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XThink sustainable architecture

Nowadays, the ecological awareness is enhanced, but it was not always that way.

In fact, during the ‘glorious thirty’, the European countries have joined the United States in the consumer society and started a reckless production of goods and a massive industrialization. They adopt the model of the consumer society. This economic growth is favored thanks to easy access to fossil fuels until the first oil shock in 1973. Fuel energy has been the driving force behind the 20th century economic development without any ecological consciousness. The oil shocks have revealed the fragility of an economy based on these resources.

In 2009, more than 80% of the consumed energy comes from non-renewable fossil fuels.

These sources of energy cause many problems:

-They are exhaustible resources

-The deposits are extremely localized

-They contribute to massive global warming

-They present major risks of pollution

-The situation of the countries which cannot have access to these energies is getting worse.

Nowadays, sustainable construction is taken into account in various domains.

The term “sustainable development” is enshrined during the first Earth Summit organized by the United Nations in 1992. “Sustainable development meets present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainable development is an alternative to our present development which exhausts the natural resources, increases the gap between the rich and the poor and casts a cloud of uncertainty over the future of our planet and its inhabitants. It is our concern to secure our future and the future of our children and grandchildren on a planet where the resources are limited.

Building sector is the most energy-consuming. It is responsible for one third of the CO2 emissions. Heating represents the biggest part of these consumptions and emissions.

The construction industry is a field where energy savings cans be made in order to  limiting greenhouse gases emissions.

To lower the energy and carbon footprint of the constructions various systems are known and already used and certifications rules have been established. The aim is to generalize the BBC label (low energy-consumption buildings) by 2012 and the positive-energy buildings by 2020 (the constructions produces more energy than it requires).

The architects and urban planners have an important role to play in the search of lowering the energy footprint of the buildings. They have to think about existing buildings and the structure of the surrounding areas and a new way of designing the new projects to integrate them to a global ecological reflection. From the beginning the impact of the building with regards to the materials employed and its design has to be assessed.

The architects and clients can estimate the environmental impact of the construction, the overall cost and carbon footprint of it.  A sustainable design takes into account its longlife cycle from the raw material used, its origin and its capacity to be recycled. A sustainable construction can’t be limited to energy considerations; the users well-being, health and comfort have to be thought at an early stage.

XUrban planning and sustainable development

Nowadays, half the world’s population is urban. We measure the importance of a sustainable reflexion at the city level, more than a reflexion of a sustainable building. The town planning is a necessary stake for the reduction of the gaz emission. The application of a sustainable town planning allow to protect our resources, and our territory. The protection of water and of the earth is essential for that future generations are not deprived.

The city density, their form, the transport network, affect on the energy consummation of a territory.

Urban morphology is constituted by the size, the form, the building organization, the population density… Urban morphology has an importance on energy efficiency of a city. The possibility to create bioclimatic passiv architecture in the city depend of the urban climate (climatic conditions near the buildings, the form, his density, the air pollution, the air flow).

Studies point the interaction between the city density and the fuel consumption : less a city is dense, more she’s spread, more the fuel consumption is high and conversely.

Urban morphology has an influence on the energy consumption of buildings.  For example, the organization of the urban area play for the natural light in buildings and their energy consumption.

City network transports represent a major stake in his sustainable development possibilities. Nowadays, transports represent half of the world energy consumption.  A city more compact and served by the public transport network will less energy-hungry and more sustainable.

The sustainable city concept isn’t only the ecology but the social aspect too.

A sustainable city must take into account the protection of biodiversity. It is indeed at the heart of major climatic and geochemical balances and his respect is important in the context of sustainable development. Biodiversity is threatened by global warming, various types of pollution and the destruction of his territory. The best way to protect biodiversity is to respect territories necessary for plants and animals.

Sustainable construction in a overdeveloped city don’t solve the problem. It is to rethink the architecture and urban planning to get goals of reducing gas emissions.

XThe hign environmental quality approach

After the first oil shocks, the France has develop regulations, certifications, and labels to encourage a reduction in energy consumption of buildings. HQE was created by the various actors in the field of the building for find answers to environmental issues.

The HQE process is a standard for green building in France, based on the principles of sustainable development. It’s a process of conception and achievement : it concerns the conduct of the operation, management, and the definition of specific and adapted objectives. Collaborative work will be developed between all the actors that will create and inhabit the building. The goal is to produce healthy, comfortable and environmental buildings. The energy performance of a HQE building must answer to the high requirements of the certification, it is indeed a major issue but it should not forget the other aspects : quality of life, acoustic comfort, thermal, etc…

Today, we search to expand the process to others types of constructions :

The 14 targets are based on the HQE process. They describe quality objectives :

Managing the impacts on the outdoor environment

  • Harmonious relationship between buildings and their immediate environment
  • Integrated choice of construction methods and materials
  • The avoidance of nuisance by the construction site.
  • Minimizing energy use
  • Minimizing water use
  • Minimizing waste in operations
  • Minimizing building maintenance and repair

Creating a pleasant indoor environment

  • Hydrothermal control measures
  • Acoustic control measures
  • Visual attractiveness
  • Measures to control smells
  • Hygiene and cleanliness of the indoor spaces
  • Air quality controls
  • Water quality controls

The environmental factors used in the HQE are subject to a search for international standardization.

They concern both the indoor environment as its appearance, its integration site, its use of natural resources, etc…

The capacity of the HQE process to adapt to local conditions allows it to be part of a sustainable development perspective.  One of his strengths is to know evolve and enrich the practice. It’s a progress whose direct beneficiaries are the actors. Sustainable development differs from other approaches by taking into account all environmental aspects of a project.

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