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Architecture and Technology: The Essential Role of Sustainable Architecture

Introduction

Such concept as sustainable architecture is relative new; it emerged approximately two decades ago, yet, since that time it has achieved immense popularity. This approach is intended to address the environmental and economic problems, faced by modern community. In recent years it has become evident that people tend to consume too much energy and space and this is no longer permissible, especially considering the detrimental effects of our activities on nature as well as expensiveness of traditional design techniques. Overall, sustainable architecture heavily relies on the use of most up-to-date and eco-friendly technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, recycled building materials etc. This paper aims to discuss the impacts of technologies on architecture, the reasons for their implementation, and their significance.

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The major tasks of sustainable architecture

In order to better explain the role of technologies we should first show how contemporary understanding of building has evolved. Nowadays many scholars believe that a building is an open system which imports energy from environment, transforms it into some product, and exports this product back to environment (Williamson et al, 83). Judging from this idea, one can single out the major functions of sustainable architecture: 1) to reduce energy input through climate responsive design; 2) maximize the use the use of within the system and 3) lower waste production (Krishan, 410). These tasks cannot be possibly carried out unless people make full use of technological resources that they have. It should be borne in mind that the implementation of all these methods must not downgrade the quality of living conditions and retain aesthetic properties of the building. The thing is that architecture is both art and science and artistic element of the construction must not be overlooked by architects. So, one of the most thought-provoking questions is how to combine increased functionality, eco-friendliness, comfort and aesthetics. Very often, one of these components is neglected.

Overview of existing techniques

Generation of energy

On the whole, it is quite possible for us to argue that alternative means of energy production lay the foundations of green architecture. They include wind turbines, solar energy generators, solar water heating, photovoltaic cells, heat pumps and so forth (Gissen, 130). We can say that these technologies were developed and adopted in housing industry because at the end of the twentieth century, international community was extremely concerned with the dangers of greenhouse house effect, in particular, global warming. Furthermore, at that moment ecologists ascertained that residential buildings were and still remain one of the underlying causes of greenhouse effect (Gissen, 11). Therefore, scientists tried to make everything to alleviate the situation. With the help of these devices, the building becomes an autonomous unit, which is practically independent of traditional energy supply chain, because it produces energy on-site (McLennan, 149). Alternative means of energy production can be regarded as a significant turning point in the history of architecture because they transform both internal and external design. Moreover, they help people to reduce water and air pollution to a minimum. However, the most important benefit is the ability to cut expenses, needed for maintenance of the building.

Utilization of energy

Nonetheless, only generation of energy is not sufficient; it is vital to avoid losses within the system. This is why architects and designers need to pay special attention to insulation of the building, ventilation and heating. The key problem is that a large portion of energy is lost within building (Mehdi & Steven, 71). A great number of strategies can be employed in order to eliminate these losses, for instance, thermoplastic roofing, fluorescent lamps, and heating systems, which are able to respond to the changes in external environment. In this case, the use of context-aware applications plays one of the most important roles. Such programs are tailored specifically for the needs of housing industry: they regulate the intensity of illumination or heating according to the time of day or temperature outside (Roper &n Parminder, p 550). There are other strategies, which help to make the most effective use of energy: positioning of the building, green roofs, insulated windows etc. These examples indicate that in modern world people need to optimize every part of their activities in order to attain cost-effectiveness.

Minimization of waste production

Another important element of sustainable architecture is the reduction of wastes, which the residential building imports into environment. In many countries incineration or burning is viewed as the best way of disposal. All the more, incineration and recycling enable to convert wastes into energy (Krishan, 411). Additionally, grey water systems are widely adopted in order to minimize water pollution as well as costs, incurred by the inhabitants. These technologies were first developed in early nineties and over this period of time, they have become more sophisticated. Many of such devices can be installed on-site. They have created a new image for modern house, because it slightly resembles a non-waste plant which is self-sustainable, economic, and minimalistic. In addition they prove the idea that in contemporary society almost every kind of resource can and should be exploited.

The difficulties of implementation

Economic considerations

So, the above discussion outlines the obvious benefits of sustainable architecture. Yet, in the mean time we should not disregard the fact that it is rather difficult to apply and orchestrate all these technologies. One of the most serious obstacles is their initial price. It has to be acknowledged that some of them are rather expensive and unaffordable to many layers of the population. Besides, we should take into account the fact people frequently tend to underestimate their ROI (return on investment). This is one of the reasons why so the inhabitants of many buildings have to spend on considerable amounts of money on electricity, heating, gas and so forth, though they have a good opportunity to avoid them. Of course, this question mostly belongs to the domain of economics rather than architecture but architects also should take this factor into consideration while designing houses.

Structure of the building

Another issue, which also creates serious obstacles for architects and designers, is the structure of the building. The thing is that many houses might be constructed at the time when the concept of sustainable architecture was virtually non-existent (Krishan, 413). Therefore, many of modern technologies cannot be fully integrated, for instance, if we are speaking about HVAC1. Apart from that, under some circumstances the adoption of eco-friendly technologies can diminish the aesthetic value of the house, especially if it was built in Baroque or Neo-Classical style. So, many elements of modernity like solar panels are unacceptable. As it has been noted before, the designer has to attain equilibrium between functionality and art. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most daunting tasks, which cannot be always done.

