The Architect’s Role in Sustainable Design (and How to Use Technology & Innovation to Advance Our Green Agenda) #ilmaBlog #green #design #architecturePosted: November 27, 2018
In the design and construction field, there are two major categories of resources: renewable and non-renewable. As opposed to non-renewable resources, which are depleted with their constant use, renewable resources are not. If not managed properly Non-renewable resources might become non-existent when the rate at which they are used is much higher than the rate at which they are replaced. Renewable resources include water, geothermal energy and wind energy. Non-renewable resources include coal, natural gas and oil. The demand for new construction is on the rise as the world’s population increases and the demand for newer, more efficient modern buildings also increase.
Because buildings account for so much energy to build and maintain, architects and designers have become very conscious about our role in minimizing our environmental footprint when we design buildings. The American Institute of Architects, the largest organization of architects world-wide has a committee called the Committee on the Environment (COTE), which works to advance, disseminate, and advocate—to the profession, the building industry, the academy, and the public—design practices that integrate built and natural systems and enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment. COTE serves as the community and voice on behalf of AIA architects regarding sustainable design and building science and performance.
In green construction processes, there is an emphasis on the use of renewable resources. In many cases, this natural source becomes depleted much faster than it is able to replenish itself, therefore, it has become important that buildings make use of alternative water sources for heating, hot water and sewerage disposal throughout their life cycles, to reduce use and conserve water supplies.
Architects and designers specify rapidly renewable materials are those that regenerate more quickly than their level of demand. Our goal is to reduce the use and depletion of finite raw materials and long-cycle renewable materials by replacing them with rapidly renewable ones. Some commonly specified rapidly renewable materials include cork, bamboo, cotton batt insulation, linoleum flooring, sunflower seed board panels, wheat-board cabinetry, wool carpeting, cork flooring, bio-based paints, geotextile fabrics such as coir and jute, soy-based insulation and form-release agent and straw bales. Some green building materials products are made of a merger of rapidly renewable materials and recycled content such as newsprint, cotton, soy-based materials, seed husks, etc.
Check out this ILMA article about “Materiality and Green Architecture: The Effect of Building Materials on Sustainability and Design” for more information on this topic.
Responsibility of Architects
Architects and designers who align with AIA’s COTE objectives, (1) recognize the value of their role in environmental leadership to advance the importance of sustainable design to the general public while incorporating sustainable design into their daily practice, (2) influence the direction of architectural education to place more emphasis on ecological literacy, sustainable design and building science, (3) communicate the AIA’s environmental and energy-related concerns to the public and private sectors and influence the decisions of the public, professionals, clients, and public officials on the impact of their environmental and energy-related decisions, (4) educate other architects on regulatory, performance, technical and building science issues and how those issues influence architecture, (5) educate the architectural profession on programming, designing, and managing building performance, (6) investigate and disseminate information regarding building performance best practices, criteria, measurement methods, planning tools, occupant-comfort, heat/air/moisture interfaces between the interior and exterior of buildings, (7) promote a more integrated practice in order to achieve environmentally and economically efficient buildings. One of the tools we will plan to promote to achieve this integration is Building Information Technology (BIM).
The Role of Technology & Innovation – A Case Study (“The Edge”)
PLP Architecture and the Developer OVG Real Estate, built “The Edge” is a 430,556 SF (40,000m²) office building in the Zuidas business district in Amsterdam. It was designed for the global financial firm and main tenant, Deloitte. The project aimed to consolidate Deloitte’s employees from multiple buildings throughout the city into a single environment, and to create a ‘smart building’ to act as a catalyst for Deloitte’s transition into the digital age.
They key features of this building include the following innovations which address the environmental impact of building such a large edifice:
- Each facade is uniquely detailed according to its orientation and purpose.
- Load bearing walls to the south, east and west have smaller openings to provide thermal mass and shading, and solid openable panels for ventilation.
