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Sustainable buildings are trendy

The word “sustainable” is extremely trendy these days. It applies to many fields: food production, fashion… and buildings. But what is a sustainable building exactly?

The concept

Sustainable buildings are linked to the environmental facet of sustainability. Social and economic aspects are also taken into consideration when it comes to assessing the impacts of actual actions’ objectives. 

Given that energy efficacy of structures in the practice stage is already addressed by existing strategies and rules. The focus of sustainable buildings remains first and foremost the reduction of such material including waste, water, and embedded energy. It also targets resource use and related environmental impacts all along the life-cycle of buildings from the very first extraction to the demolition and recycling of material –end of chain.

An active strategy leading by example

The EU2020 strategy already set the course for the European economy from 2010 and for the following ten years and beyond by focusing on three main priorities; smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Furthermore, the Resource efficiency roadmap was implemented by the European Commission in 2011. It concludes that current policies on buildings, mainly linked to energy productivity, have to be backed up with strategies and plans for resource effectiveness, considering a wider range of resource usage and ecological powers, across the constructions life-cycle. Such policies would "contribute to a competitive construction sector and to the development of a resource efficient building stock." The Resource Efficiency Roadmap forecasts the adoption of a Communication on Sustainable Buildings in 2013.

Natural buildings: a smaller scale identical concept

An alike and identical concept is natural buildings, which is usually considered on a smaller scale and focuses on the use of natural local materials. Other related topics include sustainable design and green architecture. Sustainability may be demarcated as gathering the needs of today’s generations without bargaining on the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Although some green building programs don't address the issue of the retrofitting existing homes, others do, especially through public schemes for energy efficient refurbishment. Green construction philosophies and ideologies can easily be applied to retrofit work as well as new construction.

To sum it up

Although new technologies are continuously being developed to match up-to-date practices in crafting greener constructions, the joint goal is that green buildings are planned to lessen the overall influence of the constructed environment on human health and the natural environment by:

·       Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources.

·       Keeping inhabitant health and improving worker productivity.

·       Decreasing waste, pollution and environmental degradation.

Sustainable buildings benefits:

1.     Siting and structure design efficiency

2.     Energy efficiency

3.     Water efficiency

4.     Materials efficiency

5.     Indoor environmental quality enhancement

6.     Operations and maintenance optimization

7.     Waste reduction 

8.     Life cycle assessment

Here are some sustainable buildings examples around the world:

Bushwick Inlet Park:


In Portland, Oregon, a new homeless shelter uses gray water recycling, solar hot water, and an extremely resourceful scheme:

John and Frances Angelos Law Center

A green roof tops a community building in the park, fashioning a peak where guests can look at sights of Manhattan.

And of course, Sama Beirut!