Sustainable architecture is the idea of using environmentally conscious techniques and materials in the field of architecture. This green building and living technique is intent on creating as little waste as possible, using renewable and clean energy, and building with materials that are not damaging to living things or the earth’s environment.

Energy Use

Perhaps the largest component of sustainable architecture is how energy is used to provide power for the structure that is being built. Excellent insulation is important in a structure that is built with conserving energy in mind. Passive solar energy such as that gathered from strategically placed windows is also an important component in conserving energy and using sustainable energy sources. Awnings, shades, and shutters are considered green in that they use no electricity but can serve as passive building cooling devices.

Renewable Energy

Solar panels are utilised to capture renewable energy for use in an environmentally conscious home or building. Active and passive solar hot water heaters are another component of creating sustainable and renewable energy.

While small wind turbines may also be utilized as a way of harnessing wind power to create energy, they are not useful until winds reach at least eight-miles-per hour.

Air source heat pumps act much like an air conditioner but in reverse. These pumps can absorb heat from cold outside air and deliver it to inside the home or building. Geothermal heat pumps can also utilize warmth from deep in the ground to heat a building or home.

Building materials

Sustainable building materials may include: rock, straw, bamboo, trass (a type of volcanic rock), linoleum, sustainably harvested wood, sheep wool, concrete, clay, sisal, cork, coconut, and vermiculite. Recycled materials are also an important component of sustainable architecture and may include: denim, glass, and reclaimed, or re-used, lumber. Re-used doors, windows and other recycled architectural components are also a part of sustainable architecture.

Using green building materials that create as little environmental hazard as possible is an important, these materials include cellulose insulation, organic or milk-based paints, and treating lumber with boric acid to prevent insect damage.

Waste Management

There is often also a focus on on-site waste management in terms of solid waste, building and construction waste, and on any by-products of on-site industry. Composting toilets, kitchen waste composting, and off-site recycling are all taken into account when considering green building and sustainable architecture.

Sustainable architecture is a multi-faceted field of green living that continues to grow as more people become environmentally conscious.