Sustainable Architecture: Definition, Examples, and Materials

More and more often in the construction world, we hear about sustainable architecture and green homes. The word sustainability is becoming increasingly important to designers and architects for both functional and formal reasons, but it is often more of a concept and a fad than a concrete realization. Environmental issues and ecological awareness are the topics of the moment, but also of the future. Let’s find out more about what is meant by sustainable architecture, what materials are used, and what examples we have in Italy and around the world.

Sustainable Architecture: definition

Sustainable architecture, as well as green building in general, aims to create sustainable buildings, that is, with low environmental impact, but focusing on energy efficiency and improving the comfort and health of the inhabitants. Building sustainably means on the one hand meeting the demands and expectations of clients, and on the other hand respecting the environment by harmoniously fitting the building into its context and reusing materials and resources.

The term sustainable building was first introduced in 1970 when there was the publication of the “Limits to Development” study in which the need to reduce CO2 emissions and energy expenditure and to protect the environment in the act of construction was first emphasized. But it was in 1991 that the World Conservation Union, UN Environment Program and World Wide Fund for Nature first defined the concept of sustainability as In addition to the principle of sustainability, sustainable architecture is based on three other essential principles:

  • the eco-balance
  • compatibility
  • well-being

According to the principle of eco-balance, one must always consider the environmental impact at each stage of the building’s life cycle, thus at different times and spaces. This means that the architect must consider the environmental impact of the building even beyond the lifetime of the building.

Then there is the principle of well-being, that is, sustainable architecture also aims to improve the psychophysical state of the inhabitants of the building being considered. So the architect should not consider the building as a creature unto itself, but as part of a whole, a whole whose other elements interact namely nature and the building’s inhabitants.

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