7 Ways Architects Can Be More Sustainable With Almost Zero Effort

Sustainable Architects
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The Importance Of Sustainable Architects

Architecture isn’t just about creating beautiful structures. It’s a profession with a profound impact on our environment. That’s why, as sustainable architects, we hold a critical role.

Our creations account for nearly 40% of global energy usage. It’s a stark reality, but one that we can change.

We’re in the driving seat to usher in a new era of green architecture. Let’s create spaces that nurture, not deplete, our planet.

The Role of Architects in Sustainability

Being an architect isn’t just about defining skylines; it’s about shaping the world. And in that world, sustainability is more than a buzzword—it’s a responsibility.

Yes, we’ve been discussing energy-efficient buildings and LEED certifications. But we’re only scratching the surface. There’s so much more that we, as architects, can do.

It’s time to acknowledge our industry’s significant environmental footprint. The buildings we design contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The materials we use create construction waste.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. With our design prowess, we can minimise these impacts. We can create buildings that not only stand tall but also stand green.

We can champion renewable energy sources, incorporate eco-friendly materials, and promote efficient resource utilisation. All while designing beautiful, functional spaces.

Transitioning towards sustainable practices isn’t easy, nor is it quick. But the time to act is now. Let’s embrace our role as sustainable architects and design a better, greener future.

How Sustainability Is Bringing Architecture Back Down to Earth

7 Ways Architects Can Be More Sustainable

Ready to embrace a greener way of doing things? Here are seven easy strategies you can implement right now to make your architectural practice more sustainable.

1. Embrace Biophilic Design

Biophilic design isn’t just a trend – it’s a way of thinking. This philosophy prioritises the inherent human need for nature, integrating natural elements like sunlight, plant life, and water into your designs. It’s not just about aesthetics – it’s about sustainability.

So how do you make it happen? Incorporate more green spaces in your buildings. Harness natural light as much as possible. Use natural, sustainable materials in your designs. And, where you can, design forms that mirror the elegance of nature itself.

By adopting biophilic design, you’re not just improving the aesthetics and the well-being of building occupants. You’re making a meaningful contribution to reducing the environmental impact of the built environment.

2. Prioritise Energy Efficiency

As a sustainable architect, your mission should be to create buildings that aren’t just energy-efficient, but energy-positive. Imagine designing buildings that generate more energy than they consume – now that’s sustainability in action!

Start by utilising energy modelling software to optimise your design. Include renewable energy solutions, like solar panels, in your building projects. And take advantage of smart, energy-efficient technologies that are changing the face of the industry.

The result? You’ll drastically reduce energy consumption, lower your clients’ energy costs, and decrease reliance on the grid. That’s a win-win-win situation.

3. Implement Water Saving Measures

Water is a precious resource, and we have a duty to conserve it. As a sustainable architect, you can lead the charge on this front, implementing water-saving measures in all your projects.

Try incorporating rainwater harvesting systems in your building designs. Use low-flow fixtures that reduce water waste without compromising functionality. And consider water-efficient landscaping that’s not only beautiful but also kind to the planet.

By doing so, you’re contributing to a reduction in water consumption, lowering your clients’ water bills, and promoting the preservation of this vital resource.

4. Opt for Sustainable Building Materials

The choice of materials plays a significant role in the sustainability of a building project. As a sustainable architect, you should always opt for materials that have a low environmental impact.

Choose locally sourced materials that support the local economy and cut down on transportation emissions. Consider recycled or reclaimed materials that save valuable resources. And go for materials with low embodied energy – the total energy used in the production, transportation, and construction of a building material.

The benefits are clear – you’re reducing your carbon footprint, supporting local businesses, and reducing waste. Sustainability never looked so good!

5. Consider Lifecycle Assessment (LCA)

Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) provides a comprehensive understanding of a building’s environmental impact – from cradle to grave. It takes into account every stage – from material extraction to eventual demolition.

By using LCA tools during the design phase, you can make informed decisions that minimise environmental impact. You’ll see where your designs can be improved, and how best to implement those improvements.

The result? You’re reducing the environmental impact over the building’s entire life and making more informed, sustainable design decisions. That

6. Encourage Sustainable Construction Practices

It’s not just about what we build, but how we build. As sustainable architects, we need to promote construction practices that reduce waste, minimise energy use, and protect local ecosystems.

This might involve encouraging your contractors to recycle and dispose of construction waste responsibly. Or advocating for site management practices that limit soil erosion and safeguard local wildlife. Or maybe it’s about creating a design that can be efficiently built, reducing energy use during construction.

Whatever the approach, championing sustainable construction practices means you’re actively reducing environmental impact, promoting responsible resource use, and helping protect our planet. That’s a legacy worth building.

7. Advocate for Sustainable Urban Planning

Sustainable architecture doesn’t stop at the building’s boundaries. It extends into the wider urban environment. A truly sustainable architect considers not just individual buildings, but how those buildings fit into – and enhance – the wider urban ecosystem.

This might involve creating pedestrian-friendly designs that promote walking over driving, reducing CO2 emissions. Or designing buildings that contribute positively to the urban heat island effect, using green roofs or cool building materials. Or perhaps it’s about considering the social sustainability of your designs, creating spaces that foster community and inclusivity.

When you advocate for sustainable urban planning, you’re contributing to a greener, healthier, and more sustainable city. And that’s something we can all get behind.

