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  • Writer's pictureAna Castañeda

Sustainable Design: What is Net-Zero? The 6 Ways to Implement True Eco-Friendly Architecture Design

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

The Problems of Modern Architecture Design and Construction

It’s easy to think that modern, or contemporary, architecture has hit its peak, both in the stylistic and the revolutionary sense, but this was much the same train of thought way back ten years ago, and 20, and 30, and so on. The point is that things can always get better.

Did you know that nearly 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are courtesies of the construction sector? It should come as no surprise, of course, but it’s not just the fault of big-name companies or commercial architecture firms; even smaller home projects are at fault. Yes, even those touting themselves as eco-friendly and of sustainable design.

Yes, there have been incredible advancements in technology, design, and construction-wise. Still, we’ve yet to make the most out of it, to practice what we preach regarding sustainability. This situation leads us to where Net-Zero modern architecture comes in, the latest international efforts to combat the ever-growing problem of carbon emissions and reach that desired result of genuinely sustainable living (without compromising your high-end concept).

What is Net-Zero Architecture?

Fitting to its name, coined by the New European Bauhaus Program, Net-Zero is a sustainable solution focused on reducing the number of carbon emissions of a construction project to zero, or at the very least a number close to it. Projected to show a reduction of Co2 emissions of at least 55% by 2030, this brand new initiative/solution is changing the horizons of the architecture world.

Of course, that’s all good to hear, but what do you need to make your quality projects, big or small, personal or commercial, add up to this worldwide effort? How can you make your upcoming dream home project contribute to both the benefit of your comfort and the well-being of everyone else?

That’s what we at HAC Arquitectura intend to look at in this article.

1. Applying Net-Zero Energy for your Architecture Project

Net-Zero energy refers to a building that can counterbalance the power required to build and operate it throughout its lifespan. In other words, a structure that can compensate for its daily consumption, one that can “zero-out” its expenses.

To do so, you need to make your development check out the following:

  1. Production of its energy via solar panel and wind turbine technology

  2. Accounting for its energy usage, and last but not least

  3. Reducing its energy consumption through design optimization

Now, this does not depend 100% on the building being efficient. It helps, for sure, but the focus here is to, first and foremost, reduce the cost. This fact reflects why items such as solar heat tubes, photovoltaic panels, and all those forms of sustainable investments are critical for your checklist when designing from the ground up.

2. Achieving Net-Zero Carbon for your Vision or Development

Net-Zero Carbon reduces construction techniques and building materials that result in high carbon emissions. In other words, much like Net-Zero Energy, it’s the amount of carbon emitted minus the amount avoided.

To pull this off, you need to think ahead. Envisioning your living space inevitably raises the question of materials. Which best complements the intended design style, the terrain, climate, etc. Now, think of that but minimizing the use of cement, steel, and glass.

It trims things down. This doesn’t mean you should stop using these materials altogether, but you should find alternatives whenever possible. Say, using clay tiles, recycled metals, reclaimed wood, and the list goes on. Your imprint won’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.

3. Reducing Fossil Fuel Usage

Fossil fuel combustion remains one of the most prominent culprits of the carbon emissions overloading the atmosphere, especially with construction projects.

Yes, cement is one thing, but coal, natural gas, oil, and petroleum-based products are something else entirely. In our opinion, this is why you should consider scrutinizing your project so that you may find ways to minimize the amount of fossil fuel combustion.

To do so, you only need to minimize the use of steel and concrete and instead opt for alternative construction materials, much like finding alternatives for style or design. Give priority to these “instead of” and, should you not find optimal options for everything, you can always find good deals on recycled cement and steel.

4. Aiming for and Spreading the Solution for Sustainable Modern Architecture

Sustainable architecture is vital for Net-Zero: aiming to fulfill your needs without compromising future generations. However, this goes far beyond the examples of recycled materials and solar panels; instead, it comes down to a holistic design philosophy built upon three core pillars of environment, society, and economy.

To think in these terms when putting your ideas into motion ensures the longevity of your concept or development. It even can create a positive impact on the local community. Like design fads, good practices tend to spread and stick with other architects and architect firms, except for all the right reasons.

Some European countries have even begun to implement the Net-Zero framework for public works, motivating the use of this resource-efficient approach throughout the eastern globe. What’s stopping you?

5. Achieving Adaptive Reuse for New Home and Building Developments

Last, though not least, comes a matter more related to the cultural impact of construction, though still very much linked to the environmental impact of the housing business: adaptive reuse.

This approach to smart space usage is that, rather than complete demolition and reconstruction of an old structure, and all the resource spending that implies, adaptive reuse seeks to complement them with new elements, preferably those made up of reused materials. Additionally, reclaiming abandoned spaces or re-defining functions are excellent ways to maintain sustainability.

Why you Should Start Implementing Sustainable Net-Zero Architecture

As you can see, Net-Zero Architecture is far more than just a passerby fad to earn influence in eco-conscious design circles. It’s an investment of lifestyle quality both for you and future generations.

So, next time you’re thinking of buying a lot at a picturesque local, sit down and ask yourself, how much can I make do with what’s already here? Do I need to burn up so many resources to achieve the vision of my beautiful, luxury dream home?

Most of these questions merit a no or, better yet, a better, sustainable alternative.

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