Last Updated 02 Aug 2020

Environmental Architecture and how we adapt to live in the surrounding environment

Words 26117 (104 pages)
Table of contents

Chapter 1

The Environmental Architecture is not new. It has appeared in the ancient civilizations in the aspects of human attempts to adapt and live in the surrounding environment. These aspects of adaptation were varied in different ways such as: the use of construction materials available in the local environment and the methods used to deal with the elements of the environment and their determinants like rain, wind, sunlight etc. For example, the human civilizations of ancient Egyptian used local materials like wood, brick and papyrus in their architectural systems such as housing for workers while they used natural stone and carved in the mountains such as temples. Other civilizations went to several environmental processors such as domes, vaults and interior spaces, and all this was in the context of human adaptation to its environment. This trend was prevalent throughout the ages and times and the environment was not ignored at all, as various ways were tried to cope with the environmental elements until the industrial revolution.

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With the beginning of the Industrial revolution in the nineteenth century all theories of traditional architecture has changed, and full and strong concentration on the function and economic efficiency as a source of the design had been emerged. As a result, architects ignored to satisfy the human physical needs such as temperature, humidity, light intensity and non-physical needs such as social, psychological and cultural aspects. The physical comfort of humans greatly depends upon the following physical factors; temperature, air quality, lighting environment and acoustic environment. Architects tended to unify the architectural vocabulary of the world and treated buildings as a machine. Hence, a wide gap between architecture and environment came into being. Those who interested in studies of nature and environmental balance called this architecture as ‘Destructive Architecture’ because of its negative impacts on the environment. The rise of science in the Renaissance led to the Industrial Revolution which has enabled environmental engineers to produce reasonably comfortable conditions in almost any building in almost any climate. Some of the most visually powerful architecture of our era has taken technology and pushed it to the limits of its capabilities. The engineering systems associated with this architecture, however, have required high-grade energy to deal with the environmental problems resulting from the building design.

In Europe, in the mid-nineteenth century, industrialization urges steps as well as scientific discoveries reform the human understanding of nature. There was scientific development in construction techniques and architecture, especially in the use of glass and metals and development in the techniques of artificial lighting and air conditioning. John Ruskin, the English art critic and one of the first who observed the environmental degradation caused by industrial progress, proclaimed that architecture should respond to the environment. He stated “God gave us earth to live upon for some time, but its ownership should devolve to our children and grandchildren, so we have no right to ignore them and involve them in punishment for crimes they never committed or even to deprive them of the blessing of their God-given.”

Modernity, in general, is the antithesis of nature and is also a global response to the technical progress. Modernity, in the twentieth century, has appeared in this sense clearly in the work of some architects like Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and Phillip Johnson. It also included the intuitive design and the organic trend in the work of some other architects like Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto and Frank Lloyd Wright. Those architects had been considered as giants and the founders of modernism. Despite the fact that each of them had a contrary view of architecture, they put the first stone and the core of the contemporary environmental architecture.

The interaction between humans, architecture and the environment is a major manifestation of human civilization. During the Industrial Revolution there was a misunderstanding of that interaction as humans believed that they have to demonstrate their ability to conquer nature using the tools and technical capabilities and they did not discover their mistakes until the environment crises emerged. Destructive Architecture did not destroy only the environment, but also destroy the identity and cultural characteristics of the place. Therefore, architects have begun to redefine the word ‘Green Architecture’ to convince buildings users its advantages and its ability to meet the functional needs of the buildings, but the problem is that green architecture concentrate always on the rationalisation of energy consumption and to achieve physical comfort for users.

Green Architecture aims to reduce consumption of natural energies and to use natural materials in buildings construction. Such architecture achieved two important goals at the same time. Firstly, it reduces pressure on natural energy resources, and secondly, it promotes and increases the efficiency of architectural systems. Consequently, green architecture is a sustainable method of green building design. It is design and construction with the environment in mind. Thus, green architecture generally works with the key concepts of creating an energy efficient environmentally friendly house.

The world’s population is now more than 6.8 billion and continues to grow by 83 million people per year. This extreme growth in human population is mortally taxing the Earth and its resources. During the second half of the last century, the world’s urban population has increased tremendously. According to the UNFPA, “in the 1950s there were no more than 200 million urban residents, but by the end of the century their total number was close to 3 billion and it is expected to increase to approximately 5 billion by 2025” (Ghiaus C. & Allard F. 2005). These figures highlight the need for more housing developments around the world to cope with the population growth, but that means more energy consumption and environmental degradation. In the book “The Energy Saving House”, Salomon and Bedel stated, “Without energy, there would be no life and no technical development.” (Salomon T. & Bedel S. 2007) In the UK, approximately 50% of the whole carbon dioxide emissions can be attributed to buildings, in which of 27% originate from residential housing. However, housing is vital to us all – to our economy; our environment; to every individual and family for whom a home represents so much more than just a place to live. From this point of view, the architectural design will be a highly powerful tool in ensuring new housing developments are built to minimise their impacts on the environment, contribute to the energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions. As long as humanity only used the energy it needed for survival and for its primary needs, the world’s energy consumption will be stable.

Finally, Le Corbusier stated “Architecture is one of the urgent needs of man, for the house has always been the indispensable and first tool that he has forged for himself,” and also claimed “the house is a machine for living in.” (Le Corbusier, 1923) From this point of view, it is possible to say that designing a house is something like manufacturing a new car, which needs a planner, experts and tools to be finished and must be tested before being used.

Chapter 2

This chapter focuses on the qualitative research method has been used to gather an in-depth understanding of sustainable architecture. It was crucial to identify what type of method should be used to arrive at the aim of the research. The decision was made to gather the relevant information from specified individuals dealing with the similar challenges. The best method to achieve the target was questionnaire paper being emailed to each one. The questionnaire paper focused on specific matters such as: sustainability, architectural design and the relationship between them. This means a non-numerical data collection and explanation based on sources of data must investigated and analysed to come up with results at the end of the research.

