Architects have always been at the forefront of satisfying the needs and interests of the community. As individuals become more conscious of the environment, architects find new ways to deliver “green” principles in their design.

The construction and housing sectors have had a big impact on the environment, which the Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) principle aims to address. Over the years, this design principle has inspired architects to design the most energy-efficient home. It takes a cue from traditional and indigenous concepts of design and harnesses science and technology to deliver efficiency while staying attuned to modern aesthetics.

Principles of Green Design

Environmental issues and ecological footprint are integral in the designing and decision-making process. The goal is to reduce the consumption of materials and energy, and find building solutions that will encourage the use and upkeep of the building in a sustainable manner. Architects championing ESD not only channel these principles into their design to meet the demands but to also inspire green awareness among the building’s occupants.

Orientation

The first and major principle of ESD is orientation. Designers take careful consideration of this element as it will influence the whole design process and the overall energy performance of the home. The problem of how a building can provide thermal comfort to its occupants without using up too much energy must be addressed. To do this, the designer must ensure maximum winter solar gain and balance it with the impact of summer sun. Creating micro-climates is the key to making each area of the building efficient and comfortable.

Thermal Mass

In ESD, it is important to design a building that can withstand daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations. An architect must consider the necessary materials and insulation techniques to minimize the impact of outdoor temperature on the building’s interiors. By using effective levels of bulk and foil insulation, heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter can be prevented.

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Materials

Designers select materials based on how they can ensure long life and low maintenance while minimizing environmental impact and maintaining the building’s thermal performance and aesthetic. Architects select from a plethora of natural materials, including rammed earth, timber, straw bale, lightweight metal roof sheeting, and many more. Designers select materials that come from sustainable sources and put much value on recycled materials.

Heating and Ventilation

Households depend on and use up the most energy in heating their homes. To achieve low energy use, sustainable methods of heating must be in conjunction with the design. Water heated through solar energy is the best choice for domestic use. In terms of ventilation, windows and doors should be arranged to enable cross flow ventilation across spaces. This is when micro-climates become more relevant, where windows will assist the flow of cold and hot air naturally.

Over the years, the ESD principle in architecture has significantly evolved and expanded. Rain water can now be collected, treated and distributed more efficiently. Waste management has also improved due to stricter regulations, and safety and health are prioritized. As green awareness becomes more ingrained in daily life, it has become imperative to search for new building solutions that will reduce our ecological footprint on the planet.