- Louvers on the south facades are designed according to sun angles and provide additional shading for the office spaces, reducing solar heat gain.
- Solar panels on the south facade provide enough sustainable electricity to power all smartphones, laptops and electric cars.
- The North facades are highly transparent and use thicker glass to dampen noise from the motorway.
- The Atrium façade is totally transparent, allowing views out over the dyke, and steady north light in.
- The building’s Ethernet-powered LED lighting system is integrated with 30,000 sensors to continuously measure occupancy, movement, lighting levels, humidity and temperature, allowing it to automatically adjust energy use.
- 65,000 SF of solar panels are located on the facades and roof, and remotely on the roofs of buildings of the University of Amsterdam – thereby making use of neighborhood level energy sourcing.
- The atrium acts as a buffer between the workspace and the external environment. Excess ventilation air from the offices is used again to air condition the atrium space. The air is then ventilated back out through the top of the atrium where it passes through a heat exchanger to make use of any warmth.
- Rain water is collected on the roof and used to flush toilets and irrigate the green terraces in the atrium and other garden areas surrounding the building.
- Two thermal energy wells reach down to an aquifer, allowing thermal energy differentials to be stored deep underground.
- In The Edge a new LED-lighting system has been co-developed with Philips. The Light over Ethernet (LoE) LED system is powered by Ethernet and 100% IP based. This makes the system (i.e. each luminaire individually) computer controllable, so that changes can be implemented quickly and easily without opening suspended ceilings. The luminaires are furthermore equipped with Philips’ ‘coded-light’ system allowing for a highly precise localization via smartphone down to 8 inches (20 cm) accuracy, much more precise than known WiFi or beacon systems.
- Around 6,000 of these luminaires were placed in The Edge with every second luminaire being equipped with an additional multi-sensor to detect movement, light, infrared and temperature.
- The Philips LoE LED system was used in all office spaces to reduce the energy requirement by around 50% compared to conventional TL-5 Lighting. Via the LoE system daily building use can be monitored. This data is fed to facility managers via the BMS allowing:
- Remote insight into the presence of people in the building (anonymous). Heating, cooling, fresh air and lighting are fully IoT (Internet of Things) integrated and BMS controlled per 200 sqft based on occupancy – with zero occupancy there is next-to-zero energy use.
- Predictions of occupancy at lunchtime based on real time historical data and traffic and weather information to avoid food-waste.
- Unused rooms to be skipped for cleaning.
- Managers to be alerted to lights that need replacing.
- Notification of printers needing paper.
- Every employee is connected to the building via an app on their smartphone. Using the app they can find parking spaces, free desks or other colleagues, report issues to the facilities team, or even navigate within the building.
- Employees can customize the temperature and light levels anywhere they choose to work in the building via the mobile app. The app remembers how they like their coffee, and tracks their energy use so they’re aware of it.
- The vast amount of data generated by the building’s digital systems and the mobile app on everything from energy use to working patterns, has huge potential for informing not only Deloitte’s own operations, but also our understanding of working environments as a whole. Discussions are currently ongoing regarding the future of this data and its use for research and knowledge transfer.
- The green space that separates the building from the nearby motorway acts as an ecological corridor, allowing animals and insects cross the site safely.
Because buildings account for nearly 40 percent of global energy consumption, architects and designers have been working to impact the built environment in a positive way. Although not every project can be as green as The Edge, by selecting materials that are renewable while reducing energy are two big contributions we can make to help ease the increasing demand for construction.
Technology can play a big part in our role to design more sustainable buildings through the use of building information modeling, energy management software, building management software, online sustainability calculators, energy modeling software, new lighting innovations, new techniques to capture and deliver energy and clean water while reducing waste, and mobile applications utilizing IoT.
- COTE https://network.aia.org/committeeontheenvironment/home/new-item2
- The Edge https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-the-edge-the-worlds-greenest-building
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Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center
The nickname for the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center is the Grass Building, and it perfectly captures its spirit. It’s a structure so thoughtfully designed it’s almost as energy-efficient and low impact as the greenery that surrounds it.