2.1 Research Aim and Objectives

Architects, designing buildings, considered extreme impact of the environment on buildings and how a building can be protected from the environmental effects. Environmental scientists are concerned as to how much buildings impact upon the natural environment. Where there is mutual influence on each other, it is important to establish the impact of buildings on the environment. Housing forms a fundamental part of a nation’s building stock, hence research in this area will have a significant effects in protecting the environment especially in the conservation of energy consumed in these buildings and consequently, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

“The goal of sustainable design is to find architectural solutions that guarantee the well-being and coexistence of three constituent groups land, buildings or building products, energy,” (Jong-Jin, K. 1998). This study aimed to diagnose housing problems to find out what has been done and what can be done in the future and then find the architectural solutions of these problems that will be considered as main principles of a sustainable design in order to meet the targets of the government strategy. In 2008, the UK Government confirmed that all new homes will have to be zero carbon from 2016.

The aim of this study is to help architects and designers put into practice ideas and approaches that allow them to design homes in an ecological and sustainable way. By following principles of sustainable design that are the results of the research laid out in the following chapters and creating a method to assess architectural design (table of assessment), architects might be able to meet the following objectives:

Organise the interior and exterior spaces of the house to better effect.
Assist both the environment and the house occupier by saving energy and money.
Create a healthy and affordable environment.
Choose structural types and materials that are environmentally friendly.
Avoid resource depletion of energy, water and raw materials.
Prevent the degradation of the environment caused by facilities and infrastructure throughout their life cycle.
Create a successful high – performance building.
Identify the principles of sustainable home design that meet this target.

In conclusion, architectural design is a highly powerful tool ensuring new housing developments are built to minimise their impacts upon the environment, contribute to the energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions. The principal objective of this study is to find principle of sustainable design used as a guide by architects to evaluate their design. Thus an evaluating method would be designed to be used as an assessment tool.

2.2 Research Method

To meet the objectives of this study, the research methodology adopted require gathering relevant information from specified individuals facing the similar challenges and compiling databases to analyse these knowledge and opinions thereby arriving at a more complete understanding of how well-designed sustainable housing benefit the environment. The target population are architects who reside in the UK and are involved in architectural practice or the academic training of architects.

Data collection will consist of surveys with architects using a questionnaire method sent by email to a number of them. This kind of survey was made because it was possible get the names and email address of the target people. This is a rapid means of gaining information. Although, questionnaires often seem a logical and easy option as a way to collect information, they are actually rather difficult to design in such a way to be understandable and easy to answer. A structured questionnaire with six questions was developed to aid in collecting the requested information. The aim was to send emails to approximately 100 architects who undertaken a range of roles and who come from different communities and universities within the UK. Followings are the questions that structured the questionnaire paper through the research:

1) How can an architect support the environment?
2) How would you define a sustainable housing design?
3)From your experience, what are the principles of sustainable design?
4)In what way nature can be used as a guide for any design?
5)What are your key concerns as a designer interested in sustainability?
6) How do you judge the success of a building in the green age?

These questions highlight the importance of interrelationship between architecture and sustainability in terms of environmental conservation. Professionals’ answers to these questions assist the research key findings and results at the end of the study and played a main role in creating the principles of sustainable design, which is the main objective of the research.

2.3 Questionnaire Responses

The survey identified 102 architects selected to form the sample selected from four universities. These were including Cardiff University, Bath University, Sheffield University and Brighton University. There were two reasons for choosing these universities, firstly, they have a school of architecture with respected staff of architects, and secondly, they originate in different parts of the UK. It is perceived this might help attain different points of view and attain a range of answers. Twenty seven architects responded the email representing an overall response rate of 26.4%. A total of 16 out of 27 responses answered the questionnaire representing 59.2% and the rest gave different reasons for not answering the questionnaire, for example, five of them have no time; three are not practicing architectural design and the last three are involved in other kind of studies like history of architecture and interior design.

Figure 2.1: Questionnaire answers rate.

Within this poor response rate and the small group who responded, the return answers of the questionnaire provided significant information that would be one of the bases to put the structure and principles of this research. After collecting the data, answers for the questions above could be summarised as follows:

1. How can an architect support the environment?

Reasons underlying the use of this question were that the role of architecture as a responsible profession is of far reaching significance. Architects contribute to protecting the environment by designing environmentally responsive buildings that have less impact on the environment. Architects can assist at every stage. As they can shape the environment physically, they have the ability to influence how people live, whether they walk or cycle, whether they recycle and how much energy they use. The consequence is architects can generate new forms of architectural expression that are closely linked to local conditions, such as; microclimate and topography, natural resources and the cultural heritage of a certain region.

2. How would you define a sustainable housing design?

Sustainable design means doing the most with the least means. It is about ideally using passive architectural means to save energy rather than relying on wasteful mechanical services. Sustainable design aims to meet present needs without compromising the stock of natural resources remaining for future generations. Sustainable design can be defined as ecological design that integrates seamlessly with the ecological systems in the biosphere over the entire life cycle of the built system. Sustainable housing deign has less dependency on fossil fuels on terms of its energy demand, uses low impact materials for construction, mostly self sufficient in terms of its energy usage, has facility to conserve water and dispose waste sustainably.

3. From your experience, what are the principles of sustainable design?

Sustainable design can be summarised as embracing: energy efficiency, the choice and provenance of materials, sources of energy, consider energy implication in site selection and building orientation, take advantage of natural ventilation, specify efficient HVAC and lighting systems, water control, affordable design and efficient use of spaces, healthy indoor environment, landscape and infrastructure, building systems and structure, sustainable dispose of waste and planning design. These answers would be the cornerstone of proposed principles of sustainable design.

4. In what way nature can be used as a guide for any design?

We can learn from nature in terms of adapting to climate which can be a guide for any design. Bio mimicry is the examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems in habitation. Nature provides inspiration, information and analogy. Nature should be imitated and our built systems should be mimetic ecosystems. Very often there are rich architectural traditions that work with, and are not against nature. Many of the principles appear to have been forgotten over time. In the Glass House at the National Botanic Garden of Wales near Carmarthen, the architect Lord Foster buried the structures in the ground to integrate them within the landscape and make passive use of the thermal mass of the soil to reduce energy demands for space heating.

