Sustainable architecture – a manifesto

We see the process of construction as irrevocable. Materials used – so the general public believes – are a part of our buildings forever. In real life it is different, of course. On average, we use our houses no more than 25 years for their originally intended purpose. More than a third of the rubbish in our dumpsites comes from the construction industry. We need roughly 40% of the total energy expenditure for living in our buildings and emit 35% of the climate damaging CO2 in the process. Furthermore, we seal off and clutter up more and more vital agricultural areas – areas we should be using for our future food, resources and energy production. We really need to change our approach radically.

Architectural construction and form design will not be limited to and focused on the building alone, but actively influence the entire life cycle – from the origin and production of resources, over the construction and deconstruction of buildings, all the way to the reintegration of materials into the resource cycle. Responsible architecture must look beyond the mere building of houses. It has to dismiss the notion that all constructions are timeless, thereby facing the fact that they too are born and pass away. It is a flowing reality, a fundamental idea of the new paradigm of sustainable development.

Sustainable architecture starts with the selection of resources

  • favours renewable resources from a sustainable agriculture and forestry system
  • biogenic raw materials are the starting point for the development of numerous biodegradable resources
  • abstains from or minimises the use of raw materials with „heavy ecological baggage“
  • consciously reduces the CO2 emission during the entire life cycle
  • utilises recycled materials

S.A. adapts to the resources on location

  • minimising transport and guaranteeing resource efficient packaging
  • makes sure to close the cycle of materials as locally as possible

S.A. plans/designs resource efficient buildings, thereby securing energy efficiency

  • building envelopes should be designed to guarantee the best energy production level possible – acting as small power plants, which do not only produce energy for thermal services such as room conditioning and water cooling, but also supply energy for lights, feed information technology components and contribute to mobility needs
  • windproof facades, a good insulation, energy recycling systems, daylight focusing and other measures can minimise power demand and lead to a reduction of CO2 emissions

S.A. creates buildings with high usage flexibility

  • construction components such as the envelope, the static structure and the general infrastructure are designed to expand durability – intermediate walls, installations and surfaces should not obstruct the rapid changes of needs

S.A. favourably positions buildings on areas with low importance to agricultural and forestry systems, compensates for soil sealing with the creation of alternative spaces (such as vegetated roofs), builds on plots with an enhanced energy influx (facing south), constructs on plots that are already connected to local infrastructure, remains nature-related despite a high population density and guarantees both quality of life and individualisation options for inhabitants.

S.A. focuses on the efficient use of resources, makes use of the latest bionics findings to save materials, substitutes lengthy cabling with BUS or radio circuits, favours constructive component protection and avoids chemical component protection.

S.A. applies closed material circle (CMC) technologies

It incorporates the deconstruction of the building into the initial planning phase, thereby securing that all used resources are reintegrated into the cycle of materials – the public authorities are supplied with the deconstruction plans at the same time as the approval plans for the construction project. Sustainable architecture uses technical and biogenic materials in a manner that facilitates separation during the deconstruction process, uses as many homogeneous technical materials as possible and abstains from using composite materials to ensure an easy recycling process. It makes sure that all biogenic materials are biodegradable.

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