The dramatic improvement in recent decades in our understanding of sustainable design has shown that designing sustainably doesn't have to be a compromise—it can instead be a benefit. When done correctly, sustainable design results in higher-performing, healthier buildings which contribute to their inhabitants' physical and mental well-being.
The benefits of incorporating vegetation in façades and in roofs, as well as materials and construction systems that take energy use and pollution into account, demonstrate that sustainable design has the potential to create buildings that improve living conditions and respect the natural environment.
Below we have compiled 30 plans, sections and construction details of projects that stand out for their approach to sustainability.
Incorporation of vegetation: A layered system that incorporates the use of vegetation on roofs and facades—which can also incorporate other systems such as urban gardens or water recycling systems—provides significant economic, social and environmental benefits. These systems are particularly useful in improving sustainability in crowded urban areas.
Use of local materials and the study of construction systems: The choice of material responds to both the availability of local resources and to the local climate, allowing the interior spaces to be adapted to the external climatic conditions. The use of local resources and the design of a construction system which responds to the natural characteristics of the place also gives the benefit of a lower cost with respect to transportation and maintenance.
The study of bio-environmental design: When carrying out a project that aims to optimize building performance using only natural environmental factors, an understanding of the mechanics of those environmental factors is key. These buildings must take advantage of the natural energy of the sun and the wind, incorporating them into an architectural design.