Sustainable Architecture: Definition, Examples, and Materials

Sustainable Architecture: Examples

The AIA (American Institute of Architects) each year names the top ten most sustainable buildings in the world. The award, now in its 17th year, aims to honor sustainable architecture that combines design, technology and nature in the name of improving the quality of life for people and the world. Around the world there are countless examples of sustainable architecture worthy of merit.

  • Crystal, London, UK: This beautiful London building has achieved the highest BREEAM and LEED certification.-
  • One Angel Square, Manchester, UK: LED lights, rainwater harvesting facilities and recycling of generated waste.
  • One Bryant Park, New York, USA: called the greenest building because it was the first to receive the platinum level in LEED certification.
  • Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China: this 632-meter-tall skyscraper lights up all the surrounding air thanks to wind turbines placed on the roof.
  • Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou, China: wind turbines and solar panels enable this skyscraper to produce its own energy.
  • Bahrain World Trade Center, Manama, Bahrain: between the two sail buildings are two wind turbines that produce energy.
  • CIS Tower, Manchester, UK: built in 1962, this building is one of the tallest in the UK and has the largest solar facade in Europe.
  • Vanke Center, Shenzhen, China: a tsunami-proof building
Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China

Sustainable Architecture: Materials

The most important element is the energy effectiveness of sustainable architecture throughout its lifetime. To achieve it, architects use various techniques to reduce the building’s energy needs and to increase its capacity to capture or produce energy. So the goal is to optimize sustainable energy. Architects for this purpose use passive techniques or active techniques. For example, as a passive strategy there is thermal insulation of the building or the use of water energy.

Already during the design phase of the building, one must think about how to recycle or reuse materials. What materials should be used in sustainable architecture? Bamboo, clay, sheep’s wool, recycled denim, stones and rocks collected from “km 0” (i.e. from the very place where the building stands therefore local material). Here is the complete list of materials that can be used in sustainable architecture:

  • straw
  • cork
  • gypsum
  • bamboo
  • laminated wood
  • jute fiber
  • cellulose fiber
  • expanded clay
  • paints of natural origin
  • expanded lime

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