Environmental sustainability in building design is neither a fad nor a capricious social experiment of advanced industrial countries, but rather a serious global concern that has long-term impact on the lives of billions of people.
The primary goal of green building as an architectural and engineering practice is to help minimize the carbon footprint of builders and owners, thereby mitigating the impact of climate change particularly in highly populated urban areas.
Mitigating Climate Change Impact
Climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies are now evident in many architectural ideas and interior design concepts.
Many homeowners, private establishments and government offices are incorporating these sustainable innovations not only to lessen the detrimental effects of climate change but also to save costs in terms of maintenance and repair.
From using weatherproof architectural paints to tapping into renewable energy sources, sustainable ideas are being integrated in the construction of buildings and also included in large-scale urban planning. Some of these ideas are still in the conceptual stage such as the case of indoor “bubble” parks, but many are already considered practical and being implemented.
Implementing Sustainable Design
On a smaller scale, here are some sustainable ideas being implemented in architectural and interior design:
1. Using weather-resistant paints for the exterior
The finishing touches for both the interior and exterior of buildings include paints.
Paint is applied not only for purely aesthetic purposes but also for the practical purpose of protecting building structures from the elements. For instance, the presence of vehicle and factory emissions in highly urbanized cities oftentimes causes acid rain that could erode exterior masonry.
By using weatherproof architectural paints, buildings will not only look attractive but are also protected from withering.
The overall costs in maintenance and repair will also be significantly reduced because applying new paint will not have to be done as often. Cheaper, non-weather-resistant paints may require quarterly recoating compared to yearly periods (or even several-year periods) of recoating when using paints that are resilient to the ever-changing weather and seasons.
2. Applying brightly-colored paints on ceilings and interior walls
One way of saving electricity is to use brightly-colored paints for the interior.
The need for simultaneously switching on several lights can be minimized if brightly-colored paints are used. During mornings, some offices, classrooms and halls may not even need artificial lighting to be properly illuminated if natural light is well-distributed.
Meanwhile, in the evening, less artificial lighting will be necessary if the wall paint efficiently reflects the light. Some interior designs may also include the use of luminous paint that has the capacity to retain light even if the original light source is switched off.
Bright interior paint is particularly useful for old buildings that do not have proper natural illumination. Luminous paint can also prove to be very practical during power outages and building evacuations. Luminous paint can be applied on staircases and along hallways to provide momentary illumination in emergency cases when artificial light sources are few or not available.
3. Including green building materials
Illumination, ventilation and insulation are essential elements of a comfortable building. Achieving these in a sustainable way would require using green building materials that can either be retrofitted in old buildings or used as the main materials during construction.
Traditional industrial construction materials such as steel and cement are not environmentally sustainable. Although these materials cannot totally be eliminated in most construction projects, the use of these materials can at least be minimized.
For instance, instead of using cement, hempcrete can be used in some home construction projects. Hempcrete blocks are made from fibers of the hemp plant, making these materials lightweight. Transporting hempcrete blocks requires less fuel because they are not as heavy as concrete blocks. They are also excellent insulators.
Another sustainable construction material is wood. Unlike concrete and steel, lumber is renewable. It does not need to be mined from the earth but instead can be cultivated from tree farms.
4. Incorporating solar panels and electric wind turbines
Off-the-grid power source options are becoming less costly and practical as the technology improves. Owners of homes and office buildings can minimize their carbon footprints by either partially adopting renewable energy sources or totally switching to renewables.
Solar panels and wind turbines can be installed on top of homes and office buildings or even integrated as part of the exterior walls. The energy demand for buildings can be subsidized through renewables. The energy can also be stored in high-capacity batteries for later use during outages.
The Need for “Greener” Building
Research has proven time and again that rapid climate change is happening, and the consequences of irresponsible human activities can only worsen it.
Adopting sustainable building practices is one way to alleviate the Earth’s current state and, hopefully, to arrest the rapid onslaught of climate change worldwide.
Ralph El Eid is the Business Development Manager at COLORTEK - Wall & Floor Fashion. EQUIPAINT is the franchise owner of COLORTEK in Dubai (UAE) and Doha (Qatar); an international paints manufacturer specializing in the widest range of decorative paints and seamless concrete & resin flooring, with a unique showroom concept, and thus an ideal destination for homeowners, consultants, architects, interior designers and paint applicators.