Skip to content

Sustainable architecture: going beyond ‘single use’ buildings

  • by JW

The built environment accounts for 40% of global carbon emissions. [Arch Daily]


Buildings have to get greener. But how?

Firstly is the idea of retrofitting buildings. This would not only stop older buildings from being trashed, but would cut down on the need to ‘build, build, build’. Something definitely to consider for the Sid Valley – and something considered in a piece for the Architects’ Journal, asking: Could a Grade III listing for buildings halt the UK’s tide of demolition?. Here’s a comment from a professional, which very helpfully summarises the article:

Will Arnold’s proposal for new Grade III listed status, a positive move away from demolition, and consideration for retrofit and re-use of old buildings first are all ways we can diminish the building sector’s overbearing carbon footprint. As Will points out there is much that is ‘exciting’ for our profession in this and in the challenge of regenerative design – and it’s not no to new build, just that what we design and build going forward needs to be better, more sustainable, and not ‘single use.’ I would certainly support the concept of further protection through a new designation such as Grade III, and I’m sure many others in the profession would do likewise.

Secondly is the idea of ‘regenerative architecture’, which is really catching the attention of the profession. But we also need to consider the limits of sustainable design – as covered in this piece in the Arch Daily:

A heavily cited fact within the architecture industry is that the built environment accounts for 40% of global carbon emissions. The concerning statistic puts immense responsibility on construction professionals. The idea of sustainability in architecture urgently emerged as a way of bandaging environmental damage. A wide range of sustainability practices aims no higher than making buildings “less bad”, serving as inadequate measures for current and future architecture. The problem with sustainable architecture is that it stops with ‘sustaining’.

In order to maintain the current state of the environment, the architecture community has been working towards greener means of production. Conventionally, a green building employs active or passive features as a tool for reduction and conservation. Most sustainable designs view buildings as a vessel of their own rather than integrated parts of their ecosystem. With the planet’s current needs, this approach is not enough. It is not enough to sustain the natural environment, but also restore its processes...

It all sounds very Solar Punk – aka pragmatic utopia – to be found on the Sidmouth Solarpunk pages:

This is from another great piece from the Arch Daily – which takes us from early 20th century, modernists, futurists, and constructivists who saw themselves as innovative pioneers with a mission to create a new, and better civilization… to answering the question of “what will be the future of architecture?“, where architects are relying on the intelligence of materials, such as regenerative bio-concrete, carbon concrete, hydro-ceramics, and self-cleaning materials…

Very green and very utopian – and a pragmatic vision for Port Royal’s redevelopment?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is VCA_-_SOPREMA_-_PICTURE_-_004.jpg

Pragmatic Utopia: How Reality Finally Caught Up with Fiction in BIG’s Latest Monograph | ArchDaily