The Maryland building is part of an educational farm on the Potomac River Watershed that the Alice Ferguson Foundation used to teach people about the natural world. This new building—which became the 13th in the world to receive full Living Building Challenge certification in June 2017—is an educational facility designed to blur the lines between indoors and out, while still providing shelter as needed. “Part of the intent of the building is to be in the landscape and still have a bathroom to use,” says Scott Kelly, principal-in-charge at Re:Vision, a Philadelphia-based architecture and design studio.
Brock Environmental Center
Drawing thousands of students, the Brock Environmental Center is a regional hub for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, supporting its education and wetlands restoration initiatives. A connection to nature defines the building’s siting, which provides sweeping views of the marsh and also anticipates sea-level rise and storm surges with its raised design. Parts were sourced from salvage: Its maple floors once belonged to a local gymnasium while school bleachers, complete with graffiti, were used for interior wood trim. The center was recognized for its positive footprint: It has composting toilets, captures and treats rainfall for use as drinking water, and produces 80 percent more energy than it uses, selling the excess to the grid.
Discovery Elementary School
Students have three distinct, age-appropriate playgrounds—with natural elements such as rocks and fallen trees—at Arlington, Virginia’s Discovery Elementary School. The name honors astronaut John Glenn, who returned to space on the Discovery shuttle and once lived in the neighborhood. Exploration is a theme at the school, whose interior focuses on forests, oceans, atmosphere, and the solar system. The largest zero-energy school in the country, it offers “hands-on learning around energy efficiency and generation,” jurors noted. The school maximizes natural light and provides views to the outside in all classrooms.
Bristol Community College
A laboratory is an energy-intensive enterprise, with specialized lighting and ventilation needs. That’s why jurors praised the airy health and science building at Bristol Community College, in Fall River, Massachusetts, for its net-zero energy achievement, “a difficult feat,” they noted, “in a cold climate like New England’s.” The move saves $103,000 in annual operating costs and allows the college, which offers a suite of courses in sustainability and energy, to practice what it teaches. Part of a holistic campus redesign, the new building’s location increases the density—and thus walkability—of campus for students.
Central Energy Facility
Orange and red pipes flaunt their role in “heat recovery” at Stanford University’s Central Energy Facility. The center for powering the California campus—more than a thousand buildings—the facility was transformed from an aging gas-fired plant to one fueled mostly by an off-site solar farm, fulfilling a goal of carbon neutrality and reducing energy use by a third. With large health care and research buildings, the campus needs as much heating as cooling; now a unique recovery system taps heat created in cooling processes to supply 93 percent of the heating and hot water required for campus buildings. The plant reduces Stanford emissions by 68 percent and potable water usage by 18 percent, potentially saving millions of dollars and one of the state’s scarce resources.
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
Like other buildings in Singapore, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital incorporates parks, green roofs, and vertical plantings throughout its campus. But the city-state’s hospitals haven’t traditionally offered direct access to fresh air, light, and outdoor views. This hospital marks a dramatic change, optimizing each for patients. About 70 percent of the facility is naturally ventilated and cooled by fans, cross-ventilation, and exterior shading, saving on precious water resources. The building uses 38 percent less energy than a typical hospital in the area.
Eden Hall Farm, Chatham University
After receiving the donation of 388-acre Eden Hall Farm, 20 miles north, Pittsburgh’s Chatham University created a satellite campus centered around a sustainable living experiment. The university views the landscape—an agricultural area adjacent to an urban center—as critical to supporting cities of the future. The original buildings are complemented by new facilities for 250 residential students (and eventually 1,200), including a dormitory, greenhouse, dining commons, and classrooms. Students get hands-on experience in renewable energy systems—the campus generates more than it uses—sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, waste treatment, and water management. Now home to the Falk School of Sustainability, the farm is producing the next generation of environmental stewards, who follow in the footsteps of alum Rachel Carson.
Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University
At George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, located in the nation’s capital, design embodies well-being. Built around an atrium that admits light and air, the structure encourages physical activity with a staircase that spans its eight levels. A green roof reduces storm runoff; rainwater is collected and stored for plumbing, resulting in a 41 percent reduction in toilet fixtures’ water use. Limestone panels (left) were salvaged from the previous building on the site. Materials used throughout the building contain recycled content.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Inouye Regional Center
Located at the heart of Pearl Harbor, on Oahu’s Ford Island, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Inouye Regional Center repurposed two airplane hangars—which narrowly escaped destruction in the 1941 attack—linking them with a new steel and glass building (right). The research and office facility for 800 employees was raised to guard it from rising sea levels. Given the size of the hangars, daylight illuminated only a small fraction of the space, so specially crafted lanterns reflect sunlight further into their interiors. Necessity required invention: Due to anti-terrorism regulations, no operable windows were allowed in the space. Through a passive downdraft system that taps prevailing sea breezes, the building is completely naturally ventilated. The adjacent waterfront was returned to a more natural state with native vegetation.
R.W. Kern Center
Serving as the gateway to Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, the multipurpose R.W. Kern Center holds classrooms, offices, a café, and gallery space—and is the place where prospective students are introduced to campus. The school converted what was once an oval driveway into a wildflower meadow, now encouraging a pedestrian approach (seen above). The center is self-sustaining, generating its own energy through a rooftop solar array, harvesting its water from rainfall, and processing its own waste. Its gray water treatment system is in a pilot program for the state, and may pave the way for others.
Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage & Salt Shed
Two buildings belonging to New York City’s sanitation department redefine municipal architecture. Resembling a grain of salt, the cubist form of the Spring Street Salt Shed holds 5,000 tons for clearing icy streets. The Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage (background), whose floors are color-coded for each of the three districts, is home to 150 vehicles, wash and repair facilities, and space for 250 workers. The garage is wrapped in 2,600 aluminum “fins,” shading devices that pivot with the sun’s rays, reducing heat gain and glare through the glazed walls while still allowing views to the outside. Municipal steam heats and cools the building, so no fuels are burned. A 1.5-acre green roof reduces heat-island effect and filters rainwater. A condensate by-product of the steam is also captured, and, along with the rainwater, used for toilets and the truck wash. Combined with low-flow fixtures, the process reduced water consumption by 77 percent.
Starbucks Hillsboro, Oregon
Starbucks has been a leader in the development and implementation of a scalable green building program for over a decade .Starbucks joined the U.S. Green Building Council® (USGBC) in 2001 and collaborated with them to develop the LEED® for Retail program, an effort to adapt LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to new construction and commercial interior strategies for retail businesses. In 2008,Starbucks challenged themselves to use LEED certification not just for flagship stores and larger buildings, but for all new, company-operated stores. Many people, even internally, were skeptical, especially with Starbucks growth across the globe. But by collaborating with USGBC and other like-minded organizations, we have been able to integrate green building design not only into new stores but also into our existing store portfolio. Starbucks has also succeeded in providing a practical certification option for retailers of all sizes.
The Edge, Deloitte
The Edge, located in Amsterdam, is a model of sustainability.is billed as the world’s most sustainable office building and has the certification to prove it. But, it’s more than that. The place is, well, fun. And interesting. And inviting. So much so that professionals are actually applying for employment with Deloitte Netherlands because they want to work in the building. That it has become a recruiting tool is a satisfying side effect of a project designed to both redefine efficiency and change the way people work. “We wanted to ensure that our building not only had the right sustainability credentials, but was also a real innovative and inspiring place for our employees,” says Deloitte Netherlands CEO Peter Bommel.
