Sustainable architecture

Print 11 Jun 2020

To develope an even more sustainable architecture is an issue that is increasingly one of the biggest topic in the industry. Driving the green way in the construction industry will make a big difference for our climate. The architect must be able to design buildings that are sustainable as well as beautiful.

According to The International Energy Agency  the construction industry is responsible for approximately 40 percent of global CO2 emissions through out the construction, heating, cooling and demolition of already existing buildings. Therefore, it is a positive trend that even more architects will develope and design climate-friendly buildings and that they find business opportunities by choosing this way as well.

- The climate challenge is an area that the industry will strongly focus on forward. Also, the use of resources regarding to all the clean resources used by the industry and waste management, where the building industry is responsible for a huge part. Says Per Olsson, Sustainability Manager, Link Arkitektur

The place for an architect in a Circular economy

The most eco friendly area is, as you know, what is never built. In a circular economy, resources are maximum utilized and materials and products are reused so that waste does not end up in landfill. In this way, raw material consumption, waste, emissions and energy consumption are minimized. In addition, environmental benefits have to do with, among other things, pollution, biodiversity and water consumption.

- Instead of building new projects, we can transform and renovate buildings, reuse products, and having an extensive use of recycled materials., says Olsson

New buildings as well as rehabilitation projects with re-used parts and recycled materials leads to a significant reduction of the CO2 footprint. In addition, waste volumes being reduced as well.

One of the basic knowledge for an architect today is to analyze and deal with functional and aesthetic issues. With increased awareness of energy efficiency and life cycles when it comes to material choices, the architect can transform his knowledge creatively and solve problems that are also related to sustainability. Conscious use of materials and resources, combined with good design, sums up the foundation of sustainable architecture.

- The advantage of working with circular economics is that you check around on many sustainability aspects. This is not just about the resource issue, but you can reduce the carbon footprint in the products and the building by working more circular and focusing on recycling when choosing materials and products, says Olsson. 

Aluminium pushing the boundaries for low carbon buildings

In the past, the focus on the environmental impact of buildings used to be just around the energy consumption. In a eco-focused construction, the total greenhouse gas emissions are taken into account throughout the life of the building. These accounts also include the emissions and carbon footprint of the building materials.

Aluminum has a life cycle that few other materials can match. The metal is corrosion resistant and can be recycled over and over again, requiring only a small part of the energy used to produce the primary metal. In fact, 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced is still in use.

Ulf Alfredsson, Business unit market Manager at Hydro Building Systems, has seen an increased demand for materials that can reduce the buildings environmental impact. Customers are increasingly demanding their materials on the basis of new regulations and classification programs.- We have launched Hydro CIRCAL 75R, an aluminum alloy based on at least 75% recycled aluminum, end of life aluminum. By using Hydro CIRCAL we can produce 1 kg of aluminum with an impact of 2.3 kg CO2, which is a significant reduction.

By using recycled, post-consumer scrap as raw material (aluminum that has reached the end of its life cycle) the material will be sent back to the product cycle. By using recycled aluminum, energy consumption is drastically reduced without compromising the quality of the product.

In a perspective of a circular economic, an overall assessment of the total climate footprint that a product or service causes throughout its life cycle is decisive. In this context, focus will also being added on the energy in connection with the extraction and production of building materials. There are building materials that have also taken care of this aspect in the production process.

- We also offer an alloy we call Hydro REDUXA 4.0. This is primary aluminum, which is based on energy-friendly production in addition that all the production energy coming from water (hydropower), says Alfredsson.

Durable design

Per Olsson, Link Architecture believes that sustainability in architecture and buildings is about how we create an architectural quality in relation to function and design and find the balance between using the buildings and creating their positive effects, at the same time as we reducing the negative parts.

- For instance a school building needs daylight to get a good and healthy indoor environment.

BREEAM-certificated Horten Videregående school in Norway, is a good example of a building with sustainable function as well as a great design. They made an ambitious choice by going for an environmental classification system that integrates sustainable thinking at all levels. The indoor environment and light emission are taken into account with a large atrium fronted by a glass facade with aluminum profiles that meet the high certification requirements.

Today, there are over 300 registered BREEAM projects in Norway and the tool and method is used by even more. Olsson says that it is important to work with the manufacturers, both to ensure that the eco classified products are available as well as the product development combines architectural and environmental considerations.

-  It is important for suppliers to produce products that support us to both create good architectural quality as well as ensuring that these products deliver a minimum impact on the environment in terms of climate impact, resources and biodiversity,says Olsson.  

By integrating sustainability as a main part of the project, it will contribute to new, architectural solutions. Sustainable architecture involves cost-effective construction, with the least possible greenhouse gas emissions seen in the entire life cycle, buildings that provide good health, where people feels comfortable and where they will achieve a good productivity.

- We are committed to a holistic approach to sustainability as well as focus on social sustainability in the products and buildings that we create. This to ensure that we carry a minimum impact on the environment and the planet, says Olsson.

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