7 sustainable buildings to inspire
Nowadays, the majority of architectural and urban designs have focused mainly on attention to the environment through sustainable construction based on sustainable development.
In order to soften the negative impact on nature, sustainable constructions aim at reducing the use of solid residue that might be discarded, as well as promoting the mindful use of water and electricity.
During the first years of the 20th century, due to population hike and lacking housing, a complete disrespect for the environment became common to all dwelling projects.
It was only during the second half of the 20th century that the environment became a real focus of discussion and international regulations.
What characteristics are main features in sustainable buildings?
At first – and quite generally – the main feature present in all sustainable buildings was a fundamental concern for the environment, including the community surrounding the construction area, the materials and building techniques.
Key aspects of sustainable buildings are:
- Adaptation to the local topography;
- An analysis of the environmental impact to native species of the region;
- The inclusion of common areas that are completely accessible to all;
- Adaptation to the local climate – reduction of electricity consumption due toa n optimization of the building’s ventilation system;
- Use of natural lighting and heat – such as solar power, for instance;
- Use of green roofing.
Obviously, other aspects might be just as important – if not essential – to the sustainable development of general construction, such as the choice of which building materials to use.
Ideal materials to be used in sustainable construction
The Brazilian Environmental Ministry points out a set of best practices to those looking to build sustainably. Among those recommendations is a series of attitudes regarding the choice of materials and techniques, essentially:
- A preference of materials available in the building’s own location – the least processed those are, the better. They should also be non-toxic and potentially recyclable;
- To avoid chemicals with a potential to harm the surrounding environment and the wellbeing of people and other species (examples of those chemicals would be asbestos, formaldehyde, etc.);
- Correct residue disposal policies – residue separation and proper destination.
- The use of a thermal solar collector – to heat the water.
- Taking advantage of the natural lighting potential of the location – using photovoltaic solar energy to light multiple ambiences;
- Using wind power to pump water.
7 examples of sustainable buildings
To those that imagine we are miles away from the developments reached by other countries in the sustainable building technologies field, it’s valuable to note that Brazil is the 4th country in the world with the larger number of green buildings, behind the USA, China and UAE, only. Below you can check out a list of 7 examples of environmentally friendly constructions.
- The Coca-Cola factory in the Brazilian Southern state of Paraná – The first industrial building in the country to achieve LEED certification from the American NGO U.S. Green Building Council. The plant has the largest green roof in Latin America, efficient consumption of water and electricity and 41% per cent of its total area is covered with vegetation;
- The EcoCommercial Building (ECB) in Sao Paulo (Brazilian Southeast) – the building uses solar panels to generate electricity, it helps preserve the local woods, natural ventilation is used in 95% of the internal spaces and almost every material used in the construction was repurposed or recycled;
- The Porto Brasilis building in Rio de Janeiro (Brazilian Southeast) – it has a rain water recycling and treatment system, as well as natural lighting in circa 70% of internal spaces;
- The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte (Brazilian Southeast) – the building has a photovoltaic power plant able to light up to 1,200 residences, asides from repurposing rain water to use in all lavatories;
- The Energisa building in Campina Grande (Brazilian Northeast, in the state of Paraiba) – the building network was constructed with recyclable materials and it uses repurposed water from the rain;
- The Leroy Merlin building in Sao Paulo – all air conditioning is done by low consumption units, the lavatories and gardens are all serviced with repurposed water and all flushing is done with intelligent valves;
- The Cristal Island in Moscow, Russia – the beautiful building in the picture below is a construction thought out especially to be in complete harmony with the environment. The tower, chosen just so we can move away from Brazilian projects, for just a second, will produce, when it’s finished, all the electricity it will consume by means of solar and wind turbines. In addition, the ventilation system will be entirely natural and focused into beautiful green spaces.
Sustainable building projects are a reality in every corner of the world. And we’ve reached the point of no return, thankfully.
Asides from its environmental preservation features and usage of renewable power and water, green buildings can not only be practical, but also very beautiful. We should also highlight their ability to save more than 50% in building material costs, which, in turn, makes them more economically interesting.
If you are interested in your own green building, make sure to hire a company that you can fully trust, and that employs high standards of quality and waste disposal policies, since an important part of the project is the use of recycled or repurposed materials. That should also guarantee nice savings for your construction or renovation project.