Frank Cunha III, AIA, is a licensed architect in 9 states and has been a registered architect since 2003. He has worked on a multitude of project types over the years and offers some tips to aspiring architects getting started working with clients on design projects.
1) Do Your Homework
Even before you start you should do your background research on project location, preexisting conditions. At the very least check on the site on google maps. You have the internet. No excuses!
2) Listen to the Client
Even if the client isn’t always right, they may have some great ideas on how to make the design better. Ultimately, the space you design is for their use and they should feel like part of the process. It is our jobs to guide them to make the best decisions. Base those decisions on the uniqueness of your particular client since their needs will be very specific to them.
3) Be On Time
Your punctuality reflects your attention to detail and defines who you are. If you want to be valued by the client, you in turn should be respectful of their time. Whether it is a meeting or project deadline be sure to manage the client’s expectations.
4) Always Under Promise, Always Over Deliver
Try to work with the client on mutually agreeable deliverables. Whenever possible try to give yourself a bit of breathing room and when the opportunity arises try to beat those expectations. This will built trust between you and the client.
5) Check-In With Client
Be sure to work in periodic check-in points for approvals to avoid getting to far in a design only to find out that there has been some major revisions and you spent time working on design details that will be modified or deleted. Build these milestones into your contract agreement and avoid difficult conversations about extra compensation later on.
Drink Lots of Coffee (Optional)
Please share other ideas you may have with us!
Many architects feel like their devotion to the practice of architecture is like worship of a secular religion.
Here’s a little fun with our secular religion…
The TEN Demandments of Architecture
by William J. Martin, Architect
- Thou shalt have no clients before thee…
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven 3D cadd images.
- Thou shalt not take thy name of thy clients or thy engineers in vain.
- Remember thy project deadline day, and keep it holy.
- Honor thy computer and thy coffee: that thy days may be long.
- Thou shalt not kill thy design critics…
- Thou shalt not commit building design insultery.
- Thou shalt not steel, unless wood or masonry doesn’t support thy design.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy building inspector official.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s contractors…
These are only the TEN Demandments, maybe you can think of a few more. Leave a comment and let us know !
Also Check Out These Great Posts:
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.
If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook
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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of my Twitter/Facebook friends, Giuseppe Longo of fashion + class & jet lag. The following is the pre-launch interview.
1) When did you get interested in fashion, culture, and lifestyle?
I don’t think there ever was a period in time when interest suddenly sparked for fashion, culture, and lifestyle. I feel that I’m continuing with what I grew up; parts of my life since childhood. Dad played Johann Strauss + Beethoven in the car, Mom has always had an impeccable eye for fashion & design. We traveled as a family. I just absorbed and learned from the best.
2) How has social media changed your life?
Interesting enough, it has changed my life. I started fashion + class & jet lag as a Twitter account and it just keeps growing. And I’m soon launching my novel online, which that too, touches on social media. I’ve met some very interesting people as well as made new friends. I’ve also traveled and done some exciting collaborations. Social media is a powerful tool. I get news much faster than traditional media- at the refreshing of a web page.
Sofia Loren, preferably to have coffee + a conversation. She’s a symbol of class and elegance.
5) What are 3 basic things everyone should know about fashion?
1| Skinny jeans are not for everyone
2| Tennis shoes and sweats are an eyesore and for sports, not everyday use
3| Confidence is the most important part of your wardrobe
6) How does art inform fashion and vice-versa.
It depends. This question can go in so many directions… Taking it as if art as a whole influences fashion, I believe yes. Perhaps a pattern on a wrought-iron gate will make a great print on a tie or a certain red from one of Botticelli’s paintings could transfer well onto a coat. Also, architecture from a building could transform and give a pair of heels character to really set it apart. So to that extent, art does inform fashion.
And looking at fashion and if it informs art, it is possible. A great example would be the late Alexander McQueen. His designs were artistic brilliance; he enthralled, engaged, and entertained the mind.
