What I learned in Sustainable Architecture Week!
On the 11th -15th January 2021, I attended a virtual event about the various trends and best practices in sustainable architecture organized by UGreen and this event was the Sustainable Architecture Week. I discovered it because I stumbled upon an Instagram live by one of the organizers, Filipe Boni. He was talking about the event and the reason why it was being organized. I became interested because it was about sustainability!
The facilitators of the event were Filipe Boni, Sami Meira and Ticiana Wess, architects that are LEED Accredited Professionals. If you don’t know what this means, it is like one of the highest achievements (recognized globally) an architect can obtain, regarding green buildings and sustainability. Hence the name– Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
Sitting through the first day, I was thankful to learn about more ways to combat climate change as an architect. For me, it was a gratifying experience because I was right in the middle of designing for a client, a four-bedroom duplex which had a pent-house. I could immediately see where I wasn’t designing sustainably, and I mentally began to correct that. I even started to see how I could improve my current residence and make it more sustainable and comfortable.
The attendees were shown a road map that highlighted sustainable strategies to be used at different stages of construction. Some of the sustainable strategies I learned included achieving better energy efficiency for existing buildings using light shelves and lighter coloured wall paints. For new buildings, one can start by selecting an appropriate site and optimize the orientation of buildings to achieve the most suitable lighting, cooling and ventilation approach. One of the things I’m most grateful for, attending this event was being introduced to new software applications that aid better designs. The cool thing about this is the fact that I can integrate them with the applications I already use to simulate ways to achieve better energy efficiency in lighting and power usage.
What resonated with me the most about this event, was when Sami said that architects shouldn’t focus on designing more buildings and urbanizing ‘unused’ lands. We need them to stay that way and remain green to fix our planet. What architects and urban planners need to do now, is focus on finding solutions to the problems in existing buildings and cities, making urbanized locations more sustainable and comfortable so that people would not have to ‘run away’ to the countryside.
Sustainability in architecture to me is not something trendy that makes one outstanding in their field, or some perk to make one’s career more interesting, it means so much more! The fact that I got exposed to the concept of global warming at a pivotal point in my life made me passionate about wanting to do something about it (Story for another day).
As the week-long event came to a close, we were encouraged to communicate appropriately, the benefits of innovations aiming at achieving sustainability in buildings. Thus, architects are to ensure that sustainability strategies become more acceptable by translating designs into numbers and charts, presenting them in ways that can be understood by clients, AEC professionals and even professionals not in the building industry.
At some point during the event, it dawned on me that contrary to my previous opinion, to achieve sustainability in architecture does not mean that I have wait to meet LEED or BREAM level certification requirements. All I have to do is start somewhere. So, If you are wondering how you can practice sustainability strategies in your field of study? Why not start at the very beginning- educate yourself about it! :)