Figure 2.2: Glass House at the National Botanic garden of Wales

Source: (

There are other lessons to be learnt from nature with regard to the efficiency, performance, adaptability, variety and tremendous beauty which organisms display when under close observation. Considering that nature obeys the same physical laws as man- made objects, this should be seen as encouraging making it worthwhile to study principles and mechanisms.

5. What are your key concerns as a designer interested in sustainability?

Dr. Hasim Altan, lecturer in Sustainable Environmental Design at School of Architecture of Sheffield University, claimed “My main concern is that buildings are being designed without any consideration to climate change impact and adaptation to changing climate, and therefore we will be repeating same mistakes over and over again, and will be left with a building stock still unsustainable for future generations.” Sarah Mc Cormack, MSc Teaching Assistant at Welsh School of Architecture of Cardiff University, stated her concerns as “The lack of will to make sustainable design a key priority and the lack of knowledge of most Architects to design sustainably and holistically.” Prof. Chris Tweed, BRE Chair in Sustainable Design of the Built Environment at Welsh School of Architecture of Cardiff University, expressed concern at the integration of people and the designed built environment. He believes that this integration would assist society achieve the desired/necessary environmental conditions without using excessive amounts of energy or causing irreparable damage to the environment.

Others concerned about varies topics linked to the issue of sustainability such as: the choice and the provenance of materials and the energy needed for their transport and refinement; the integration of technologies and components to use renewable energy in a satisfying way especially one that controls the impact on and potential for the appearance of the building; designers should be aware of the connectivity of all systems in nature and these should be integrated as part of the built system’s processes; designers should also beware of making excessive claims about the sustainability of their designs because ecological design is still in its infancy.

6. How do you judge the success of a building in the green age?

Some of the architects who responded to the questionnaire said that the success of indoor environment, use of low impact materials, self sufficiency and operational sustainability. Others said it is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, and also being full of beauty and delight, whilst others believe that the success of a building is all about minimal operating energy, and embodied energy, while providing optimal conditions for its occupants. The success of a building is dependent on its overall performance including its utility value, but the beauty and design is an important as its usability and function.

2.4 Data Analysis

As mentioned before, the objective of this study is to design an evaluating tool, which can be used to assess any housing development in term of sustainability. Analysing the data collected from the answers above sorts the following results:

A successful green building is one that integrates seamlessly with the natural systems in the biosphere, with minimal destructive impact on these systems and maximum positive impact.
The buildings that are currently being constructed are not even prototypes for a green age. They are only minor attempts at sustainability and this is an evident that completely new thinking of green architecture is required. Ideally, a building should be designed, constructed and operated in sustainable way.
In fact, most buildings still do not perform completely sustainable because of the way in which they are designed. Using sustainable materials, renewable energy resources, energy efficient appliances and managing the waste is not quite enough to make a building performance sustainable.
There are more and more to do in terms of environmental architecture. Today we have to tackle climate change and global warming, to improve human life and to enhance economic systems. We therefore, need to be answering our sustainability agenda by addressing environmental, social and economic factors in the architectural design to minimise the negative environmental impact of buildings.
In doing this so, we will create sustainable urban environment with sustainable communities. This can be done by creating principles of sustainable design, which can be used as a guide by architects and designers.
New urban developments, at any scale should be designed to help residents create thriving community that draws upon local resources whilst reducing its ecological footprint and environmental impacts.

In conclusion, analysing the data has led to investigate the most appropriate and effective factors that affect buildings performance in the design stage. Some of which may not seem as much important for the first time, but with deep investigation we can find the real impact of each one. Thus, the research aims to define these principles in the following chapters.

Chapter 3

3.1 Introduction

“The construction industry has a significant impact on the environment,” (Boussabaine, A. and Kirkham, R. 2004). Environmental impacts can be classified into two main categories: atmospheric and resources. Atmospheric impact includes the greenhouse effect and ozone layer depletion, whereas resource impact includes contamination of air, water and Earth. The impact of construction on the environment could take place across a wide range of its activities loosely grouped into offsite, onsite and operational activities. “Offsite activities include the mining and manufacturing of materials and components, transport of materials and components, land acquisition, project definition and design. The impact on the environment can be significant in the following areas,” (Uher, T. E. 1999):

Consumption of renewable and non-renewable resources such as minerals, water and timber for building materials and components. This may also lead to the loss of biodiversity.
Pollution of air, water and land from manufacturing and transportation.
Committing land for a new facility may lead to deforestation, loss of agricultural land, expansion of urban areas with associated transport and social problems, more demand for water, electricity and other services, and loss of biodiversity.
Decisions about project goals influence the design, construction and operation of the facility in areas of resource usage, quality of indoor environment, traffic issues, recycling, waste management, maintenance and life of the facility as well as social environment.

In environmental terms, housing accounts for about 27% of UK CO2 emissions through energy use, with all buildings contributing to around 60% in total. “Under Government plans, from 2016 all new homes will be built to a new zero carbon standard, and by 2050 the nation’s entire housing stock will be virtually zero carbon,” (Energy Saving Trust). House building in the UK is a major activity – delivering about 150,000 new houses per year with an enormous impact on human lives in almost every way (

The UK Government believes that there must be a commitment to the common good in house building and reformation for both policies and activities in the context of Building Regulations and that this commitment must look to reduce environmental impact at the same time as enhancing human health, community cohesion, quality of life, and national economics, (DEFRA). Despite all the Government policies and commitments, at present energy use in buildings continues to grow rather than lessen, with potentially devastating consequences for climate change and fossil fuel dependency. The construction sector in the UK is considered as the largest user of material resources of any sector and is also the highest producer of waste. With high-quality design, well-versed practice and authentic commitment there will be a distinguished opportunity for new housing to make a most important contribution to solving these issues. Therefore, new homes must be designed and constructed with human health in mind, carefully planning the financial costs and avoid profound impacts on the environment. To understand the meaning of well-designed and sustainable housing, there are three fundamental subjects that should be searched in detail to identify the principles of sustainable design that can protect and benefit the environment. From this point of view, the followings are the three main pillars of sustainable design:

followings are the three main pillars of sustainable design:

Figure 3.1: The three pillars of sustainable design

3.2 Environmental Issues

Environmental issues can be defined as negative aspects of human activity on the biophysical environment. The significance of environmental issues throughout society has raised its profile. It is also becoming much more recognised as a subject to study in universities and colleges around the world. The most important environmental issues currently taken into account may include climate change, pollution, environmental degradation, and resource depletion. These issues and much more others have concentrated the attention of architects and designers on the environment and they believe that additional action and superior care are required to be taken. Consequently, those involved in housing design are persuaded to respond and find out alternative and improved accommodation solutions, in which development can be undertaken in an environmentally efficient way. The need to provide additional shelters (building more houses) and infrastructure for a growing population will have further impact upon the environment and make a stronger case to search for ways to make the housing design more sustainable.