Article by David Cohn for Architecture Record
Architect: Aires Mateus & Associates
Photographs by: SG+FG
The Lisbon-based brothers Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus push their residential designs out of the realm of the ordinary toward the surreal and dreamlike. In one project, they arranged the living room furniture of a beach house on a floor of deep sand. In another, a renovated winery, they suspended the volumes of the bedrooms over the living space like geometric stalactites. And in this project for a young family outside the small city of Leiria, they created the perfect archetypal form of a house, straight out of a Monopoly game box or a fairy tale. An apparently solid volume wrapped completely in white plaster — pitched roof and all — sits on the green plinth of an extended lawn, sharply profiled under the Portuguese sun.
Manuel, who led the Lisbon-based design team on this project, explains that he developed the design around three considerations. First, the “not so nice” site encouraged him to create an inward-looking building. The house is located in the center of a hilltop settlement outside the city that, as is often the case in Portugal, mixes the unruly charm of its rural origins with a motley collection of modest new residential buildings. Second, a distant view of Leiria’s chief landmark, a medieval castle on a hilltop several kilometers to the west, provided an orientation for the central opening of the house, establishing a “magical connection” between them. And lastly, he felt that the scale of the project, with four bedrooms and 3,200 square feet, was too big for the site. So he used the grade change between the street and the garden to put a large part of the program underground. “Every space has its courtyard,” he points out. “If you’re in a bedroom, you have the privacy that a sunken court provides.” A garage and street-level entry open directly to the lower level, while a garden gate and stair bring visitors up to the lawn entrance.
The main event in the design is the three-story void above the central patio. This intriguing element “takes the form drawn by the light,” Manuel explains. By alternating glazed, floor-to-ceiling openings and solid walls around this void, the architect emphasized the sculptural quality of the cut, carefully shaping the negative space as it descends from the south-facing roof opening. On the main level, an outdoor deck made of saw-cut granite planks faces the view and overlooks a square opening to the patio on the lower level, which is adorned by a potted lemon tree.
In one of the design’s several quirks — places where the architects allow the logic of form to trump functional convenience — the deck is separated from the living area level by an uncomfortably large step, making a fluid link with indoor/outdoor living awkward. This is a consequence, it turns out, of the architects’ effort to hide the edge of the floor slab behind a floor-to-ceiling sheet of glass bridging the lower level of the void on its north side, a strategy that affects areas around the patio in a too-scrupulous respect for precision. In addition, the large size of the patio cuts into the living spaces. There is no room for armchairs or a coffee table around the long sofa, which looks out to the castle on one end and at a wall cabinet hiding the television on the other.
Manuel explains that the unconventional roof finish of painted plaster was made possible by modern waterproofing systems, and says it will require no more maintenance than the stucco-finished concrete walls — just periodic painting. For a “real problem,” he points to the unprotected courtyards cut out of the lawn, especially since the couple has a young child. He is planning to install a nearly invisible safety net over the openings. How about a glass balustrade or a hedge? “That would be horrible!” he replies.
The house is well crafted throughout, with elegant window frames of solid aluminum made in Switzerland, floors and stairs of local pine in wide strips up to 8 feet long, lacquered built-in closets and cabinets, and bathroom floors of Lioz, a rare Portuguese limestone. The client is building the architect’s custom-designed furniture as funds become available. A handsome dining table and the long sofa are in place, but for now the couple’s mattress rests on their bedroom floor.
The Aires Mateus brothers graduated from the Lisbon School of Architecture in the late 1980s, and apprenticed with Gonçalo Byrne. With its hidden, excavated spaces and labyrinthine plans, the Leiria house brings to mind the Casa Das Mudas Museum in Madeira by Paulo David, another Byrne disciple [RECORD, May 2007, page 192]. And in its mixture of archetype and sculptural form, it distills the spirit of Aldo Rossi’s evocative visions with a fine, minimalist precision.
Gross square footage: 3,200 sq. ft.
Date of construction: 2008 – 2010