Tag Archives: sustainable building designs

Green Architects

As we all become more aware of green issues and the impact that that our lifestyles and consumption patterns have on our environment, many people are examining their living patterns and the way their homes are constructed, in order to reduce their energy demands.

Green Architects Professional Training

As this interest has increased, the architectural profession has responded with specific environmental architecture training courses to enhance the skills of those interested in becoming green architects.

Natural Comfort

When new buildings are designed by experienced green architects, using the latest energy-efficient principles, owners enjoy reduced energy consumption and a more naturally comfortable environment. Owners of non-energy efficient buildings may ‘retro-fit’ their existing buildings to reduce energy loads and achieve greater comfort.

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Sustainable City Masdar

The sustainable city of Masdar, designed to house 50,000 people and covering an area of 7 sq. km. on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, will be the world’s first carbon neutral city.

Whilst we in Australia are still debating how to tackle Climate Change and implement policies to shift from carbon-guzzling fuels to alternative energy, in a most unlikely place in the world, the United Arab Emirates is well on its way to making this shift. Based on policy decisions made years ago, the UAE already has real programs for a carbon neutral sustainable city at an advanced stage of implementation.

The State of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, launched their Masdar ‘Carbon Neutral’ City Plan and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (‘MIST’) in 2007. Four years later, sustainable city Masdar, with MIST (associated with USA’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology) at its centre, is under construction.

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology

Image Solar Panel Roof MIST

Sustainable City Solar Panel Rooftop

MIST, with onsite student accommodation facilities, solar, geothermal and construction prototype practice facilities was designed by Lord Foster (Foster & Partners Architects UK) has been completed. Abhu Dabi’s Future Energy Company (FEC’) Headquarters, also designed by Foster, is now under construction.

Sustainable City Promises

Image of model Masdar Sustainable City

Residential Quarter Model by Aedas Int'l

The water use savings for Masdar are huge. For a city of 50,000 people the sustainable city designers promise 8,000 cu m3 of desalinated water use compared to 20,000 cu m for a conventional city: a saving of $2 billion in oil use over 25 years.

Additionally, the design offers 99% recycling of city/construction waste and a car-free person-mover automated transport system with 200m maximum  walking distance from domicile to public transport.

Whilst China’s Dong Tan Eco-City has yet to get off the drawing board, the Masdar development is in its second stage.

Alternative Energy Companies Hub

Construction of a hub of 1,500 alternative and sustainable energy and associated technologies companies, including company giants like Siemens, are taking space around the administrative core of the city.

Benefitting From Results

It is the FEC management and the Masdar Institute that methodically plot the technological space and the standards that define this carbon neutral city. Their aim is to develop methodologies, intellectual property and hardware which Masdar FEC’s management will sell to the rest of the world:

Reproduce Masdar Elsewhere

The management of MIST distils the results of field testing from their various initiatives, including the use of materials and their  industry applications to define guidelines based on these results.

Abu Dhabi intends to leverage the knowledge gained in developing this sustainable city with a minimum carbon footprint, by building other sustainable communities elsewhere.

The Masdar project is developing through a six-pronged development structure consisting of:

1.    Masdar Institute of Science and Technology,
2.    Masdar Research Network,
3.    Innovation and Investment,
4.    Special Projects,
5.    Carbon Management and
6.    Masdar Zone Development

What Australia Can Learn From Masdar

There are lessons here for Australia, specifically ‘how to implement and quickly achieve real results,’ in a situation where we are running out of time.

This article written by Sasha Ivanovich FRAIA

SIA Architects Pty Ltd



Sasha recently returned from a four week study of the City of Masdar as the recipient of the Commonwealth Endeavour Award and hosted by Aedas International in UAE and supported by RISE.

Solar Energy and the Built Environment

Solar energy  passive design considerations have not yet become mainstream building industry practice  in Australia, despite its many positive advances in the built environment.

In my opinion, conservative forces in the building industry are still going out of their way to stifle progress by lobbying government for negligible changes to the building code compliance system and even pushing to water down the debate,  so that the long established building industry approach to land subdivision and the building of  packaged  ‘project’ homes remains largely unchanged.

Built Environment Solar Passive Design Saves 80-90% Energy

The Built Environment solar passive house South Beach Image

Built Environment South Beach House

Image: 2010  Residence located at South Beach, Western Australia Designed by Ecotect-Architects

This design is passive solar with solar water heating, photovoltaic and water conservation technologies which will save 80 – 90% energy and up to 60% water usage, when compared to the average luxury home or “Mac-Mansion”!  A 2005 award-winning solar passive house also designed by Ecotect-Architects is featured in the Swanbourne Centre blog.

The image shows the western façade with the north solar collection façade running down the block to create maximum privacy. (Note: for buildings in the northern hemisphere the aspect would be to the south rather than north.)

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Top Architect Says Building Practices Must Change to Cope with Changing Weather Patterns & Disasters

2 November 2009

Jacinta Goerke

ONE of Australia’s leading environmental architects today said rapid change was required in the way we build and renovate properties and prepare for disasters.

The director of Wise Earth Pty Ltd and Order of Australia recipient Mr Garry Baverstock said the increase in reported property damage due to bad weather reaffirms the need to change the way we build structures and prepare for catastrophes.

Damage from 2009 tsunami in Pago Pago, American Samoa

Damage from 2009 tsunami in Pago Pago, American Samoa

“The west coast of Australia has been hit by ongoing severe storms this winter while fires, droughts, floods and dust storms have affected central and eastern Australia not to mention the tsunami that devastated some Pacific Island nations recently,” said Mr Baverstock.

“Most houses and buildings in Australia will not withstand ongoing storms, extreme cyclones, heavy rain, hail, fires, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and tornados.

“With climate change now in action we need to implement adaptive practices which means changing the way we live and fast!” said Mr Baverstock.

Mr Baverstock said many new houses and commercial buildings did not comply with sustainability principles and people should feel short-changed if problems occurred in their homes within ten years.

“The tie-down on roofing needs to be more solid, windows need to be stronger and homes should be designed to complement the surrounding environment,” he said.

“Houses should be built to last at least three generations and the integration of climate sensible principles, passive solar design, natural vegetation and waterways is vital,” he said.

He said investing extra money up front to construct a durable home or other building is cheaper to maintain in the long run and won’t fly away in a storm.

Mr Baverstock said the federal government had introduced a uniform building code for all states and territories but it failed to include comprehensive sustainable best practice benchmarks.

“The legislation that guides building practices in this country needs to be reviewed and amended to comply with the impact of changing weather patterns and sustainability principles,” he said.

“I’m aghast that developers can still carve up land without taking into account the northern orientation of each lot, rising sea levels and necessary waterway and vegetation corridors.

“While the government has made initial changes we have a long way to go before our homes and buildings will be able to sustain battering caused by harsh weather,” he said.

Mr Baverstock said people keen to live in durable homes should tell their architects, drafts people, builders and local councils to adopt sustainable building policies and designs.

He said at least 80 per cent of people in Australia lived along coastal strips and this made them more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“If enough people place pressure on builders and local councils then building codes will change,” said Mr Baverstock.

Name: Tsunami 2009 Pago Pago
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tsunami_2009_Pago_Pago.jpg
Author: Lorn Cramer
Licensing: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

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