“The three main environmental problems currently facing the planet are climate change, loss of biological diversity and population,” (Langston C. & Ding G. 2001). Stuart Johnson stated: “Having an appreciation of these fundamental environmental topics is a prerequisite for effective decision making to enhance the environmental performance of our buildings,” (Johnson S. 1993).

3.2.1 Climate change

Environmental scientists define climate change generally as a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years regardless of cause. Climate change continues to be a subject of intense public and political debate. It may be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average, for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events. Climate change may be limited to a specific region, or may occur across the whole Earth. In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, climate change usually refers to changes in modern climate and generally known as global warming.

Global warming

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts temperatures will rise between 1·5-5·8°C this century. A 3°C rise in temperature will

melt the Greenland ice sheet. It may take thousands of years to melt completely but if it does, global sea levels will rise by seven metres. According to the IPCC, global sea level is likely to rise by 10-90cm over this century. Low-lying coasts will flood, affecting many human settlements, including some major cities. Some natural habitats will be lost. Many areas will have more extremely hot weather, like the unprecedented European heat wave of 2003 which caused around 30,000 heat-related deaths. The UK is also predicted to see heavier rain falls, with an increased risk of flooding.

Figure 3.2: Global average temperature 1979 – 2011.

Source: Dr Roy Spencer, NASA Scientist, (

The greenhouse effect

The natural greenhouse gases effect is to trap heat emitted from the Earth’s surface, keeping the climate system in balance and the temperature about 30oC warmer than it would otherwise be warm enough to support life. The main greenhouse gases that affect the planet are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapour. The amounts of these greenhouse gases in our atmosphere have been increased by human activities especially burning fossil fuels like coal and oil, industrial process, waste disposal and treatment, agricultural, and residential and commercial developments. This is throwing the climate system out of balance and causing global warming. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased from about 280 ppm in the mid 18th century – the start of the industrial revolution – to around 379 ppm today.

Figure 3.3: Global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions broken down into 8 different sectors for the year 2000. Source: IPCC

There is a danger that if societies do not considerably control emissions this century we will reach a point when, even if we stop all emissions, the Earth will continue to warm. One of the solutions is to reduce all the carbon dioxide emitted from housing sector and this could start form the housing design stage. This method of reducing emissions to the atmosphere is called sustainable housing and is now being carefully considered in the UK, especially by architects and designers who are responsible for all buildings design.

On the other hand, “Carbon dioxide is good for the environment,” (Carlisle J. 2001). in fact, far from being a poisonous gas that will cause destruction on the planet’s ecosystem, carbon dioxide is arguably the Earth’s best friend in that trees, wheat, peanuts, flowers, cotton and numerous other plants significantly benefit from increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide does not just make a plant bigger, but also makes plants more resistant to extreme weather conditions. Another benefit of enhanced atmospheric carbon dioxide is that it helps the tropical rainforests. Consequently, it is very important to keep the climate system in balance with all its greenhouse gases.

3.2.2 Loss of Biological Diversity

Biodiversity is the grade of variation of life forms within a specified ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the ecosystem health, and this means greater biodiversity implies greater health. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. Biological diversity or biodiversity is a term we use to describe the variety of life on Earth. It refers to the wide variety of ecosystems and living organisms: animals, plants, their habitats and their genes. Biological diversity can have many interpretations. It is most commonly used to replace the more clearly defined and long established terms ‘species diversity’. Biologists most often define biodiversity as the entirety of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region. This definition has an advantage, which is that it seems to describe most circumstances and presents a unified view of the traditional three levels at which biological variety has been identified:

Species diversity.
Ecosystem diversity.
Genetic diversity.

Biodiversity supports ecosystem services including air quality, climate (e.g. sequestration of CO2), water purification, pollination, and prevention of erosion. Biodiversity’s relevance to human health is becoming an international political issue, as scientific evidence builds on the global health implications of biodiversity loss. This issue is closely linked with the issue of climate change, as many of the anticipated health risks of climate change are associated with changes in biodiversity (e.g. changes in populations and distribution of disease vectors, scarcity of fresh water, impacts on agricultural biodiversity and food resources etc.). Due to human activity the world’s biodiversity continues to diminish at an increasing alarming rate, in Britain alone, over 100 species have been lost since 1900.

While it has been acknowledged at various levels that the target to halt biodiversity loss by 2010 has not been met, setting the target has certainly increased public awareness. Over the past 10 years, both policies addressing biodiversity loss and indicators assessing progress have been improved significantly. Biodiversity policies promote the protection, conservation, and sustainable use of biologically diverse ecosystems and habitats. In doing so, they create significant public benefits and contribute to social well-being. However, the implementation of biodiversity policies will often benefit different groups to a greater or lesser degree. At times, some groups in society lose out under certain policies. For example, in establishing a proper right to facilitate the management of a biodiversity-related resource, people who previously had unrestricted use will be adversely affected.

Figure 3.4: Status of Biodiversity Action Plan priority species and habitats in the UK: 2005 Source: (DEFRA).


Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees on a massive scale where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use. It is often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but the world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to agriculture or urban use. It is one of the primary reasons for global warming.

