Architects Need to Build Their Knowledge to Build a Sustainable Future

construction

Current popular building practices lack a nuanced approach to sustainability due to years of it being culturally ok to put future generations into ecological debt. Thankfully, things are starting to change and architects want to build a sustainable future, and fast. Prior to mass industrialization buildings were constructed using locally sourced materials, making them more sustainable with a relatively small carbon footprint. As globalization increased the techniques of using local materials were forgotten and now architects are calling for everybody in their field to share best practices around locally sourced material and techniques.

Architects are at the forefront of our drive to lessen the impact humans have on the environment. While the agenda has stayed relatively constant since I was at school, the sustainability goalposts have moved – and narrowed. A building designed as zero-carbon just half a decade ago would now be considered ‘operationally’ zero-carbon at best, whereas ‘whole-life carbon’ calculations now consider the building’s demolition and waste disposal. Our thinking, designs and architectural goals must evolve, but things are evolving at such a speed; how on earth are architects to keep up?

‘Renewable and sustainable technologies change very quickly, as does our understanding of sustainable outcomes, so it is important to try to keep on top of it,’ says Tate Harmer partner Jerry Tate. ‘We need to communicate to each other in our industry, sharing best practice and our experiences to help get to the right answers.’

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Join the No-Mow May Campaign

pollinator

Pollinators love the spring and they love your lawn….until you cut it. Spring time is when pollinators need a quick get up and go meal, which usually comes from those peppy plants popping through your lawn early in the season. You can help pollinators survive the spring by just being lazy and letting your grass grow. Yes, you can save the world by doing less.

Remember the best strategy for not mowing lawns is not to have one in the first place. Check out these lawn alternatives.

Conservation groups have been promoting the “No-Mow May” approach around the world.

Cormier said spring is a crucial time to help pollinators.

“Flowering plants in the spring, for example, can bloom and provide an early source of nectar for pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and beetles,” she said.

Cormier says allowing wildflowers and grasses to grow during this time will also help prevent pollutants and debris from travelling directly into freshwater ecosystems, and help with soil stabilization.

“We’re not asking for a lot of time. We’re asking for 4 weeks so hopefully maybe just take a break from mowing for a couple weeks, for the entire month just try it out. It’s a small commitment but maybe people will like it and I hope they do,” she said.

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Thanks to Kathryn!

Time to get Wild in Scotland

Forest

We keep kicking wildlife out of their homes, and it’s time to reverse that process. We need to invite wild animals back into the places they used o live, this is known as rewilding. The most celebrated rewilding effort was done in Yellowstone when wolves were reintroduced into the park, which led to a much healthier ecosystem. Now, there are places all around the world trying to return their parks and natural areas back to their pre-industrial prime. In Scotland they are looking to make rewilding a national effort.

He explains that they are urging all political parties to commit to five different measures to protect nature and boost the economy:

  • Commit to rewilding 30 per cent of public land.
  • Establish a community fund to support rewilding in towns and cities.
  • Backing the reintegration of keystone species such as rehoming beavers and reintroducing the Eurasian Lynx where there is local support.
  • Create a coastal zone where dredging and trawling are not permitted
  • Introduce a plan to control deer populations, allowing land to recover from overgrazing.

The Scottish public is behind the idea too. Last year the SWA commissioned a poll across Scotland which found widespread support for the principle of rewilding. More than three-quarters of people who expressed an opinion backed the concept, ten times as many as those who objected to it.

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Thanks to Craig!

Green Roofs: The Bigger the Better

Every post this week has been about roofs, we looked at white, blue, and soy roofs. Let’s not forget about the classic green roof.

The classic green roof is tried and true with hundreds, if not thousands, of proven efficacy. Green roofs retain water, cool buildings, and improve the planet. When it comes to green roofs a new study has revealed that the bigger the installation the greater the effects a green roof has.

•Intensive green roofs achieve the greatest air temperature and PET reduction in the low-rise buildings.
•Green roofs reduce outdoor air temperature and buildings’ cooling energy above buildings up to 30 m height.
•Green roofs strongly reduce buildings’ cooling energy demand in the extremely dense built-up areas.
•Intensive green roofs attain the best impact on outdoor air temperature and buildings’ cooling energy demand reduction.
•Economic aspect favors the extensive green roofs usage to reduce cooling energy in the buildings.

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Can’t Get a Green, Blue, or White Roof? Get a Soy Roof Instead

beans

Many of the eco-friendly roof options require upgrades to structures to support the extra weight. Building an blue, green, or even a white roof isn’t a solution for every existing building. For buildings with unsubstantial asphalt roofing what can we do? We can use soy! Shingles dry out when they degrade over time, currently oils are used to prolong the life of shingles. Instead of using nonrenewable oils a company has explored using soy based oils instead.

Organizers demonstrated Roof Maxx on Earth Day because it’s a green product made from 86 percent USDA biopreferred soybean oil. By restoring a roof instead of replacing it, the product also eases the strain on landfills. The EPA estimates about 13 million tons of asphalt shingles are discarded every year.

“If there’s an opportunity for recycling or sustainability, in my mind you should look into it,” Schafer said. “In the past, it was a lot more expensive sometimes… but as time goes on it’s more prevalent, it’s a little easier to do.”

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