“Human beings don’t have a pollution problem; they have a design problem. If humans were to devise products, tools, furniture, homes, factories, and cities more intelligently from the start, they wouldn’t even need to think in terms of waste, or contamination, or scarcity. Good design would allow for abundance, endless reuse, and pleasure.” – Authors Michael Braungart and William McDonough in their book, The Upcycle
Sustainability has gone beyond being a duty to a conscious and deliberate effort today. While urbanization and population grow exponentially, natural resources are depleting at an alarming rate.
One of the vital ways to integrate sustainability is through architecture and design. In the world of rapid urbanization today, it has become increasingly important for buildings and structures to be built on sustainable principles to ensure longevity.
While earlier sustainable measures were considered expensive and a waste of effort, today, industries across the economy have come to the realization that such measures aid in not only maintaining ecologically sound practices but also reduce costs in the long run.
Different principles in design today can be integrated with sustainable practices starting with the choice of materials, equipment and also design layouts.
Aspects of Sustainable Design
Here is how a career in architecture and design, perhaps, has the maximum scope to include sustainability at its core:
1. Utilisation of low-impact materials
Perhaps the most prominent way for the integration of sustainable designs is through sourcing of local and low-impact materials. Materials like concrete and plastic often produce excessive waste when broken down and also emit harmful gases during the production stage, thus, making it toxic for the environment in the long run.
Innovative use of low-impact materials that allow recycling and are low on toxicity is the first step towards sustainability in design.
Additionally, in urban and tropical areas, utilization of reflective materials for building structures is an excellent solution to the excessive heat thereby, reducing the need for energy consuming HVAC (Heating, ventilation and cooling systems) systems.
2. Integration of energy-saving appliances
Talking about HVAC systems, the most noteworthy aspect of sustainability is through utilisation of energy saving systems for basic needs like lighting and ventilation.
HVAC systems today need to go through several rounds of testing and quality control to ascertain environment-friendliness. Finding innovative ways to reduce the utilisation of such systems is an integral aspect of sustainable design.
Integration of various forms of unconventional energy into the design is a great way to not only include sustainable principles but also add aesthetic beauty. Thus, designers today strive to create designs that mix sustainability without compromising on the visual appeal of a project.
Such measures not only make the project eco-friendly but also contribute significantly towards reducing operating costs through low energy utilisation.
3. Applying intelligent design layouts
While incorporation of such energy-saving techniques and equipment are the perfect way to introduce sustainability to projects, even the basic design layout could have a substantial effect on reducing the energy utilisation of a building or structure.
Through introducing intelligent cross-ventilation ducts and large windows that allow the usage of natural light and air for lighting and ventilation processes, the effects of excessive energy consumption can be significantly reduced.
Designers today have shifted their focus from utilisation of electrical appliances to natural forms of lighting and ventilation.
Why do we need to learn to create sustainable design?
It is important to note that the issue of environment protection and thus, the need for sustainability measures only came into prominence after introduction of new technologies and the new form of ‘digital’ design.
Olden forms of architecture utilised less environment harming materials and processes. Therefore, fresh ways to approach sustainable design is by taking inspiration from earlier trends in architecture and understand the interplay of materials and design in the olden times.
If designers notice the olden architecture, it is obvious that initially buildings were created with the intention of causing minimal disturbance to nature, whereas now, structures are built regardless of it.
Therefore, a way to pave the way for sustainable practices in the future is to actually understand design practices and philosophies from the past.
The beginning of sustainable practices in business begins from the core of their operations – the buildings itself. Thus, sustainable design is the key to the future of design and thereby, plays an important role in design study for architects and designers.
Sustainable design creates a path to create structures that utilise innovation and also reduce dependency on traditional energy resources.
With architecture forming the basic pillars of society, sustainable design not only affects individual businesses but also the entire society and community as a whole to create better futures for the next generations.