As intermediaries between buildings and people, architects have a unique opportunity to use creative and innovative solutions that combine design excellence with environmental responsibility. An increased awareness of the enormous impact of contemporary forms of urban development is absolutely necessary in our era; for construction not only uses renewable and non-renewable resources, but also generates waste that, if not handled properly, can be potential harmful to the earth.
As the population of our planet continues to increase, architects and builders alike face an engaging challenge to design buildings that are comfortable, healthy, safe, high in performance, and carefully maintain a synergistic balance between natural and built environments.
At SAGA, our studio takes a collaborative approach to sustainable design, which allows for the optimal integration of the design team with the vision and needs of the client.
Our approach makes a conscious effort to manage economic and social systems with natural systems and resources, to enhance the quality of life for the current and upcoming generations, local ecosystems, and the global environment at large. Using the LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ as a guide, our ecological design approach is founded on these basic principles:
Resource and Energy Efficiency: Taking advantage of renewable, on-site energy with correct building orientation, solar gain, daylight potential, natural ventilation, and passive heating and cooling techniques. Consideration of resources used, preference to environmentally friendly products. Ensuring the Health and Well-being of the end occupant or user: Safe environment, natural light, clean air and water.
Social and Cultural Enhancement: Respecting the existing site and surrounding community.
Sustainable Construction –
Sustainable construction may be defined as building practices that responsibly create a safe and healthy built environment with minimal adverse impact upon the site, the regional area, and the global environment. These practices involve environmental assessment, eliminating the use of toxic materials and minimizing the consumption of non-renewable materials.
During the construction phase, one important focus is water conservation. In sustainable construction, efficient water use should control, reduce or treat site-runoff while recycling water for on-site use whenever possible. One of the easiest indoor water-saving strategies is to use low flow faucets, appliances, shower heads, and toilets; and for the exterior, the use of water-friendly landscaping, storage and recycling of gray water, and utilizing a rainwater harvesting system.
Building materials are another vital link in the system and are judged based upon resource efficiency. Recycled content materials are numerous, ranging from 70 percent recycled glass bath tiles to recycled aluminum doors. Driveway surfaces, kitchen and bath cabinets, concrete, wood products, and even insulation can be partly or fully made from recycled content. There are materials made from renewable instead of non-renewable resources, which are in turn recyclable and are durable with high life expectancies.
Every aspect of a sustainable building utilizes the concepts of energy, water, and resource-efficiency without sacrificing comfort and aesthetics without these practices. Sustainable building results in a better overall project in terms of energy use, operating cost and occupant comfort.
Employing all of these strategies and more, we have worked hard to develop successful solutions for the implementation of sustainable design and construction.
At SAGA, we are proud of our involvement in helping to promote the commitment to environmental stewardship, while increasing the awareness of sustainable practices.