There are many causes of contemporary deforestation, and forests are cut down for many reasons, but the biggest drivers for deforestation are the corruption of government institutions, the inequitable distribution of wealth and power, population growth and overpopulation, and urbanization. Deforestation causes multiple social and environmental issues. Recently, there has been a growing recognition that immediate and short-term of deforestation jeopardise our lives on Earth. Therefore, it is imperative for us to understand the effects of deforestation on our lives and environment, and utilise the knowledge in with effective solution. First of all, deforestation contributes to an alternation of local and global climate through disruption of natural cycle.

Figure 3.5: The effects of deforestation, disruption of natural cycle.

Source: Lyrfutures08’s Weblog.

There are two types of consequences of deforestation:

Positive Consequences.
Negative Consequences.

For the positive consequences, deforestation has made possible the needs of the social groups. Forests always are in the way for residential houses, buildings and factories. Roads, which are built for trading and easier transport, may have negative impact on forests. Economically deforestation contributed much and made positive changes in the lives of humans.

There are also a lot of negative consequences, such as: exposing soil, flooding, drought, disruption of water cycle, loss of biodiversity, climate change, desertification, increased population, and irreversible environmental changes. So, there is an urgent need to prevent or at least control deforestation. There are some suggestions which should be considered.

Wildlife sanctuaries: not only save the wild animals, but also the woods and trees.
Commercial forestay plantations.
Water management: improper water management causes the deforestation. This should be controlled.
Use recycled items.
Farming practices.
Support conservative organization: support the organization through donation, money, time etc.

In conclusion, there are direct and indirect causes of deforestation. One of the major direct causes of deforestation are logging, is urbanization and construction. Not everyone recognises that construction is one of the primary causes of deforestation. Many experts have put forth convincing arguments that forests are cleared for growing population and raising building developments more than for any other reason. This issue should be kept in mind while selecting a site for new development is required.

3.2.3 Population Growth

Under the UN medium scenario, by the year 2050 human population is assumed to reach nearly 9.2 billion up from nearly 6.7 billion today. This assumption is based on the continued fertility declines that my happen today and in the future. Otherwise, world population could reach 11.9 billion by 2050 if fertility remains constant at today’s rates.

Figure 3.6: UK Population Projections.

Source: ONS (

Population is not the only force applying pressure to the environment and natural resources. As the number of people continues to increase, the environmental challenges humanity faces in this century and beyond will become harder to address. Today, the richest areas in species diversity and the most threatened by human activities are occupied by billions of people, who are increasing at a collective rate of 1.8% annually. Based on this trend, the planet’s major renewable natural resources are strained and the atmosphere has been dramatically altered. It is clear that the 21st century will witness even greater damage to the environment unless urgent solutions to be taken place.

Most academic efforts study the environmental impact of population growth focus on the global scale. More than 98 percent of the world’s population growth is occurring in developing countries. Countries in Europe, along with Russia and Japan, have shrinking populations because births are not keeping pace with deaths. Despite wide recognition of population growth in the UK and its ecological consequences, there is no universally accepted estimate of how many people the nation can accommodate. The number of people the UK can hold is ultimately a question of balancing quality and quantity. It is a choice based on values rather than a formula, but so does the way those people choose to live and how they are governed.

The Office of National Statistics ONS suggests that England will soon become the most crowded place in Europe. Forecasts suggest that the population of the UK will increase by 33 per cent in the next 50 years as it becomes the most crowded country in Europe. It is estimated that 23,000 such rental properties are needed yearly, between 2008 and 2011, to meet minimum housing requirements and bring stability to the housing market, (Brierley, W. 2006). Using a simple calculation, if assumed that the average members of each family is 4 people and according to the ONS suggestion, so the population of the UK will increase by 20,130,000 people (33% ?61,000,000) – the estimate UK population in 2010- then an additional 5,032,500 properties should be built in the next 50 years. This means that 100,650 such new properties are needed yearly. There are many other factors must be taken into account when putting strategies for future housing including; demolish some of the existing old housing stock; major developments that need clean up some existing houses such as Heathrow airport expansion and the 2012 Olympic Village; and the influx of immigrants. James Slack had wrote in October 2007 an article in the Daily Mail news paper said that “At least 95,000 houses to be built every year until 2020 to cope with the record influx of immigrants, an increase of 30% on the latest Government estimate,” (Slack J. 2007).

According to these factors, the UK Government has put a plan to build 3,000,000 properties until 2030. This reflects two things, first one is that the Government has considered the above factors and put a new housing strategy to cope with the needs of new homes in the future, and the second one is the huge responsibility of architects and designers to manage and protect the environment, keep society integrated and cope with the financial crises.

3.2.4 Pollution

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. In other words, Pollution is the action of environmental contamination with man-made waste. This includes mainly land, water, and air. Pollution can take various forms including chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Simply, the environment is our physical surroundings. This includes both human (man-made), social and physical (natural) features. Natural features include soil, the atmosphere, vegetation and wildlife. Human features include housing, transport and industry. Social features include things such as culture, language and political systems. Geographers are concerned about human action in the environment. Human interference with the environment causes problems such as soil erosion, global warming and acid rain. You may ask how we as individuals can have less of an impact on the environment. Our actions can help to increase and decrease the problems highlighted above. For example, turning off lights that are not being used helps reducing global warming.

Although pollution had been known to exist since people started using fire thousands of years ago, it had seen the growth of truly global proportions only since the onset of the Industrial Revolution during the 19th century.

Figure 3.7: The industrial revolution pollution.


The Industrial Revolution brought with it technological progress especially after the discovery of oil and its practically worldwide use throughout different industries. Technological progress had probably become one of the main causes of serious deterioration of natural resources. At the same time, progress of natural sciences enhances the understanding of negative effects produced by pollution on the environment. Both developed and developing countries face environmental pollution problems. There are three major types of environmental pollution:

Air pollution
Water pollution
Land contamination.

Some of the most important air pollutants are carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and airborne particles, with radioactive pollutants probably among the most destructive ones specifically when produced by nuclear explosions. Some water pollutants are: insecticides and herbicides, food processing waste, pollutants from livestock operations, VOCs, heavy metals, chemical waste and others. Some soil pollutants are: hydrocarbons, solvents and heavy metals.

Figure 3.8: Pollution Causes.

