Progress: Innovation and transferability
Projects must demonstrate innovative approaches to sustainable development, pushing the envelope of practice and exploring new disciplinary frontiers. Innovative concepts regarding design, integration of materials and methods, structure, enclosure and mechanical systems, to be adapted to the needs of the future consumers.
Advancements in the disciplines of architecture, urban and landscape design, civil, urban and environmental engineering, and other fields involved in the production of the built environment. Long-term monitoring methods to evaluate whether expectations and goals have been met.
People: Ethical standards and social inclusion
Nowadays the consumer is demanding a growing awareness on preservation and environmental balance. Therefore, projects must promote social inclusion at all stages of construction, from planning and building to use and servicing. It will ensure an enduring positive impact on communities. Proposals must demonstrate how they enhance the collective realm.
Planet: Resource and environmental performance
Projects must exhibit a sensible use and management of natural resources throughout their entire life cycle. Long-term environmental concerns, especially pertaining to stocks and flows of material and energy, should be an integral part of the ecological architecture.
For instance, placing emphasis on the use of renewable energy in construction, use and upkeep of the built fabric to reduce CO2 emissions and avoid toxicity.
Prosperity: Economic viability and compatibility
Projects must be economically feasible and able to secure financing. Projects should cover operating costs over their lifetime and generate an acceptable rate of return. This way good production will be compatible with the requirements set by the cycle of life of the building.
Public administrations sign up to sustainability. The aim is to integrate the project into the wider economic framework of local, regional, and global monetary flows; to demonstrate flexibility to adapt to future changes of user needs, ownership, laws, regulations, and economic fluctuations.
Place: Contextual and aesthetic impact
Projects must convey a high standard of architectural quality as a prevalent form of cultural expression. With space, form and aesthetic impact of utmost significance, the material manifestation of the design must make a positive and lasting contribution to the physical, human and cultural environment.
Current use and benefits of sustainable construction
Europe has already settled sustainable construction as the practice to be its building future. It is run by two premises: energy efficiency and circular economy. The idea is basic and efficient: having sustainable building, reducing environmental impact and using rather more intelligently natural resources.
Recent European guidelines set a clear path towards promoting sustainable behaviours. Europe 2020 strategies seek for intelligent and sustainable growth heading towards recycling, reusing basic materials such as paper, plastics, wood and ferrous metals. Member states are willing to invest on these practices.
Building sector is responsible for a third of the total waste generated by the European Union, but implementing sustainable projects will start recovering up to a 50% of this damage.
By all means, renewable energy will be a key factor contributing to reducing excessive electricity consumption in the buildings. Furthermore, solar energy will be compulsory for those structures expected to create hot sanitary water.
It means that taking into account solar installations, it will absorb sunlight through its sensors to heat fluids and to transfer its energy to a heat exchanger. The best idea is that it can both be implemented in big constructions as well as in ecological houses.
At least in Europe, this kind of sustainability processes are to be assessed by the Energy Performance Certificate. Basically it is a rating, estimated based on the daily energy consumption during the standard hours. Finally, the indicator states the CO2 kilograms emitted divided by the premise’s square meters. There are different profiles, those who have the smallest consumption would be give category “A”, being “G” the worst category (the one consuming the most).
Sustainable architecture applied to building sector will help our environment achieve the desired welfare and will also guarantee relevant progress in the future.