surface by reflecting energy into the environment before reaching the ground. The rooftop technology effectively increases a property’s sustainability.

3. Install Renewable Energy Systems

Architects can also install solar, wind and geothermal systems on residential properties to minimize their carbon footprints. Placing solar panels on a building’s roof may decrease its reliance on the conventional grid. Photovoltaic (PV) systems produce emission-free electricity by absorbing solar radiation and knocking electrons loose.

The loose particles then move through the system, creating a current of energy. Wires capture the current and convert it into accessible electricity. Solar power helps residents decrease their greenhouse gas emissions and utility costs.

Construction professionals can also improve a building’s sustainability by adding a small wind turbine. Individuals can source all their electricity from emission-free technology in many high-wind regions. They can additionally install geothermal heat pumps to decrease HVAC pollution.

Geothermal temperature control systems rely on the differentiation in surface and subsurface heat. The device connects a heat pump to buried pipes, accessing temperatures hundreds of feet below the surface. A special fluid circulates through the pipes, carrying warmer or cooler air to the surface.

Once the fluid reaches a home, the pump can convert it into heat, controlling indoor temperatures. Like solar and wind power, geothermal technology produces little to no greenhouse gas emissions.

4. Add a Rainwater Harvesting System

Another sustainable building design enhances freshwater conservation efforts. Rainwater harvesting systems decrease a resident’s reliance on city water sources. They work by collecting stormwater in barrels.

The barrel structure moves water directly to irrigation devices or filtration systems. Once rainwater filters through a purifier, residents can utilize it for washing, bathing and consuming. Architects can also install rain screens, gutters and slopes to move stormwater away from a home’s foundation toward a rainwater harvesting system.

Construction professionals can also use the system to reduce masonry moisture levels along with efficient management techniques, preserving materials over time. They may decrease damage and enhance a structure’s longevity, minimizing unnecessary waste. Additionally, masonry moisture management techniques paired with rainwater harvesting systems can reduce runoff and protect local ecosystems.

5. Engage in Modular Conduction Practices

Architects can additionally enhance a project’s sustainability by engaging in modular construction. The building practice occurs in a warehouse, away from a construction site. Professionals develop a home in modules, sealing them together on-site.

The construction technique is significantly more sustainable because it reduces material waste and uses recycled components. It also minimizes emissions by using fewer heavy machines and simultaneously developing more projects. Builders can also achieve a tighter envelope seal and reduce energy loss over time.  

6. Install Smart Appliances

Construction professionals can also add smart appliances to homes to increase their energy efficiency. Smart ovens contain cameras and internal thermometers, delivering information directly to a resident’s smartphone. The feature reduces the need to open the oven, minimizing heat loss.

They can additionally install smart thermostats to decrease HVAC emissions. The technology connects to a home’s control system, adjusting indoor temperatures based on the weather and its occupancy. Over time, the devices significantly shrink a structure’s carbon footprint and reduce utility costs.  

How to Begin Building a Sustainable Home

When you are ready to begin constructing sustainable homes, you can start by finding local recycled material providers in your area. Then, train your crew on using low-impact building practices to minimize error and material waste. Finally, builders can invest in electric construction machines, tools and appliances to decrease on-site emissions and improve their eco-friendliness

 sustainable building design
 sustainable architecture

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  • Emily Newton



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