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An Introduction to Sustainability in the Built Environment

What is sustainable design? Simply put, sustainable design works to decrease negative environmental impact while increasing building performance. By designing structures that consciously reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources, we minimize waste.

 

 

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WHY PIVOT TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY?

In today’s world, sustainability is a major issue driving policy change and public concern in multiple arenas—both personal and political. The 2015 Paris Agreement ushered in a global sustainability challenge (to reduce total CO2 emissions by 45% in 2030), but our global dependence on fossil fuels is creating consequences we can no longer ignore: rising temperatures (limited to 2°C by the Paris agreement), droughts, and wildfires. Turning our attention towards energy consumption and sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels is critical if we hope to alleviate climate pressure. The Built Environment Industry is responsible for about 36% of global energy needs, according to the United Nations 2021 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction. Thanks to Covid-19, CO2 emissions from the building and construction sectors fell to near 2007 levels—a tough low to maintain without thinking differently about how we do business. To fulfill the Paris Agreement, the construction sector must completely decarbonize by 2050. It’s a tall order and embracing this new
global objective will drive industry-wide changes.

What is sustainable design? Simply put, sustainable design works to decrease negative environmental impact while increasing building performance. By designing structures that consciously reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources, we minimize waste. Sustainable design goes beyond simply the output. How we work is just as important as the finished structure. Creating spaces that encourage sustainable living help individuals cut consumption. Every stage of
the process is optimized to conserve energy—from embracing digital transformation to choosing sustainable materials and including green spaces within project designs. BIM (Building Information Modeling) and BEM (Building Energy Modeling) are changing our current ways of working and collaborating in the construction industry. Incorporating BIM and BEM will allow professionals to design and build better and faster.

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