Observed for the past 53 years on April 22, Earth Day is an occasion celebrated worldwide to promote and show support for conservation of natural resources and sustainability. One way to do that in the AEC industry is through sustainable design.
According to Dorte Mandrup, Laureate of the 2022 Global Award for Sustainable Architecture™, architecture is a symbiotic relationship between culture and nature. She feels architecture can be accomplished in a way that protects valued places. When humans are more connected to the natural surroundings, there can be better balance in design. Sustainable architecture achieves that balance when human beings are included in solutions.
During the 17 years it has been in existence, the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture has fostered research, experimentation and communication around sustainable architecture and urban renewal. For the 2022 program, participants were encouraged to consider architectural solutions to enhance the connection between the structures being built and the changing environment – an architecture-nature synergy.
To learn more about the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture and see interviews with other award winners, visit the Graitec website.
In a video interview after winning the 2022 award, Dorte Mandrup explained her staff works closely with experts, including those within the architecture firm’s offices, to perform analyses so the right choices can be made in the firm’s designs. In the past five years, knowledge has expanded greatly around a sustainable approach to design. One direction she has stressed is that those in the industry need to change and find new ways of building. Dorte Mandrup’s firm is trying to help solve the problem. New methods will need to be established, and the industry will look different than it has even over the past ten years.
This Earth Day, following are 4 things you should know about sustainable architecture:
- There is no quick fix in accomplishing sustainability. It’s not about opinions. Rather, it has become about carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint, lifecycle analysis and the scientific support to make the right choices. “When it comes to sustainability,” Dorte Mandrup has said, “evidence over opinion will change architecture.”
- You can work with architecture in a way that respects valued places and enhances their protection. There can be more connectedness between humans and their natural surroundings. There can be better balance. Protecting does not leave human beings out of the equation; it helps human beings understand what they have.
- Concrete is perhaps the greatest challenge in sustainability. Although you can recycle concrete, it still has a large CO2 footprint. As alternatives, traditional materials – rammed earth, hemp – are being reinvented to be used in different ways than they were used historically. This is one of multiple efforts that will set a different framework for the way architecture is accomplished.
- Sustainability issues require more than just technical solutions. They also require living with more of a circular economy and producing less waste. In construction, this means designing with conservation of materials and natural resources in mind.
As new paths for sustainable design and construction are discovered, they will change architecture. There is a balance between artistic and scientific, and Dorte Mandrup has pointed out that “architecture is an artistic science.”
Graitec supports the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture as a way to support green initiatives without compromising iconic design. Since 2010, the prize for the award has been under the patronage of UNESCO.
And here’s another way to observe Earth Day . . . Check out the webinar, “Building a Better Future: Celebrating Sustainable Architecture” with Laurent Laforest and Thomas Brayé – available on demand.