Sustainable design

Introduction

Sustainable design is the philosophy of designing physical and conceptual objects, the built environment and services to fulfil the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability. Sustainable designs are more commonly seen nowadays because of the rise in environmental issues like greenhouse effect and global warming. With reference to a survey done by Autodesk Inc, the results indicate that mechanical engineers expect to see an increase in sustainable design work in 2010. “According to survey results, designs that use less energy or reduce emissions remain the most important sustainable technology practice, while manufacturing processes that use less energy and natural resources were also a priority.”

There are several factors to consider when creating a sustainable design. They are ecological sustainability, built environment, economic sustainability and social responsibility. Ecological sustainability deals with issues regarding the natural

Ecological Sustainability – environmentally-friendly designs

Built Environment – man-made design, indoor and outdoor design

Economic Sustainability – marketability of the design

Social Sustainability -cohesion, place and people

Social Responsibility

Ethics is fundamentally a practical matter. It is concerned with how we should live, how we should treat other people and the world around us. It is how we should act in a moral and responsible manner. Sustainable designs are strongly encouraged because it is beneficial to our environment. It is each and every one of our duties and responsibilities to protect and take care of our environment.

Achieving Sustainable Design

Sustainable designs are achieved through sensitive designs, for example, energy efficiency. Sensitive designs include good contextual studies of the surroundings, factors like site location, weather and local culture. The choice of material for the design is also an important factor as well. It is encouraged that renewable resources are used for building materials as it is environmentally-friendly. An example of a sustainable design is the EDITT (Ecological Design in the Tropics) Tower (Figure 1) in Singapore. It adopts many climatic responsive techniques: “wind walls” to direct wind to internal spaces, solar panels, mechanically joined connections between building components to facilitate recycling, rainwater collection, sewage composting and grey-water reuse. The tower has well-planted facades and vegetated terraces which is approximately about 3800 sq meters, almost

about half of the gross usable area of the building As seen from the layout plan , the greenery are planted at the edges of each level. The placement of the vegetation within the tower at different levels correspond to the microclimates of each individual sub-zone at the tower.

Human Nature Relationship

A good sustainable design should also relate people with the natural environment. Human and nature interaction are encouraged in architectural designs by creating openings to create views, allowing people to be in touch with the natural surroundings.

Man activities that destroy the environment and consume energy are meaningless because they contribute little to our well beings and the quality of life. Recycled furniture is therefore becoming a very popular choice. Wood and glass are good examples of recycled material. However, recycled furniture could also mean to reuse old and unwanted items.

Figure 4 shows a recycled chair made of compact discs. As information are conveniently stored into thumb drives and computers in modern days now, old and burned compact discs are not wanted anymore. Alternative suggestions to reuse the discs may include coasters, but the recycled chair in figure 4 is a good way to reuse loads of discs all at once. However, the comfortability of the chair is another issue. Figure 5 is a coffee table made of bicycle wheel. Bent and spoiled bicycle wheel may be useless to some but after some alterations, the faulty wheels could be turned into a useful piece of furniture.

Cons of Sustainability

The aim of sustainable design is to accommodate people’s current demands and needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to accomodate their own needs. Many of the current processes the modern world chooses to obtain and use our natural resources are short-sighted. Companies looking to make a profit right away can cause long term damage to the environment when they do activities for example, cutting down too many trees or produce pollutants.

However, sustainable design would require huge amount of time, money and research to find out which methods of production would damage the environment the least. This is the major reason why people are hesitant to support sustainable development.

Case Study

The Marcus Beach House designed by BARK Design Architects in Australia has a coastal setting, providing the owner with a relationship with the landscape and sensitive surrounding environment. This site explores filtering natural breezes, lightness, layers of transparency and integrating between indoor and outdoor spaces within dynamic patterns of light and shadow, being a simple frame to enable a contemporary sustainable lifestyle.

The Marcus Beach House Design uses open concept where there are a lot of flexible spaces available. Walls are made retractable to allow better air ventilation. As seen from figures 5 and 6, the blue arrows indicated the wind flow directions through windows and void spaces.

Such architectural designs made use of available natural surrounding elements, for example the wind and the sunlight. Therefore, the energy consumption is greatly reduced.

Conclusion

Sustainability in designs is greatly beneficial to our environment and hence strongly encouraged. The factors to consider when creating a sustainable design are ecological sustainability, built environment, economic sustainability and social responsibility. Everyone is responsible for the natural environment that they are living in and hence should play a part in protecting our Earth. Sustainable designs can be created through sensitive designs with reference to the site context to achieve energy efficiency.