Sustainable building for offices by M Moser. Nu Skin, Shanghai

What is sustainable architecture?

As the world’s population grows and the demand for natural resources increases, prioritising sustainable development has become ever more critical. This means meeting the current generation’s needs while maintaining the ability of subsequent generations to do the same.

An important area to consider is sustainable architecture, which seeks to create environmentally conscious, socially responsible and economically viable buildings. This article explores why sustainable architecture is the future.

Landscape architecture by M Moser featuring outdoor co-working space. PayPal, San Francisco

Sustainable architecture is a design approach that considers the environmental impact of buildings during construction and throughout their lifecycle. It aims to reduce overall carbon through passive systems, active energy-saving measures and careful consideration of materials used and waste generated in their construction and operation. Architecture with an environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda aims to increase its value to communities and stakeholders through these sustainable practices. Examples include healthy interiors with low-VOC materials, third spaces dedicated to mental and physical wellbeing and advanced technologies that improve air quality, thermal, lighting and acoustic comfort.

Given the rising demand for more sustainable buildings, the significance of sustainable architectural design cannot be taken for granted. Waste and pollution can be minimised while still producing innovative and aesthetically pleasing designs. Building certifications can play a crucial role in ensuring the validity and credibility of a building’s sustainability achievements. These certifications, which independent third-party organisations award, evaluate various aspects of a building’s design, construction and operation to meet specific sustainability and environmental standards.

You can gain further insight into sustainable office design certifications here.

Sustainable building interior design. Confidential client, San Francisco
Sustainable green building. Confidential client, New York
Sustainable construction projects. Confidential client, New York

It is essential to rethink how we construct and operate the built environment. Transitioning from an industry responsible for nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions to one that can exist in balance with our available resources is the single most impactful move we can make to limit global warming to 1.5oC.

Julian Rimmer, Director, M Moser Associates

Why is sustainable architecture the future?

Sustainability is key in shaping the building industry’s future. Here’s why sustainable architecture is becoming more prominent:

Environmentally conscious

  • Buildings substantially contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable architecture seeks to reduce this impact by implementing key strategies such as:
    – Smart building envelope systems that minimise thermal bridging and energy consumption.
    – Heating and cooling systems, such as more efficient VAV systems, heat pumps and geothermal wells.
    – Photovoltaics (solar energy) to harness clean power from the building’s surface area.
  • Sustainable design and operation of a building prioritises renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power and uses sustainable materials in its construction. In our design process, we consciously aim to avoid red-list materials. These construction and building materials are significantly harmful to health or the environment, so they should be avoided as much as possible. This approach creates a solid baseline for environmentally responsible building practices.

Economically beneficial

  • More sustainable buildings have lower operating costs over time. Research from the U.S Green Building Council (USGBC) reveals that investing in green buildings enhances property values, typically by 4%, due to lower maintenance and energy costs, resulting in a rapid return on investment, often within seven years. Green buildings also consistently yield cost savings, with LEED-certified structures reporting nearly 20% lower maintenance expenses than typical buildings.
  • A recent Landscape and Urban Planning study found that offices with higher green index scores yielded up to 7.8% rent premiums.
  • A study published in Building and Environment found that offices with high daylight levels saw a 5% – 6% rent premium.

Socially responsible

  • Sustainable office buildings are designed to meet the needs of those who use them. This means providing comfortable and healthy indoor environments for all.
  • They also consider the surrounding community’s needs, such as reducing noise pollution and providing spaces with improved air quality.
  • By creating socially responsible buildings, architects and designers can contribute to the wellbeing of the people who use them and the communities in which they are located.
Sustainable building for offices. DNB, New York
Sustainable office buildings. DNB, New York

Building a sustainable future

In a world facing increasing environmental challenges and a growing demand for resources, the future of architecture must include sustainability.

Sustainable architecture should be an integrated approach that balances environmental responsibility, economic viability and social wellbeing. By reducing both embodied and operational carbon through innovative design, energy-efficient systems and circular materials, sustainable buildings are paving the way for a greener future.

For more information on how we are contributing to sustainable architecture, please read this article. As we strive to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future, sustainable architecture is imperative. It’s not just a trend; it’s a long-term commitment to a better world— a world where buildings are in balance with the environment and enhance the lives of those who inhabit them.

Contact our team to learn more about creating environmentally and socially responsible buildings.

Samantha Allen

Associate Director

Julian Rimmer

Global Director

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