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U7_Sustainability in Architecture


_The three pillars are:

_Green and circular economy: focuses on the resource cycle and is a model based on the reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling of materials and products, against the use of virgin raw materials, and improves human well-being and social equity, reduces environmental risks and is resource efficient. It is a model that integrates the social dimension and the conservation of ecosystems.

_Four operational principles: How to act in a sustainable way? The impact of human beings on natural systems must not exceed the carrying capacity nof nature. The use of renewable resources must not exceed their rate of regeneration. The use of non-renewable resources must be compensated by the production of renewable resources, which will eventually have to replace them. The emission into the environement must not exceed the absorptive capacity of the receivers.

_Life-cycle analysis: The LCA studies the environmental impact of a product to its dismantling, for this, it is necessary to know the energy consumption and the pollution to the environment of the various processes that make its use possible: the extraction of the raw materials necessary for its production, the manufacturing process, the transport, its implementation and use and its end-of-life.

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_Ecological footprint: This study assesses the amount of territory needed to generate the biological resources consumed and to absorb the waste that an activity needs and produces.

_3R: Reduce consumption of scarce materials and non-renewable energy. Reuse in the sense of remodeling, rehabilitate, reuse the existing. Recycle is to transform materials that allow another use in the production cycle.

_Healty buildings: connection between human bilogy and the environment. The building must allow: a correct evapotranspiration, an exchange with thermal radiation, with the natral light…

_Psycological aspects: we need to take in account: the proportion of the spaces, the relation among height, width and lenght of rooms and the chromatic climate determined by the colour of the external and internal surfaces. This contribute to determine in the spaces a resting or excitation effect that facilitates the recovery of physical and intellectual energies. The relation with the nature influences positively on the superior nervous functions, determining sensations of well-being.

_Sick Building Syndrome: is that set of symptoms (skin reactions, headaches, nausea, eye irritations, and respiratory tract, tiredness, irritability, vertigo… that can degenerate into a state of chronic illness. It is caused by the change of materials, the industrialization of the technology and the anonymization. SBS covers health conditions that affect between 20-30% of the people occupying a building, derived from agents or sources intrinsic to the same building. The SBS diagnosis focuses on the study of the health risk factors associated with the building: biological factors (bacteria, fungi, spores, mites…), chemical factors (carbon monoxide and dioxide, dust, fibres…), physical factors (thermal confort, lighting, noise, air renewal, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation…) and psychosocial factors (work organisation, relationships, satisfaction indeex…).

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_Climate-Human being: the energy and health of human being largely depend on the direct effects of the environment in which he lives. The atmospheric conditions stimulate or depress the physical and mental work of the man (apathy, stress, grief, illness…) That conditions are at an optimum point within a range of specific climate conditiosn. The human being is a thermal machine that transforms chemical energy into mechanical energy with great heat dispersion due to its metabolism. The lower the effort of the organism to mantain its internal temperature between 36.5º and 37º we will be closer to the «confort zone».

The main elements of the climate environement that influence human confort are:

-The temperature of the air.

-The radiation.

-Thermal emission.

-The movement of the air.

-The relative humidity.

There are environmental conditions that are fundamental in the interaction with the building:

-Temperature (maximum and minimum).

-Sunshine (% and anual distribution).

-Prevailing winds (frequency, direction and intensity).

-Rainfall (average, minimum and maximum rainfall).

-Snow (maximum, minimum and average).

-Relative humidity and vapour pressure.

_Sustainable design: In addition to the environmental problems, the great industrial development has lead to the loss of the skills and know-how accumulated over centuries.

_Bio Architecture: «Baubiologie»: aims to minimize the negative impacts of constructions both on the health of the occupants and on the environment. People-centred, energy efficient buildings with funcional and flexible spaces, using safe and recyclable materials, respecting the territory and its identity. Characteristics: Attention to insulation and thermal inertia, passive installations, water saving and recovery, healthy materials, acoustic and sunlight control, natural lighting and ventilation, open spaces. Bioclimatic architecture represents a working method which, starting with preliminary studies of the climatic conditions of the site, directs the project to achieve sustainability and bioarchitecture objectives.

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-Constructive solutions: The control of the microclimate in the different seasons can be obtained with active systems or rather with passive measures, and therefore sustanaible, as simple as: hindering direct solar irradiation with through windows, adequate orientation of the building, type of building favoring natural cross-ventilation, the use of clear finishes to promote maximum reflection, thermal inertia of the building.

_Materials: traditional materials, experienced over centuries in traditional architecture, guarantee conditions of greater wholesomeness and well-being compared to synthetic materials. Warning!! many of the «natural» materials are submitted for productive or applying reasons to treatments with potentially harmfull chemicals.


Biomorphism is often used as the most consistent project option with bioarchitecture. But not a bio form is guarantee of a bio essence, nor the traditional forms materials and techniques are unnatural.

The globalization of sustainable constructive solutions that are applied indiscriminately in many contexts does not consider the cultural aspects, local materials, the specific environmental conditions of each site.

The use of «natural» materials as a decorative resource for an exclusively aesthetic reason or for efficient installations that are neither dimensioned nor funcional reveal a superficial approach to sustainability.

The reduced energy cost of using a building at a specific moment of its life and the economic savings that this entails without considering the energy cost generated throughout its life can only lead to a momentary sustainability.

«Recycled» has become a magic word for any architecture that wants to aspire to sustainability. However, recycling would be the last option within a group of more sustainable variants such as repair, rehabilitation, recovery, re-use…

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