Source: ?rtebjerg et al. (2003)

Fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) are the main resources of environmental pollution. Burning of fossil fuels produces enormously high levels of air pollution and is extensively recognized as one of the most important objective areas for reduction and management of environmental pollution. Fossil fuels also considered as one of the sources of land contamination and water pollution. This is clear when oil is transported from production area to further destinations by pipelines, so any oil leak from the pipeline may occur will contaminate soil and subsequently pollutes groundwater. When oil is producing from the ocean or transported by tankers by ocean, an oil spill may occur and pollute ocean water. A very recent example was the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Along with other pollution sources, agriculture is the largest generator of ammonia emissions resulting in air pollution. Agriculture can cause water pollution and land contamination as well through chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers. Not only that, but trading activities also may be another source of pollution. For example, it is been recently noted that packaging of products sold in supermarkets and other excessive retail outlets generates large quantities of solid waste that ends up either in landfills or municipal incinerators leading to land contamination and air pollution.

The residential sector is a significant source of pollution generating solid community waste that may end up in landfill or incinerators there by leading to land contamination and air pollution. The construction industry is a major generator of pollution, where although construction activities also pollute the soil, the main areas of concern are: air, water and noise pollution, as it is responsible for around 4% of particulate emissions, more water pollution incidents than any other industry, and thousands of noise complaints every year. In spite of that, still there are so many ways to prevent or at least control pollution such as effective construction site practice. The first step is to prepare environmental risk assessments for all construction activities and materials likely to cause pollution. Specific measures can then be taken to mitigate these risks.

The UK Environment Agency and other government bodies are putting increasing pressure on construction companies to reduce pollution and conform to environmental regulations. In the past the pollution fines have been low and environmental regulations slack, and it could have been perceived as cheaper to pollute than to prevent pollution. This situation is now changing, and enforcement of environmental regulations is not only very expensive but can be irreversibly damaging to the reputation of a firm. Measures to reduce and control pollution are relatively inexpensive and cost-effective, and the construction industry needs to incorporate these into an environmental management strategy. By employing these practices, the construction industry is well positioned to clean up its act.

3.3 Sustainability

The word sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere. Sustainability is a concept which deals with mankind’s impact, through development, on the environment. “Sustainability is not a point we reach, but a journey we take” (Langston C. & Dink G. 2001). Dictionaries provide more than ten meanings for sustain, the main ones being to ‘maintain’, ‘support’, or ‘endure’. Sustainability is about environmental protection, sustained economic growth and social equity. Sustainability does not require a loss in the quality of life, but does require a change in mind-set, a change in values towards less consumptive lifestyle. These changes must embrace global interdependence, environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic viability.

3.3.1 Definition

Sustainability provides a framework under which communities can use resources efficiently, create efficient infrastructures, protect and enhance quality of life, and create new businesses to strengthen their economies. It can help us create healthy communities that can sustain our generation. Sustainability is not a new concept. In fact, it is the latest expression of a long-standing ethic involving people’s relationships with the environment and the current generation’s responsibilities to future generations. For a community to be truly sustainable, it must adopt a threesome approach that considers economic, environmental and cultural resources. Communities must consider these needs in the short term as well as the long term. To find out what sustainability exactly mean, it is important to have a look at several definitions of sustainability as are listed below:

“Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development).
“The earth belongs to each generation during its course, fully and in its own right, no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.” (Thomas Jefferson, September 6, 1789).
“Sustainability refers to the ability of a society, ecosystem, or any such ongoing system to continue functioning into the indefinite future without being forced into decline through exhaustion of key resources.” (Gilman, R., President of Context Institute).
“Sustainable development focuses on improving the quality of life for all of the Earth’s citizens without increasing the use of natural resources, beyond the capacity of the environment to supply them indefinitely” (Langston, G. A. and Ding, G. K. 2001)
“Sustainability is the emerging doctrine that economic growth and development must take place, and be maintained over time, within the limits set by ecology in the broadest sense – by the interrelations of human beings and their works, the biosphere and the physical and chemical laws that govern it. It follows that environmental protection and economic development are complementary rather than antagonistic processes.” (Ruckelshaus, W. D. “Toward a Sustainable World,” Scientific American, September 1989).
“Sustainability is an economic state where the demands placed upon the environment by people and commerce can be met without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for future generations. It can also be expressed in the simple terms of an economic golden rule for the restorative economy: Leave the world better than you found it, take no more than you need, try not to harm life or the environment, make amends if you do.” (Hawken, P. “The Ecology of Commerce”, 1993).

Sustainability clearly is a strategy by which communities seek economic development approaches that also benefit the local environment and quality of life. It has become an important guide to many communities that have discovered that traditional approaches to planning and development are creating. Sustainability does not require a loss in the quality of life, but does require a change in mind – set, a change in values toward less consumptive lifestyle. These changes must embrace global interdependence, environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic viability.

With regard to architectural design, sustainability may mean that housing design will have to look at and learn from the traditional architectural responses to climate of the past.

3.3.2 History of sustainability

The first establishment of a national policy for environmental sustainability came in the US in 1969 with the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) whose purpose was to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony and fulfil the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations, (U.S. EPA), In 1972, the first international conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm by the UN. Both the developed and developing countries attended the conference to discuss the right of all humans to a healthy and productive environment. The conference resulted in an action plan with detailed recommendations to national governments on how to influence human impact on the environment. Then the UNEP was developed and located in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1983 the Brundtland Commission was convened by the UN. It is formally known as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). The Brundtland Commission’s work provided the basis for the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, also known as the Earth Summit, an unprecedented international meeting of delegations from 178 countries and representatives of more than 1,000 NGOs. Its purpose was to develop a global consensus on measures needed to balance development pressures against an increasingly imperilled global environment.

In 1992, a full text of Agenda 21 was revealed as an outcome of the UNCED held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, where 178 governments voted to adopt the programme. It covers topics on virtually everything regarded important for a sustainable future. A special session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the Earth Summit + 5, was held in 1997 to review and appraise the implementation of Agenda 21. The special session of UNGA took stock of how well countries, international organizations, and sectors of civil society have responded to the challenge of the Earth Summit.

