Just how important is sustainable architecture? Here's why it matters, why you should care, and some key examples of what green construction can look like.

Shelter is one of the most basic human concepts. We have been building permanent dwellings for around 10,000 years, since humanity first transitioned from living off the land to raising crops. That’s also around five percent of the time that humans (homo sapiens) have existed at all.


They also represent important areas for intervention and improvement; both in terms of environmental impact and our overall well being. We can make these spaces and their construction more green with sustainable architecture.



This may incorporate the use of recycled, recyclable, or environmentally friendly materials, or the use of renewable energy as part of the structure’s development, construction, and ongoing use.

有各种各样的地区、国家和international certifications of sustainability, including the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program — developed by the U.S. Green Building Council — as well as the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), Energy Star, and Australia’s Green Star, to name just a few.


Many sustainable rating and certification systems bring together a variety of existing sustainable practices and support the development of new, innovative, integrated solutions to ongoing issues.

Each certification scheme has slightly different priorities and criteria, and proponents of certification maintain that the standards they uphold help raise the bar for sustainable construction overall.

根据the 2017 National Green Building Adoption Index, the overall number of buildings with LEED or Energy Star certification is increasing. In 2005, under 5 percent of all businesses were certified, but by the end of 2017 that had risen to almost 40 percent.

可持续建筑是在全球新绿色建筑和装修项目的前沿和中心。|Vladimir Vladimirov/iStock

Why is sustainable architecture important?

可持续建筑是在全球新绿色建筑和装修项目的前沿和中心。It has the potential to significantly benefit both the humans who occupy urban spaces and the surrounding environment.


截至2021年1月,我们还有九年来实现UN’s Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), designed to avoid the most catastrophic effects of global warming (think: rising seas, depleted fish populations, drought, and flooding).

UNEP说,如果该行业正在追踪其净零的目标 - 通过移除或消除的排放平衡 - 到2050年,建筑业的整个价值链(包括设计,建筑本身和运营)必须将其努力增加至少500%,这是一个巨大的事业。

什么是可持续建筑材料?|Federico rostagno / iStock


Building materials are just one of the key areas that require improvement. Modern green swaps might include high-tech sustainable concrete, such as the recyclable biocement produced by North Carolina’sBiomason., or recycled versions of traditional materials.

一些公司,如哥伦比亚波哥大的啄木鸟,正在结合回收的废物,如塑料和咖啡壳创造新的可持续建筑材料。荷兰人 ”Growing Pavillion“建筑物几乎完全使用菌丝体(蘑菇根结构),而英国公司Chip[s] Boardproduces building materials out of potato waste.

More surprisingly,wood— one of the oldest building materials in existence — could be a key part of modern sustainable construction. Buildings that incorporate wood produce fewer overall emissions throughout their lifecycle and help to store carbon within city environments.

Trading concrete for sustainable alternatives can reduce the negative impact of the construction sector. | Alvarez/iStock

What’s the problem with concrete?


尽管它是水后行星上最广泛使用的物质,但它也是最具破坏性的。大约9000万吨混凝土是在美国生产的每年(参考,即近250次重量of the Empire State Building).

Concrete is responsible for nearly 10 percent of the entire world’s industrial water use, resulting in严重的干旱. If the cement industry were a nation, it would be the third largest carbon dioxide emitter after China and the U.S. with 2.8 billion tons per year (though it’s worth noting that China uses at least 50 percent of the world’s concrete).

When used in cities, it exacerbates inner-city heating and is one of the key contributors toUrban Heat Island Effect. This in turn compounds the effects of global warming, causing even more intense heat waves in built-up areas, and worsening cumulative warming significantly.

由于其巨大的足迹,可持续替代品的交易混凝土 - 或回收现有材料和结构 - 将显着降低建筑业的负面影响。

Sustainable architecture represents a key opportunity to revolutionize zero carbon building. | Hilda Weges/iStock


Sustainable architecture represents a key opportunity to revolutionize zero carbon building by standardizing highly energy efficient structures, renewable energy, and even carbon offsetting, where required. But it also supports housing, employment, and various other benefits.

