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Insights How does sustainable architecture help the environment?

If you work in the civil engineering space, the likelihood is you have heard about sustainable architecture.

Some consideration for sustainable architecture is taken in almost all new architectural projects. For example, governments typically now require the use of super-insulating materials in all new builds. Many new properties are also built with solar panels as standard.

Organisations such as AtkinsRéalis are leading the way in sustainable architecture, helping to create built environments at the cutting edge of sustainability. We know first-hand that this can be a fascinating space to work in and give those with the necessary qualifications and expertise the chance to make a significant and long-lasting impact on the health of our planet.

Sustainable architecture: The future of our planet

There is no disputing that in the upcoming years, the world will face a number of substantial challenges. In fact, the UN has outlined 17 of the biggest goals that they see as essential to achieving by the year 2030. One of these goals is to:

“Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”

This target can be achieved only through sustainable architecture. Professionals in this space are driven to minimise the adverse impact that the built environment has on the natural environment. This can include increasing efficiency to limit the emission of harmful gases into the atmosphere to improving the management of rainfall to limit flooding and erosion.

Although many aspects of sustainable architecture may not be considered cost-friendly in the short term, the long-term impact of not taking action could be devastating. We are already witnessing the negative impact that modern society has on the environment with rising temperatures and natural disasters of ever-increasing severity.

It is not just ethically right to protect our environment, but it is also essential to maintain a healthy environment on this planet, and sustainable architecture is the key to achieving this. In light of this fact,

architects are now in a better position than ever to find a role that is primarily about creating a brighter, more sustainable future for the future than ever before.

The challenges of sustainable architecture

There is no doubt that sustainable architecture is the way we must approach the future of our built environment, but this doesn't mean it's free from challenges. These are wide-ranging, and overcoming them will require creativity and critical thinking.

For example, cost will play a huge role in whether sustainable architecture has a real future in the global market. Although there are many sustainable solutions available today, only a handful are deemed cost-effective and are widely used. Architects in this space must find ways to reduce costs or offer alternative solutions.

Another obstacle that must be addressed is culture. Even when sustainable, cost-effective alternatives are presented, they are often dismissed in favour of solutions which are known, extensively proven and trusted. This is reflected in some regulations, with policymakers favouring the ‘way things have always been done’ in direct competition with more environmentally friendly alternatives. Although much of this progress is out of their control, architects can have a significant impact by making sustainable solutions more attractive and actively advocating their adoption

The latest sustainable tools and practices

There are already several tools and practices used in architecture in order to develop more sustainable outcomes. Some of these, such as the addition of solar panels and increased insulation are already widely used across new building projects. Yet other tools and practices are still gaining traction in this space.

For example, living building materials are growing in popularity. These are materials that can be used in architectural projects and that behave in a way closely resembling a living organism. This can bring many benefits, ranging from decreasing the use of potentially harmful materials to removing carbon from the atmosphere.

One example of this is self-mending bio-cement. This living building material incorporates calcifying bacteria, which works as a long-lasting healing agent. In turn, this can extend the lifespan of the material, minimising the need for replacement and repair over time.

Choose a career in sustainable architecture with AtkinsRéalis

Sustainable architecture is an essential part of overcoming some of the biggest global challenges. Here at AtkinsRéalis , we are dedicated to helping people develop as professionals and executing projects in a way that will positively contribute to doing this. To do this, we need ambitious professionals with a more sustainable vision for the future. If you want to play your part, why not browse our latest architecture and planning jobs?