Building the solution

January 1, 1

How eco-friendly buildings can be part of a sustainable world.

Untapped potential

Worldwide, buildings consume too many resources and produce too much waste. They use 25 percent of the world’s water and 40 percent of its resources, while creating one-third of all waste and 40 percent of global carbon emissions. Seen through the prism of these statistics, they’re environmentally unsustainable.

But buildings also have huge untapped potential to become a central part of the solution to our urgent sustainability challenges. Eco-friendly designs can combat climate change while improving our health, wellbeing and productivity.

To achieve this, it’s important to take a comprehensive approach to planning, design and construction that looks at every facet of sustainability. Focusing on just one approach can have a negative effect on the building’s overall performance, which is why standards developed by ISO (International Standardisation Organisation) and CEN (European Committee for Standardization) now make it possible to measure sustainability over a building’s entire lifecycle. These standards go beyond environmental performance to include how buildings contribute to health, safety and wellbeing.

Creating a eco-friendly design

The key step to eco-friendly design is to reduce the amount of energy a building needs. Typically, 80 percent of its energy use results from heating, cooling, hot water and lighting, while the remaining 20 percent is generated by construction materials, transport and demolition. So, while low-energy design is essential, it’s also important to design more comprehensively and consider how the building and its materials can be recycled and reused at the end of their life. The design and materials also have a bearing on other important aspects of sustainability such as thermal comfort, acoustic performance and fire safety.

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