Energy efficiency

Sustainable design and construction will typically include some combination of renewable energy sources, energy-efficient lighting and heating, good use of natural light, waste reduction, water efficiency, and effective insulation.



In addition to its potential as a mitigator of climate change, the industry also represents an opportunity to support green economic growth through employment opportunities, as well as creating more sustainable and high-quality housing. Both of which are in high demand and low supply, particularly in美国. and英国.


建筑业还提供住房,流动性,水和卫生基础设施。根据UNEP, it also “represents the physical context for social interactions as well as economic development at the micro-level.”







丹麦的哥本希尔将一个“城市山脉”结合了一个超现代废物到能量厂。建筑师设计了上面的娱乐区,享受滑雪,滑雪板,跑步,徒步旅行等体育场所,甚至攀登 - 哥本希尔均在距离地面85米处,距离世界上最高的攀岩墙有85米。

The plant below produces “environmentally friendly energy” by burning waste and capturing the emissions, producing enough electricity to completely power 30,000 households and an additional 72,000 central heating systems in the city of Copenhagen.

Bahrain World Trade Center

The Bahrain World Trade Center features two 50-story commercial office towers shaped much like the sails of Dhow, two-masted Arab sailing vessels. This shape helps to funnel wind into three turbines positioned on sky bridges between the towers, supplying the trade center with 11 to 15 percent of its required energy. Reflective pools below help keep the towers cool through evaporation, despite the arid desert climate.


Melbourne’s Pixel Building Project boasts a wide array of sustainable design features and became Australia’s first carbon-neutral office block on opening in 2010.



Seattle’s Bullitt Center, known as “the greenest commercial building in the world,” is also certified as aLiving Building, meaning it is a resilient, self-sufficient structure that can provide energy security for decades.

The Bullitt Center produces nearly 30 percent more energy than it requires via solar panels, making it one of the largest net-positive energy buildings worldwide. Other features include a six-story onsite composting toilet system and rainwater-to-potable water processing.

It officially opened on Earth Day 2013 and has an unprecedented 250-year lifespan (for reference, commercial buildings’ finances typically assume a 40-year lifespan). As part of its construction, the project successfully avoided any materials containingRed List化学品。

One Central Park

Sydney, Australia’s One Central Park features two residential towers positioned at the top of a five-story shopping centre. It requires 25 percent less energy than a typical building of the same size and uses enormous, cantilevered mirrors to light the lower levels.

Perhaps most strikingly, it features a 1,000 square-meter green wall — designed by botanist Patrick Blanc, the self-proclaimed inventor of the垂直花园— incorporating 250 different species of Australian flowers and plants, which help regulate the building’s temperature.


可持续设计不仅限于上述新建筑,并使现有结构更节能是达到该部门的必要部分 - 以及世界排放目标。新住房仅为每年的总房库存增加一个百分点,其中只有一小部分是架构师设计的。

“What we have now is the majority of housing stock we will have in 2050 when we have legal national targets to reduce fossil fuel carbon emissions to near zero,”Asif Din, an ecological architect and sustainability director at the firm Perkins & Will, told LIVEKINDLY.

There are currently more than 648,114 empty residential and commercial buildings in the UK and 17 million vacant homes in the U.S. Up to90 percent美国人也生活在绝缘的房屋内,而1900多万英国房屋迫切需要额外的绝缘。

根据DIN,施工阶段的额外费用可以节省大量的能量。在利用空建筑物的同时,可以提出建筑业环境影响和慢性的解决方案affordable housing shortagesfaced by the UK and many parts of the U.S.


“We have to think of buildings as material depots,”said Dutch architect Thomas Rau, speaking to守护者.“Waste is simply material without an identity.”