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External environment of the building

While creating a design of the house, an architect has to remember that this building will not exist in isolation from other constructions. Most likely, it will be a part of the block or district. Very often, the adoption of sustainable technologies may not be possible as it would create problems for the inhabitants of other buildings. One of such cases is green roofs, which can block sunlight. Naturally, such occasions are not very widespread but architects should not forget about them. Furthermore, the integration of sustainable technologies may not be authorized due to the fact that it may disrupt the architectural unity of the street or district. The discussion of these issues shows that the implementation of new models can be hindered by external factors.

Integration of sustainable technologies

Preliminary Analysis

In order to put the principles of sustainable architecture into practice, the designer should view a building as a part of a larger system: street, district, city, and so forth. R&D 2 is an inseparable component of this process as it is necessary to examine ecological and physical environment of the house. Moreover, one has to study climatic peculiarities of a certain area or region. In particular, it is necessary to focus on such parameters as temperature, humidity, the level of precipitation etc. These data will allow to determine what type of technologies will be most suitable for this particular building. Secondly, it is of the crucial importance to identify the needs of people who will occupy it. The building can be residential, commercial, or industrial and the requirements of the inhabitants may vary.

Energy-resource flow3

Only after in-depth analysis of internal and external environment, it is possible to construct a model of energy-resource flow. At first, it is necessary to identify the processes or activities which will consume energy, for example, heating, cooling transportation4, lighting etc (Krishan, 407). The second step is to choose the technologies which will be most applicable to generate renewable energy: 1) photovoltaic cells, wind turbines, solar panes or other types of technologies. Naturally, solar energy is the resource which is always in abundance but in some cases, it will be more prudent to install wind turbines. The exact decision will depend on landscape. At the third stage of the design, an architect will have to work out strategies for reducing the emissions: sewage, garbage, CO2, wastes and etc (Krishan, 407). Again, we have to set stress on the idea that this is only a hypothetical construct and in real-life situations, decision-making is much more complicated. In the vast majority of cases, designers must closely collaborate with service and maintenance engineers, who can impose significant restrictions on the creativity of an architect. Under such scenario, they should not underestimate the study of evidence-based practices because similar buildings might have been constructed before, and previous solutions can be of great assistance for an architect. It is quite possible to say that he or she has to possess in-depth knowledge of economics, finance, and production processes so that he could best satisfy the demands of clients, community and environment. The philosophy of sustainability sets higher standards to the representatives of this profession. However, this seems to be the only possible solution in the community, striving to minimize the consumption of natural resources and avoid unnecessary expenses. Currently, the use of eco-friendly technologies can be viewed as an innovation yet, in the near future it will accepted as a norm.

Conclusion

In this paper, we have attempted to illustrate the connection between sustainable architecture and technologies. Despite the fact that the concept of sustainability is relative new, many people throughout the world have realized that this approach will soon grow into a standard. New technologies enable to generate and convert energy without increased consumption of natural resources. Modern buildings bear strong resemblance to the factories of non-waste production, which exist almost independently of external environment. Yet, it should be pointed out the implementation of these innovations is frequently hindered by various factors: 1) lack of financial resources 2) maladjustment of old buildings; 3) aesthetic considerations; 4) external environment, namely architectural style of the strict or city. This analysis have also demonstrated that the demands towards architects have drastically risen over recent years: as this people must be versed in economics, meteorology, finance, any many other areas which may appear to be unrelated to this field. The model of energy-resource flow presented in this paper can be employed as a helpful tool while selecting technologies for a specific house. Overall, sustainable architecture has ceased to be a whim of modernity; most probably, it is the next step in the development of this art and science.

Appendixes

energy resource flow ecological footprint model
(Krishan, p 410)

Works Cited

Gissen D. Big & green: toward sustainable architecture in the 21st century. Princeton Architectural Press, 2002.

Jalayerian Mehdi, and Eich Steven. “Blending Architecture And Renewable Energy. ” ASHRAE Journal 48.9 (2006): 70-75. ProQuest Education Journals, ProQuest.

Jenkins. AmyLou. “Building on the Land Ethic in the 21st Century” Earth Island Journal (2007), vol. 22, issue 2, pp 43-46.

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Krishan Arvind. “A new language of architecture: in quest for a sustainable future”. Environmental Management and Health, 2002, vol. 13, issue 4, pp 405-419.

McLennan. Jason. The philosophy of sustainable design: the future of architecture. Ecotone Publishing, 2004.

Roper Kathy & Juneja Parminder. “Valuation of AW: modeling the impacts of distractions”. Facilities (2007), vol. 25, issue 13, pp 536-553.

Williamson. Terry, Radford Anthony & Bennetts Helen. Understanding sustainable architecture. Taylor & Francis, 2003.

Footnotes

  1. Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
  2. Research and Development.
  3. Please, refer to the appendix to see visualized version of energy-resource flow.
  4. Transportation is a very energy-consuming process in commercial or industrial buildings.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 20). Architecture and Technology: The Essential Role of Sustainable Architecture. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/architecture-and-technology-the-essential-role-of-sustainable-architecture/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 20). Architecture and Technology: The Essential Role of Sustainable Architecture. https://studycorgi.com/architecture-and-technology-the-essential-role-of-sustainable-architecture/

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