The public are becoming increasingly concerned about sustainability and the environment. While this has been building momentum for several years, the final episode of the BBC’s Blue Planet II seems to have sparked a wave of action.
According to Resource, the Attenborough effect resulted in searches for ‘plastic recycling’ increasing 55%, while searches for conservation charities also showed a significant rise. It’s clear consumers are taking environmental concerns seriously.
But it isn’t just plastic waste that people are determined to tackle. All industries are increasingly turning their attention to their impact on the environment. In design, this has led to the growing prevalence of sustainable architecture.
CRL also believes this focus has resulted from understanding the impact our buildings have on carbon emissions.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, buildings are responsible for nearly half of all global energy use, produce 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, and account for 20% of all solid waste in developed countries.
Realising their responsibility, architects are increasingly looking at ways to cut emissions, reduce energy consumption, and minimise the environmental impact of buildings through their design.
Whether building or renovating homes and commercial buildings, renewable materials and innovative design can help boost the sustainability of a development. Speaking to the New Economy, Niall Healy, managing director of Healy Cornelius Design and a member of the Chartered Institute for Architectural Technologists, noted that technical development can also aid in improving energy efficiency.
“For example, there have been significant developments in the use of ground source and air source heating, where the energy consumed to operate the heating plant is a small proportion of [the] energy output they deliver.”
There are also many who are taking a more literal approach to green architecture, by cloaking buildings in plants and trees, transforming the development into a natural cleanser of carbon dioxide.
As well as having a positive environmental impact, sustainable architecture can also improve the health of building occupants. In fact, researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University have embarked on a three-year study to determine just how much health and performance is affected by green buildings.
But what does the ideal sustainable building look like? CRL describes it as “using renewable, natural materials, sourcing their own energy and water, and functioning without having an adverse effect on the environment.”