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Sustainable architecture for businesses

Businesses play a key role in the global challenge of sustainability. Building with a view to the future should be a mantra for all business owners. And this is where sustainable architecture comes into its own.

There's no shortage of challenges in the world in which we live. These include challenges that affect the whole planet and that are fast becoming critical emergencies.

Environmental crises, climate change, loss of biodiversity... Complex problems to which there is no single answer, but where we must look for a creative combination of solutions. One of these solutions is sustainable architecture, which will play an important role in the strategy agreed among EU member states.

 

The era of sustainable architecture

Architecture and sustainability are two elements that should be considered as one when planning a project. The main goal is to create energy-efficient buildings that make use of natural resources without creating unnecessary costs.

In this context, pioneering innovations, are emerging in the building sector, with new architectural designs that include solutions to mitigate environmental pollution, ways to better manage resources used in the home and use of technology to make the most of these resources.

The boom in sustainable projects is a new way of looking at the balance between design and the smart optimisation of natural resources.

“Making the most of natural resources without creating unnecessary costs is the bedrock of sustainable architecture.”

Sustainable principles in building projects

Sustainable building projects consider how the building will affect the people who live there or use the building as part of their daily lives.

The five basic principles of sustainable building projects can be summarised as:

  • The "3R" rule: reducereuse and recycle.
  • Economise on natural resources, especially energy and water.
  • Manage and analyse building materials to reduce the impact of future waste and greenhouse gases.
  • Improve the health and quality of life of users of the building.
  • Protect the surrounding area where the project will take place.

Sustainable architecture is based on concepts such as conservation, saving and rational consumption. This immediately translates into environmental and community benefits. In general, the key requirements to consider are responsible use of water and energy, and use of materials that will benefit the ecosystem (vertical gardens are a perfect example).

Solutions that involve reusing something rather than throwing it away are a good way to reduce the environmental impact. This could include:

  • Re-using materials from large-scale renovation or demolition projects: this is an excellent option as long as the materials meet the required quality standards.
  • Recycling waste material: such as waste wood or by-products (plastic, bricks, etc.).
  • Using materials with recycled components: such as gypsum boards, panels, metal equipment, etc.
  • Supporting local trade: by sourcing materials from local suppliers. On the one hand, shorter journeys create fewer greenhouse gas emissions. On the other, this helps boost the local economy and helps prevent the concentration of industry.
  • Using renewable sources of wood such as bamboo, cork and fast-growing trees. This includes wood from certified sustainable plantations.
  • Using paint and primers that are free from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

A quality finish is essential for putting any building on the market and this includes strategies for sourcing materials to improve environmental conditions, making savings and improving the well-being of people affected by building.

 

Five tips for a sustainable office

Before starting an architectural project, wherever possible, it's important to find a site away from high-voltage areas or places where the subsoil could damage the structure of the building.

Some of the most important areas are:

1. Paying close attention to insulation for roofs, external walls and windows to ensure the best protection again the elements.

2. The orientation of the windows and their airtight installation to ensure the best use of natural light and contribute towards energy saving.

3. Good ventilation to prevent the build-up of radioactive and toxic elements such as radon gas. CO2 controllers can be installed to achieve a safe level of ventilation.

4. More efficient appliances with and A++ or A+++ energy rating, as these reduce CO2 emissions (with the resulting energy saving).

5. Use of automation to monitor and control the energy used in the building.

Architecture and sustainability to not make building projects more expensive; on the contrary, sustainable building leads to the creation of better buildings with lower costs and maintenance.

“There's no reason for sustainable architecture to be more expensive in the short term, but it has to be more cost-effective in the long-term due to savings made on costs and maintenance.”
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