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Nowadays, people have extensive access to a number of innovative products, tools, and technologies in order to change their living conditions, improve their opportunities, and achieve a certain portion of success. At the same time, it is wrong to believe that all new things and achievements are always good and beneficial for people. Therefore, much attention is usually paid to the questions of quality and sustainability. Sustainability in architecture is a frequently discussed topic in terms of certain economic and environmental dimensions.
On the one hand, it could be defined as a philosophical approach that makes people think about the necessity to improve the quality or leave a significant contribution. On the other hand, it is a technological term that promotes the survival of the chosen field by means of removal something that is unnecessary. Anyway, sustainability in architecture is a considerable move people should be ready to take in order to discover and use the technologies that make the reduction of waste and appropriate water and energy consumption possible. This paper aims at investigating sustainable architecture, its essence, factors, and approaches and clarifying the importance of sustainability in architecture regarding the existing economic and environmental challenges.
In modern literature, it is possible to find a number of definitions for the term sustainable architecture, but the majority of them are connected with the idea that sustainability is the possibility to continue a certain behavior, style, or path regarding current conditions. Sayigh admits that sustainability is a kind of architectural essence that cannot be neglected because any good building or some other constructions should be naturally sustainable.
Unfortunately, there is no clear guide on how to achieve sustainability in architecture or find out the balance between what is appropriate, effective, and less harmful. Still, it is clear that sustainable architecture has much in common with environmental and economic changes and human interactions with nature.
Many famous architects and other stakeholders in this field admit that sustainable architecture should not be a matter of fashion but have to be a matter of quality within the frames of which it is possible to do the most with the least means. Therefore, when people want to comprehend the essence of sustainability, they take into consideration such factors as energy and waste consumption, the development of global warming and pollution, and the search of the alternatives that could help to solve the questions of solar and wind power, domestic waste, and the use of methane. Architects like to think that their activities aim at improving their lives and the lives of people around them.
Therefore, there are many constructions with the techniques that help to reduce energy needs and increase the possibilities to create its own energy. The best examples of such techniques include heating and ventilation systems, solar panels on roofs, and wind turbines in buildings.
Regarding the goals and essence of sustainable architecture, it is possible to say that architects want to investigate their possible contributions to the discussion of environmental challenges and changes they could offer. Today, people like the idea of sustainable environmental design. However, the fact that buildings have their own impact on the environment and continue contributing to such events as global warming and natural pollution cannot be ignored.
If even architects stay sustainable in their intentions to protect nature and reduce the harmful effects of buildings, they cannot be 100% confident that their activities are eco-friendly. At the same time, it is impossible to stop building to protect the environment. Therefore, the idea to create sustainable environmental designs is the best option among the alternatives people have at the moment.
In addition to the environmental challenges, sustainable architecture has to promote economic benefits and savings people could get. Economic considerations could easily question the effectiveness of sustainable architecture. Wealth is the main factor that defines if it is possible to invest in eco-friendly technologies or not. As a rule, developed countries are rich enough to do the environmental damage they promote less noticeable, and developing countries have to face dust, dirt, and other environmental concerns.
Economic changes could influence the priorities set by architects, investors, and owners of buildings. High economic ratings allow the development of sustainable and eco-friendly architecture. However, there is a question that occurs: if only certain countries could allow such type of architecture, are their attempts to protect the environment effective enough in comparison to the inabilities of other countries where sustainable architecture is not promoted. In other words, it could happen that economic challenges may prevent people from solving their environmental concerns to their full extent.
Finally, it is important to understand the connection between high-tech and low-tech approaches to architectural and urban sustainability and define what kind of approach could be used to create sustainable architecture. On the one hand, it is possible to believe that low-tech approaches are preferable due to their availability, affordability, and price policies. People want to believe that, sometimes, it is enough to have a simple house with a number of simple technologies that promote comfortable living and working.
On the other hand, people cannot neglect an option that they could live in a huge and technologically supported house with a number of techniques that could be used as a daily routine. It seems to be easy to work when some decisions are made automatically, and some corrections are improved by a program. Such achievements are possible with high-tech approaches.
However, the question remains to be the same: if it is sustainable to use such approaches in architecture or it is better to address some simple technologies and low-tech approaches and create powerful constructions. In my opinion, low-tech approaches should be chosen in this case because they help to underline the role of a human in a building process and deprive architecture of the solutions that could be made by machines because architecture is something that is created for people and by people. Any construction could have a simple view or not too complicated composition, but it remains sustainable and proves the achievement of a person.
In general, the question of sustainability in architecture is open for discussions. People are free to make their guesses and offer their alternatives to reduce the number of waste, avoid global warming effects, and protect the environment by means of sustainable architecture. Still, sustainable architecture becomes crucial for architects not only because of the possibility to earn money or develop their skills but also because of the chance to improve this world and prove that great things should not have a high price to stay priceless.
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Foster, Norman. “Architecture and Sustainability.” Foster + Partners. Web.
Hegger, Manfred. “Doing Things Right – On Efficiency and Sustainability.” In Energy Manual: Sustainable Architecture, ed. Matthias Fuchs, Manfred Hegger, Thomas Stark, & Martin Zeumer, 24-27. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008.
Sayigh, Ali. Sustainability, Energy and Architecture: Case Studies in Realizing Green Buildings. Waltham: Academic Press, 2013.