How Contemporary Residential Architecture Helps to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Buildings

 Gone are the days of only thinking of sunlight penetration, whether the house should face north or south, and what type of material should be used for the house’s structure. Modern residential architecture in South Africa embraces green building design features. This means that more and more high-end residential and commercial buildings are designed for sustainability, and the construction part also embeds eco-friendly materials and practices.

With contemporary architects having the responsibility of having to use innovative technology and design techniques to ensure the sustainability of buildings designed, they face the challenge of how to create aesthetically pleasing buildings that complement their surrounds, and are eco-friendly, yet modern and practical.

Behind the rationale is the underlying goal to minimise the negative environmental impact of humans on the environment. This means that everything from the materials used in the building, to the building’s complete lifecycle must be representative of green design and living principles.

Although modern residential architecture has been associated with smooth and clean lines, it is certainly more than just the style that must be considered. It is about how the design and building of the residential house will affect the opportunities and access to resources for future generations. It means the focus has shifted from the here and now, to the future. Houses are no longer designed just for today. Each building designed and erected will have a certain footprint on the environment, and it is thus an important consideration for every modern residential house that is designed and completed.

An important aspect of modern, sustainable or eco-friendly residential architecture is the focus on energy efficiency over the entire lifecycle of the residential abode. This includes the use of passive and active methods for reducing the energy consumption of the house, and the ability to generate energy through the use of solar heat gains, natural daylight, and even ventilation.

Design strategies include, but are not limited to, the sizes, orientation, and placement of windows, how rooms are spaced, and what the space between two adjacent homes is. If the house is well-insulated, it becomes more energy efficient. This, in turn, means that the homeowner saves on the energy bill. Fewer heaters and gas-based fireplaces are needed to keep the space warm during the winter, and during the summer months, well-designed passive ventilation features help to reduce the use of fans and air-con systems, because sufficient airflow is created to ensure cooler interiors.

The recapturing of energy is another important aspect of sustainable residential houses. On-site energy recycling features help, for example, to turn stale air into fresh air. With such, comes the added benefit of a healthier living environment.

With passive solar design, it is possible to use sun energy more efficiently to minimise the loss of heat. Features of such design include the use of shutters or awnings for closing off the interior in the hot summer months, thereby reducing the amount of heat coming into the home, and thermal mass material to reduce heat loss during the winter months.

The above features are only a few examples of how modern residential architecture uses design principles to reduce the building’s impact on the environment. Call on our team of architectural design professionals for more information and professional design expertise, to ensure that your dream home will be aesthetically pleasing, practical, energy efficient, and eco-friendly.

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