In December 1997, a historic agreement was adopted in Kyoto, Japan by more than 150 nations and known as the Kyoto Protocol or the Kyoto Climate Agreement to protect the Earth’s atmosphere and climate. It was opened on 16 March 1998 for signature by parties to UNFCCC, setting targets for industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 5% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. In 1992 the Protocol was opened for signature at Rio de Janeiro and entered into force on 16 February 2005 after two conditions have been fulfilled:

It had been ratified by at least 55 countries.
It had been ratified by nations accounting for at least 55% of emissions from what the Treaty calls “Annex 1” countries. See figure 2, 9.

As of November 2009, 187 states have signed and ratified the Protocol. Five years later, exactly in 2002, the Earth summit + 10, was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. It brought together ten of thousand of participants, including heads of State and Government, national delegates and leaders from NGOs, businesses and major groups. The Johannesburg Summit presented an opportunity for the participants to focus the world’s attention and direct action toward meeting difficult challenges, such as: improving people’s lives and conserving the natural resources. The Summit resulted an opportunity for the Leaders to adopt concrete steps and identify quantifiable targets for better implementing Agenda 21.

Signed and ratified

Signed, ratification pending

Signed, ratification declined

No position

Figure 3.9: Kyoto Protocol participation map 2005

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

In December 2009, the environment ministers and officials were met in Copenhagen for the UN climate conference to trace out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. The Copenhagen conference resulted in a document called the Copenhagen Accord. The positive side of the conference was that the Copenhagen Accord, for the first time, unites the US, China and other major developing and industrialised countries in one effort to control global GHG emissions. On the other hand, the summit did not result in a legally obligatory deal or any commitment to real one in the future.

3.3.3 Sustainability in Practice

Sustainability has become one of the biggest challenges we face in the 21st century, so practicing sustainability is a comprehensive experience for people to learn about sustainability problems and discover some of the solutions. People should explore and get knowledge about shelter, water, waste, energy pollution and biodiversity. Professor Susan Buckingham from Brunel University stated “I will certainly be keen to use sustainability in practice in my teaching on education and sustainable development and feel it is a most useful addition to the literature. It gives higher education institutions, and people working and studying in them, useful strategies for becoming more environmentally sustainable.” (Corrigan N., Sayce S. and Taylor R. 2009)

Sustainability has to be integrated to the education, from compulsory to higher education, as students should now consider the current and future impact of their operational activities on the environment. Education is the key to developing the concept of sustainability among people in order to support a sustainable environment. Each individual must be responsible for his/her own actions and understand how these actions affect the environment. If people are not even aware of issues surrounding the environment, they cannot be expected to take the environmental impact of their behaviour seriously.

The U.K. government proposed that every school should not only teach the importance of respecting the environment, but should also operate a practical working sustainable policy. Sustainability is taught across the national curriculum and can fit into the teaching requirements of any subject. The governments, local authorities, broadcasting companies and the media all have a valuable role to play in the continuing education of the public regarding sustainable issues.

“In 2008, the UK Government published a strategy for sustainable construction which reflected the industry’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and consumption of natural resources, whilst maintaining a strong construction. The initiative was within the wider context of concern for global warming and climate change, which has led to UK national targets for reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 34% from 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80% by 2050.” (Lyons, A. 2010)

However hard the UN, EU and UK Governments push for the implementation of environmentally sustainable policies, the communication and application of information on sustainability cannot occur at any point along the line without the co-operation of environmentally aware individuals. At a global level, sustainability is a complex issue and is difficult to determine accurately for any resources. A firm grounding in environmental issues from an early age will be essential to providing a community of responsible and aware adults, capable of taking the UK and world towards a safer and healthier environment.

Whether in usual life or work, the gap between awareness and action is often the biggest challenge facing governments, organisations and individuals in implementing sustainability. In brief words:

Sustainability boils down to this: do not eat your seed corn.
Sustainability highlights the need to build life systems that can supply the present without compromising the future.
Sustainability is about people, how to foster a robust workforce and strong communities.
Sustainability addresses innovation, how to spark it, nurture it and protect it.
Sustainability can be a lens to focus on values and personal commitment on the built environment and markets.
Sustainability is about natural resources, how to use them, renew them and account for environmental capital.
Sustainability is also about buildings, how to design, construct and operate them to reduce their impact upon the environment.
Sustainability is about built environment, how could be healthier and more productive.
Sustainability can be the power of strong economy.

3.4 Architecture

Architecture is the art and science of design and construction of buildings to cover the human needs of its human such as housing, by using materials and construction appropriate methods. Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and constructing form, space and ambience that reflect functional, technical, social, and aesthetic considerations. It requires the creative manipulation and coordination of material, technology, light and shadow. Architecture also encompasses the pragmatic aspects of realizing buildings and structures, including scheduling, cost estimating and construction administration.

The diagram in figure (3.10) shows that effective architecture is about creation a fresh approach provides an all inclusive planning, design, structure, professionals with best practice and good imagination adapted to the individuals needs. The result of that came out as a complete understanding of human functional and non-functional requirements and aspirations, which was a measurement for a successful architecture.

Figure 3.10: Standards of architecture and requirements.

Up to this stage, the operation of success architecture is not completed unless environmental requirements are adopted. Since antiquity, human beings have reacted to the surrounding environment, using their abilities to develop techniques and technologies in such internal psychological balance with nature that humanity historically lived attuned to the environment. “Learning to manipulate clay, stone, marble, and wood, man penetrated their properties, and his techniques gave expression to his aspirations toward the divine. In architecture, environmental harmony was known to the Chinese, the Indians, the Greeks, and others. It produced the temples of Karnack, the great mosques of Islam, and the cathedral of Chartres in France,” (Fathy H. 1994).

Buildings are a major consumer of energy in both their construction and operation and they are a significant cause of the environmental problems. “Architecture needs to be located in an environmental, historical and cultural context. Our environmental context is one of rampant energy consumption, dwelling fossil fuels and global warming,” (Thomas R. & Garnham T. 2007). Through more sustainable design, it will be possible to create an architecture, which contributes more positively to the planet and our lives. In general, this means to control the environmental impact of a building; in particular, its CO2 emissions by adopting a sustainable overall design, which includes site planning, interior design, form, materials, construction, type of structure, building systems, natural resources and operation. Randall Thomas and Trevor Garnham stated in their book The Environment of Architecture “To succeed in developing a new architecture a deeper understanding of science, history and culture than is evident at present will be required.” And they clear “Architecture needs to combine the understanding of the relationship between past and present that literature.” (Thomas, R. and Garnham, T. 2007).

