Sustainable design is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability.
McLennan, J. F. (2004), The Philosophy of Sustainable Design
The practice’s work is characterized by a strong devotion to the principles of sustainability. Environmental architecture adopts and applies the principles of sustainable design towards minimising the environmental footprint of buildings and manmade structures in general. These principles function as a design methodology which blends with standard architectural design. The rules applied in environmental architecture derive from fundamental and generative design factors, such as the appropriate orientation, geometry and massing of the building according to its use and its climatic environment.
Sustainable design combines both passive and active design strategies as well as hybrid systems:
Passive design strategies use ambient energy sources such as the sun and the wind for heating, cooling and ventilating spaces. Most of the techniques adopted by passive design strategies are part of an ancient body of knowledge that in the past has been successfully implemented in all the planet's climatic zones.
Active design strategies use manmade non-renewable energy sources in order to achieve thermal and visual comfort for the occupants. The systems used include forced-air HVAC systems, heat pumps, radiant panels or chilled beams, and electric lights.
Hybrid systems use mechanical means in order to enhance ambient energy sources and they include heat recovery, solar thermal heating and cooling, ground source heat pumps, etc.
Choice of materials is also a significant aspect of the design, being subject to both rational parameters such as climatic interaction, availability and cost and sensory parameters, such as texture, colour and reflectance. Furthermore, parameters related both with the materials' production (amount of embodied energy, sustainability of natural resources), and their disposal (recyclability, biodegradability) are major concerns within the scope of environmental design.
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