What is a sustainable building?

There are many definitions for this, it’s an open concept with a varied response.

My definition is, it’s a building that works in harmony with its environment to create a building that best serves its purpose. I know it's general and a bit vague so I will break it down.

When a building works in harmony with its environment, its energy requirements for performance is lowered, which includes the correct level of solar gains and adequate shading to make sure the natural gains don’t require correction by mechanical means.

Added to this is consideration of the manufacture of the building, considering materials, their production process, and ability to be recycled, repurposed, or returned to a natural state at the end of their lifetime.

A building’s purpose is to provide shelter and protection to its occupants in its most basic form and to be affordable and desirable in the financial form. However, it’s important to provide a comfortable healthy indoor environment that supports the health and activities of its occupants.

So, what does a comfortable healthy indoor environment look like?

Considerations that were discussed by a group of us on the Passive House Course included: lower energy bills, blower tests and airtightness, moisture and temperature control, air quality and CO2 levels, thermal imagining, natural light levels, and humidity levels. All these elements are important to consider when designing for a healthy home.

As a recent discussion deepened during some Passive House Training, the thing that struck me was there is no one set formula for a healthy efficient home. A house built in Africa would have a completely different set of performance requirements than for a house in Cambridge. Similarly, as New Zealand has such a varied climate from the top of the North Island to the tip of the South Island, the performance requirement varies within our own country. And on a more micro-scale each site, with its own microclimate will affect that performance requirement in a more acute manner.

What I am excited about learning is how better to evaluate what I am designing and how it can best perform for each client, each site, and each budget. When we acknowledge the environment, we are creating and building in, we best understand how to maximize the performance we achieve with our Architecture. 

It's all about Architectural Design with People and Planet in mind. That’s the mission statement at Smart Living Spaces.

To book a complimentary call with Sharon to discuss your project click HERE

Architectural Design services for Waikato, Cambridge, Raglan, Hamilton, Morrinsville, Matamata and Te Awamutu.


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Offsite NZ Member    Licenced Building Practitioner    New Zealand Green Building Council
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