Buildings consume a huge amount of energy, almost 70% of electricity and 1/3 of all the greenhouse gases are produced by buildings. As architects and designers, it is our social responsibility to look after these statistics and come up with solutions that reduce these numbers. A sustainable solution can act as a sensible approach to designing buildings. Although sustainability can help in reducing these numbers, it can’t entirely zero it down. Renewable architecture, on the contrary, has a much greater impact over replenishing the resources.
Renewable over Sustainable
The sustainable approach towards building design helps in reducing the consumption and overuse of finite resources, it doesn’t focus on renewing or reusing it. This, in turn, leads the resource to either go into a deficit and then eventually extinguish. On the contrary, renewable energy helps in reusing these resources for a better community building. Many renewable options like using solar or wind energy gives an unlimited resource and material for a product to function. Solar panels, windmills act as an active method to generate electricity and other usages.
Some of the effective methods used in today’s time are:
- Harnessing of solar and wind energy is an efficient way of storing the excess sun and wind for later use where the availability of these is rather less. An onsite battery banks where this energy can be stored back to the grid so that it can be used for later.
- Solar energy also allows for a site to function on a microgrid where the energy produced is harnessed and used within the site itself, thus, nurturing a self-contained system.
- The use of gravel or permeable concrete can help in increasing the groundwater. The use of concrete or asphalt, on the contrary, hampers this. Many designers have also started using wood on a large scale for its renewable qualities.
- Solar Hot water systems are efficient methods to enable hot water in the residential sector. Although the installation cost for this is high, the maintenance cost is very low.
- Solar ventilation preheating systems are used in areas where there is a high need for ventilation air.
- Geothermal heat pumps are another effective system that can be installed. Wind and Bio-energy are other methods that are reliant renewable solutions. Bio-energy uses biomass technologies that break down organic matter to release its stored energy. Biofuels are mainly used for transportation but can also be sued to produce electricity.
These methods are easy to install even in a retrofitted building structure. Many historical structures and buildings have now started installing them as an efficient solution to run the building.
Recently, the researchers of the University of British Columbia have designed a “bacteria powered solar cell” that is capable of converting light into energy even in cloudy skies. As British Columbia and Northern Europe are considered as overcast areas, a need to have a cheap sustainable method that functions well even in cloudy skies is rather a necessity.
In the times where a global environmental emergency is on the verge, the usage of renewable energy can be a benefit, both for the residents and the environment. Cities and architecture built on this front have a better liveability factor which caters to a greater good.