Sustainable Housing and Urban Construction

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Since the beginning of time, the built environment has been an integral part in providing shelter needs for men, women and children. Maslow (1943) formulated that shelter is a basic requirement of humans. In the future, humans will have to construct sustainable shelter otherwise would they would risk depleting resources for subsequent generations. Construction is an example of a multitasking activity. The lifecycle of construction can be broken into phases. Achieving building sustainability in modern environment requires a better understanding of environmental impacts. Impacts such as climate change, associated costs, as well as utilising benchmarking scale to measure across a whole range of building types and occupancies. This report will discuss building sustainability, the constraints that stake holders of built environment face, and the role of architects in the process of constructing sustainable buildings.

Conceptually, sustainability is allowing present generation to meet its needs without depriving later generations of a way to meet theirs. According to Meckler (2004), building sustainability means to “provide a safe, healthy, comfortable indoor environment while simultaneously limit the reduction of the earth’s natural resources”. Architects, with their unique position within the built environment, are well equipped to meet the challenges of sustainability in the built environment. The building and construction industry possesses a high ability to be innovative (Meckler 2004), and through this innovation that it would create new methods and processes resulting in constructing improved sustainable buildings that can be serve as subsequent year’s benchmark to beat. The construction industry has invested in research and development into sustainability in order to gain a clearer understanding the effect of building on the environment and reducing the impact of buildings on the environment. The common goal is to be “energy efficient”. Being energy efficient does not equate to being energy sustainable. The energy from the traditional fossil sources cannot be supplied without using further considerable amount of energy in supplying it. The efficiency of the energy lifecycle starting from the raw extraction of resources, preparation, transport, conversion and distribution to application may be up to 20%. To equate this in simple terms is that it takes approximately 5kWh to deliver 1kWh of energy for consumption. So in order to consume 1kWh of energy, the real term consumption is actually 6kWh. Numerous studies internationally have shown that operational energy consumes the main amount of total energy use in buildings during a typical service lifespan of approximately 50 years. This accounts for about 85–95% of total energy use (Thormark, 2005). From a residential perspective, there should be a focus more on the sustainable development of the residential buildings and urban constructions. The fundamental reason new and more energy-efficient technologies continue to be ignored and the technologies that are applied rarely perform as efficiently as they should is because of a lack of accountability for building energy performance in current building design and operation practices. The building and construction industry in Australia has made significant progress forward in the last 5 years to improve their environmental performance. This improvement has been in response to increased attention from local and state government policies regarding to Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD), as well as the availability of holistic environmental rating tools such as the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star rating tools. Architects factor in climatic variables into their thoughts as they design and plan houses, premises and buildings (Alnaser & Flanagan 2007). In hot dry regions such as in the Northern Territory, the built environment should be planned compactly to reduce the amount of surfaces exposed to solar...
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