So there you have it, seven achievable ways you can become a more sustainable architect. Remember, sustainability isn’t just about what’s right for the environment – it’s about what’s right for people, too. And as architects, we’re uniquely positioned to make a difference. So let’s get to it!

Architects sustainability toolkit

Sustainability Toolkit For Architects

This toolkit is specifically designed for architects, offering a comprehensive guide to enhancing sustainability in your operations. It’s packed with practical resources to help you make the shift towards more sustainable practices.

Sustainability Action Plan Template: This template will guide you in setting measurable sustainability goals, and creating a roadmap to achieve them. From energy efficiency to waste management, this plan will become your go-to guide to stay on track.

Sustainability Policy Template: A solid sustainability policy is the foundation for your green initiative. This template provides a detailed structure to help you define your environmental commitments, responsibilities, and review processes.

Sustainable Supplier Assessment Template: Choosing the right suppliers can have a big impact on your sustainability efforts. This assessment tool helps you evaluate potential suppliers based on their environmental credentials, making it easier for you to make eco-conscious choices.

Waste Audit Template: Waste management is a crucial aspect of sustainability. This template enables you to conduct a thorough waste audit, identify where your waste is coming from, and find ways to reduce, reuse and recycle more effectively.

Employee Sustainability Pledge Template: Involving your team in your sustainability efforts is a powerful way to make a bigger impact. This pledge template empowers your team to commit to a set of sustainable behaviours, fostering an eco-friendly workplace culture.

Download the Sustainable Architects Toolkit now!

Architects Found These Helpful

If you’ve enjoyed this post, you’re in for a treat. We have other articles in this series that are packed with industry-specific tips to help you become more sustainable. Take a look:

Sustainable Builders: Explore the incredible world of sustainable building practices. From energy-efficient designs to eco-friendly materials, this post is a must-read for anyone in the construction industry.

Sustainable Carpenters and Joiners: Discover how carpenters and joiners are carving a more sustainable future. This post delves into innovative techniques and materials that are helping to transform this traditional craft.

Sustainable Landscapers: Immerse yourself in the art of sustainable landscaping. From xeriscaping to permaculture, this post will inspire you to create beautiful, resilient landscapes that thrive in harmony with nature.

So go on, continue your sustainable architects journey with us. You’ll discover a wealth of knowledge, inspiration, and practical tips to help you lead the way in sustainable architecture.

“Architects shape a sustainable future by designing eco-friendly buildings.” – United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Case Studies – Architects Sustainability

Many architects have paved the way in sustainable design and construction. Let’s take a look at some who are leading the way in integrating eco-friendly practices into their work.

The Enterprise Centre in Norwich, UK, designed by Architype, is one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe. They’ve utilised locally sourced materials and passive design strategies to achieve outstanding energy efficiency. An impressive feat of sustainable architects!

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Pixel Building in Melbourne, designed by Studio505, has earned the highest Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. This building uses rainwater collection, solar power, and an impressive green facade to enhance its sustainability credentials.

Over in the USA, the Lunder Conservation Center in Washington D.C., by Kieran Timberlake, stands as an example of how historical buildings can be retrofitted for sustainability, integrating state-of-the-art energy efficient systems and green building materials while maintaining the integrity of the original design. It showcases how sustainable architects can balance historic preservation with environmental responsibility.

Impressive Stats

It’s not just case studies that highlight the importance of sustainability in architecture. Check out these compelling stats:

According to a report from the World Green Building Council, buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions. 28% comes from operational emissions, i.e., energy used to heat, cool and light buildings, while the remaining 11% are embodied-carbon emissions, i.e., carbon released during the construction process and production of building materials. This highlights the enormous potential architects have in reducing carbon emissions and underlines the importance of sustainable architectural practices.

Meanwhile, a report by U.S. Green Building Council states that green building will account for more than 3.3 million jobs in the U.S. by 2028. The same report found that the green building market is anticipated to grow 10.3% annually and that LEED-certified buildings have 34% lower CO2 emissions. This indicates a booming trend in the demand for sustainable architects and their crucial role in a greener future.


Architects hold a unique position to lead the fight against climate change. The eco-friendly practices we’ve covered demonstrate the practical steps that can be taken to achieve a more sustainable architecture practice.

We urge you to take the leap. Incorporate these practices in your work and take advantage of our toolkit to simplify your transition to sustainability.

Sustainable Architects FAQ

Q1: What is sustainable architecture?
A1: Sustainable architecture refers to the design of buildings that aims to minimise environmental impact by using energy-efficient technologies, environmentally friendly and recycled materials, and optimising the use of the building site.
Q2: How can I make my architecture practice more sustainable?
A2: There are several ways you can do this. Use energy-efficient design techniques, consider the lifecycle of building materials, aim for LEED certification, and consider the environmental impact of your designs. Download our toolkit for more detailed guidance.
Q3: Is sustainable architecture more expensive?
A3: While some green materials and technologies can be more expensive upfront, they often provide significant cost savings over the life of the building through reduced energy costs and lower maintenance costs.
Q4: What role do architects play in sustainability?
A4: Architects have a significant influence on the sustainability of building projects. They can choose materials and designs that minimise environmental impact and they can advocate for green building practices.
Q5: What is LEED certification and why should I aim for it?
A5: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a widely recognised green building certification system. It provides independent verification of a building’s green features, allowing for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings.

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