Sustainable architecture has been a hot topic ever since we humans have experienced the tangible effects of climate change.

We architects have an important role to play for our environment.

In this post, we will uncover the various aspects of sustainable architecture and how you can start to integrate these ideas into your project.

What is sustainable architecture?

Sustainable architecture can be described as an ecological design.
There are numerous ways in which we can design our buildings to be more eco-friendly. Sustainability has introduced a new pattern to the architecture practice in order to provide more comfort for present and future generations.

Pillars of Sustainability

There are 3 pillars of sustainabile development:
Economic, Social and Environmental.

[Image Source - Sustainable Cities Index 2016]
Three Pillars of Sustainability [Image Source - Sustainable Cities Index 2016]


The economic pillar or ‘profit pillar’ is one that most businesses are familiar with.
Every fit out needs to be economically viable, as a business it’s difficult to focus on the environmental or social aspects if the financial costs are unsustainable.
Some economic design choices to consider in a fit out include:

  •   The upfront costs of materials vs. the long-term costs of maintenance
  •  Sustainable material choice vs. the lifespan of these materials
  •   Design choice vs. actual and perceived value


The social pillar of sustainable development is a focus on ‘people’.
Sustainable businesses have the support of their employees, customers, stakeholders and the community in which they operate.


The environmental pillar of sustainable development is usually known as the ‘planet’ pillar and refers to reducing our impact on the environment to preserve it for future generations.

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The Impact of Sustainable Design  

[Image Source -]
Sustainable Design [Image Source -]

Sustainable design ensures minimized negative impact on the environment by reducing the use of synthetic materials such as plastic, molded fiber, and resin.

We implement many features such as heating, air-conditioning, ventilation and lighting, which are not necessarily eco-friendly.

Principle of sustainable design are: form, function and usability and cost effective solutions.

Sustainable Architecture Tips

Natural Lighting

Sunroofs in areas of low light is an energy-saving option.

Natural Lighting Image source -

Efficient Lights

LED lights are low on power consumption and can save on the electricity bill.

Efficient Lighting (Image source -

Minimising Carbon Footprint

The larger your room, the more heating, cooling, lighting, it needs. That’s why designing rooms that are of a comfortable size is a part of environmental consciousness.

Embodied Carbon (Image source - Skanska USA)

Solar Panels

Solar energy can supplement some of the energy requirement of the building.

Solar Panels on Facade (Image source -


Buildings that are well-insulated use less energy for heating and cooling.

Insluation (Image source - Designing Building Wiki)

Adding more Greenery

Buildings in warm locations should consider making flat roofs with terrace gardens. Planting trees or shrubs on the roof can help keep the building cool and reduce expenditure on cooling.

(Image source -

Recycled Materials

Recycled materials can be used for various parts of the building
Examples of used materials:

  • Straw bale
  • Rammed earth
  • Barn wood
  • Newspaper wood
  • Recycled glass
  • Pasphalt
  • Cork panels
  • Denim
  • Recycled plastic
(Image source - Over NewspaperWood - Vij5)

Types of Natural Building Materials


Adobe is sun-dried bricks which are made of mud.

Adobe House Sustainable Architecture
(Image source - Wikimedia Commons/Vmenkov)


Cob is also made up of mud and water with the additives of straw and clay.

House made of cob. (Image source - Flickr/graphx311)


Bamboo has excellent compressive strength and low weight.

Bamboo in Architecture | Green School
Bamboo Hut (Image source -

Straw Bale

The non-edible part of grains, rice, oats etc. are used for construction.

Straw Bale. (Image source: Madeen Architecture & Construction Durango)


Cordwood construction or the more famously “firewood” construction is the one in which small roundly cut pieces of wood are used as basic masonry units. Mud or cement plaster is required to give the finishing.

House constructed with Cordwood. (Image source - owFotografik Boise)


The natural masonry includes the stones and the bricks which have been used from prehistoric time

(Image source - Flickr/Shihmel Barger)

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