Reducing the Impact of Architecture on the Environment
BLOG: Every day, each one of us makes decisions that affect the environment. Architectural design is even more impactful. Not only is the environment altered when a structure is built but the embodied energy in the materials and the energy the building systems use to run it also has long term effects. We can make our buildings sustainable thereby reducing the long term impact on the environment. From design to construction, there are positive and negative environmental impacts; designers, owners and builders all need to promote the positive impacts and reduce the negative as much as possible. It’s a matter of good stewardship!
Recycling materials is one way to do this and yet, it still takes a lot of energy to do so. Owners and their architects can choose materials that are sustainable or have been recycled into new materials. As architects, we have the opportunity to educate the consumer and incorporate less waste into our designs whenever feasible.
Although the initial investment may be more costly, the long run savings of environmentally friendly products will offset that initial cost. As mentioned previously, higher R-value insulation in a building is one way to use less energy. The better the structure is insulated, the less the systems in the building have to work in order to maintain a desired level of comfort. Sustainable siding options limit the emissions created in the production and off-gassing after the installation. Technological advances in materials give consumers ‘greener’ building options to reduce the carbon footprint. Environmentally friendly choices will truly become an investment, adding value to a home or commercial building.
Taking advantage of natural elements reduces energy used and the environmental impact of a structure. Strategically orienting the structure on the site incorporates passive lighting and ventilation into the design. Passive solar building systems use a combination of solar energy, material mass and glazing locations to save money that would have been used to heat and cool the structure.
In our “bigger is better” world, consumers need to evaluate their true space needs so architects have the freedom to design spaces that meet those needs in a scaled down manner. Smaller spaces do not require as much energy or as much material, both in building and furnishing the space. Bigger isn’t always better; thoughtfully designed space is better.
Reducing the negative impact on the environment starts with each of us. In the building world, architects have the responsibility to educate their clients on the material and system choices available and how they impact the environment. The industry needs to work towards making these choices more economically feasible. We all need to make the commitment to improve the earth for future generations rather than contribute to its decline.
About the Author: Sherry Finn is one of our Architectural Designers. She joined the TMA team with nearly 30 years of AutoCAD experience and 20+ years executing construction documents. Sherry has built great relationships with contractors, professionals and clients throughout her career. Those relationships, along with her organizational skills, are what allow her to ensure that your project’s timeline is constantly progressing.
If you think TMA might be the right fit for you and your project, please give us a call at 732-262-0046. Our staff of talented designers is waiting to work with you!