The superheroes of the 21st century are none other than architects. Without laser weapons or special devices, but endowed with ingenious solutions, imagination, and knowledge of non-polluting materials, the new generations of architects have taken the fight against climate change very seriously. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the big studios around the world, have made the “sustainable” a hallmark of their projects.
And you may be wondering why architects specifically are called upon to mitigate the devastating results of global warming. We’ll explain it to you in this article.
As it turns out, according to studies by several institutions in charge of environmental protection, today we know that almost 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the construction industry. This alarming figure not only became a powerful call to review the procedures and materials used by this industry, but also an almost desperate invitation to architects and designers to reevaluate their role in the construction of a more sustainable future.
But a lot has happened to the world of architecture and construction since then. Research of sustainable technologies, use of alternative materials, the evolution, and constant upgrade of architectural “best practices” are some of the most remarkable steps taken. But what you may not know is that today’s world has required architects to acquire new skills or superpowers that sometimes go under the radar, even if they help them make a difference.
3 Architectural superpowers
Interpreting nature. While knowing how a design has an effect on the planet and its inhabitants is not such a “cool” superpower, reading and understanding nature so it can become a mentor to make sustainable design decisions, certainly is. Today’s architects have returned to their origin. And like Da Vinci in The Renaissance, they have begun to find in nature the solutions to their construction problems.
How the bees build their panels, and the underground constructions of the ants are just two examples of sources of inspiration that sustainable architecture has found to work hand in hand with the planet and not against it.
This approach has given rise to novel bets that have managed to enrich architecture, and among them, we can name biomimicry (constructions that integrate into nature or copy it) and energy-positive buildings (they produce the energy they consume). Thanks to this type of initiative, what’s “green” seems to be gaining more space and importance in government plans and building ordinances of cities in developed countries.
Talking to materials. Understanding the materials is another superpower of sustainable architecture. Knowing where the materials they use in construction come from both in terms of location, as well as who makes them and how they do so, these days makes all the difference. Why? Because each product has its carbon footprint and the manufacturer’s operating practices have an impact on how good or bad a product is for the environment.
Nowadays, the most important aspect in the race of sustainability is the struggle to reach a number close to zero. Not surprisingly, there are currently a large number of green building certifications that reward “good manufacturing practices” and assure architects that their projects have a reduced impact on the environment.
This has also opened the door to the discovery of new materials and the reincorporation of some that our ancestors used. Wood, bamboo, and clay are three examples of this. But if we’re going to talk about innovations we have to mention “negative cement,” which is expected to substitute the traditional one, since it’s 90% more ecological, because it recycles the CO2 that is generated in its manufacture.
Seeing the future. This superpower is not about predicting; it’s about anticipating events and finding solutions. For today’s architects looking ahead and using the new technologies available has meant a change in their work structure.
That is why solutions such as 3D printers, whose use seems to come from the Marvel stories, have managed to completely turn the construction industry around, not only in terms of time but also in improving the conditions of those who work in it. And if we add to this innovation the new digital tools to develop building designs, we can certainly say that architecture is the career that can see the future because it lives in it.
So, while these champions of the fight against climate change have not been considered part of the Avengers, they are being called to update themselves every day to build a sustainable future for the planet where we all want to live.