Road to Sustainability
The stage for mankind exists because we take a piece of nature away to build it. Most of the times, we do it irresponsibly.
The levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are reaching numbers unseen before. Hence the temperatures are rising, the glaciers melting, and the water volume is growing every year.
We pollute our soils, our oceans. We eat strawberries in winter from China or Spain after unwrapping them from an infinite sea of plastic packaging. The global supply chains, massive transportation costs and inherited pollution contribute drastically to enhance these behaviours.
Deforestation took over tree harvesting, undressing our forests and giving place to agricultural fields, feeding the population spread around the world. Thus, the soil becomes contaminated, releasing carbon into the atmosphere. The more carbon we sustain in our soils through growing plants, the more water is generated in them, leading to transpiration, rain, lower temperatures and healthier air.
The worries are endless, and the construction industry plays a big role in this dark scenario.
More than 50% of the world's population lives in urban areas and it is expected to reach 75% by 2050. This added to the fact that the EU and all its Member States have signed the Paris Agreement with environmental goals by 2050, should entitle every architecture and design practice to work on shaping our cities, towards a Climate-Neutral or Net-Zero society.
Moreover, according to experts, the building realm takes up to 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Some are synched to the running appliances and systems, denominated by operational energy. But the largest contribution goes to the power needed to ramp up the buildings themselves, the so-called embodied energy.
We must rethink the way we build our cities and communities, how we frame our societies into the urban scenarios and their shoebox kind of buildings. We need to be closer to nature, even if within a city context.
From the macro scale of our cities, the different communities created in them, towards the micro extension of one's apartment or house, the guidelines for a sustainable and green design need to be rethought. The way we transport our people, goods and construction materials, to the lack of green spaces in our cities, the food we eat and where it comes from, the energy we produce to fuel our houses, cars, computers and tokens, this all should follow a different mindset, placing the world and its environment first.
Embracing nature-based solutions into our buildings will improve the environments we surround their users in. We need to plan our cities and buildings forecasting their carbon footprint, energy consumption and production. And how can they help their inhabitants to breathe healthier air?
For that, we should be thinking about how we dimension, construct and operate our buildings: keeping them small, simple and near existing infrastructures. The construction times and methods must be rethought, such as the materials we use, and the waste generated.
There is a lot of physical matter produced by mankind that could be reused and recycled.
We want to work hand in hand with nature to develop sustainable designs.