The most important and crucial question to the architects, who deal with the architecture and environmental design is that ‘What is the relationship between architecture and environment in the context of sustainable design?’ Architects are usually taught how to consider the impacts of the environment on their buildings, but now they have to make an enormous effort, while designing their buildings, to respect and protect the environment.

3.4.1 Background

“For over 80 years, UK governments of all persuasions have believed that it is essential to get independent advice on proposals for significant new buildings and spaces. The Royal Fine Art Commission (RFAC), established in 1924, influenced the quality of much of the architecture of the 20th century. Many weak designs stayed on the drawing board as a result of its reviews, and what has been built is better than it would otherwise have been,” CABE 2011). Architecture is an ancient and necessary art, thus the beginnings of architecture are part of prehistory, the period before the development of written language. Therefore, a deep understanding of art, history and culture would help to succeed in developing a new architecture. Architectural design is about the future, but it needs to combine the understanding between the past and present.

“Architecture establishes strategic regarding the design of buildings and their relationship with and impact on the environment,” (Johnson S. 1993). According to the strategies, the UK Government believes that, whenever possible, planning decisions should be made at the local level, so councils have the freedom to make their own planning decisions in the best interest of the local area. This planning system will be described clearly in the chapter of the case study.

3.4.2 Architectural Issues

Architectural issues mean any matter, concern, question, topic, proposition or situation that demands a design response in order for a building project to be successful for its users and surrounded environment. These issues are matters that make difference in architectural design and a concern that requires the designers to take action and make decisions to improve their design in a sustainable way. “In architecture, some of the genetic issues are circulation, safety, territoriality, privacy, image, energy use, flexibility and visibility.” (Duerk D. P. 1993)

There are some facts such as site, climate and code requirements that the architectural design must perform. These facts are not part of the architectural issues, but might be major factors in shaping a design. For example, the visual qualities of the site (facts) may require an image (issues) response and the climate (facts) may require an energy efficiency (issues) response. Another example about the integrated relationship between the architectural issues and facts is that if energy conservation is a required issue in such a design, it is necessary to know the facts of prevailing wind direction and path of the sun. If so, architects and designers must make decisions about day lighting, insulation, ventilation and all aspects that will create solutions that are energy efficient.

Understanding the architectural issues and facts will lead to sustainable architectural solutions, which are concepts or potential solutions to the concerns raised by those issues and facts. All design solutions are physical forms that have the attributes of dimension, direction, transparency, colour, texture and that create size, shape, location, interior and orientation. For example, a roof form of a house building could be a design response of a need for natural day lighting or a requirement for an imposing image.

There are a number of fundamental important architectural issues, facts and solutions that affect the environment both in and around a building which need to be considered in the development of any design and could be known as principles of sustainable design Consequently, these principles will be examined in Chapter (5) and they can be summarised as follows:

Site selecting.
Project design and planning
The building envelope.
The interior design.
Choosing appropriate structure.
Building systems.
The characteristics of materials.
Natural light.
Air tightness and ventilation.

Chapter 4

Homes currently account for 27 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions, contributing to global climate change. “Buildings account either directly or indirectly for approximately 44% of the UK’s carbon emissions, (27% from homes and 17% from non-domestic building)” (Lyons, A. 2011) The way in which homes have been designed, constructed, lighted, heated and used all contribute to this. Even small improvements to the energy performance and the way we use our homes could have a significant effect on our fuel bills and carbon emissions.

Increasingly, there is requirement for a sustainable homes assessment. The new Building Regulation revisions (part F, J, and L) are introduced on 1st October 2010. Amongst many changes is the next step in the move towards zero carbon developments, with part L Target Emissions Ratings (TERs), moving to approximately 25% less than under previous regulations for both domestic and non-domestic properties. ( The aim of this review to the following standards is to highlight the exits environmental assessment methods in order to find out what else can be done to improve buildings performance. There are a number of environmental assessment tools currently available for monitoring building performance including:

4.1 EPC

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) has been introduced to help improve the energy efficiency of all buildings – including homes. The certificate records how energy efficient a property is as a building, and provides A-G ratings. They are produced using standard methods and assumptions about energy usage so that the energy efficiency of one building can easily be compared with another building of the same type. This allows prospective buyers, tenants, owners, occupiers and purchasers to see information on the energy efficiency and carbon emissions from their building so they can consider energy efficiency and fuel costs as part of their investment. “An EPC is always accompanied by a recommendation report that lists cost effective and other measures (such as low and zero carbon generating systems) to improve the energy rating.” ( A rating is also given showing what could be achieved if all the recommendations were implemented. It gives advice in ways to improve the house’s energy efficiency and environmental impact. The inspection of EPC includes:

Type of construction and its energy impact.
Amount of insulation present.
Windows and doors.
Air tightness and heating and ventilation systems.

Figure 4.1: Sample of EPC

Source: East Energy Services (

4.2 SAP

The Governments Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for energy rating of dwellings. SAP was designed to be included in the 1995 Building Regulations. All new-build dwelling must be built to accord with the UK Building Regulations 2000 Parts L1A for new dwellings. This is the procedure which checks and controls this from architects plan and it is now a compulsory component, so every new house has to have a SAP rating. SAP calculations are required for all new dwellings as well as those that have been created as the result of material changes of use involving building work, and extensions over a certain size. “Since April 2008 in England and Wales when a new building is completed and is due to be signed off by Building Control (either as a new build or a conversion) it must have an ‘As Built’ SAP calculation and an ‘As Built’ (sometimes called ‘On Construction’) EPC produced.” (

Figure 4.2: Sample of the energy performance certificate.

Source: (

The energy balance calculation takes into account arrange of factors that influence energy efficiency. They are:

Materials used for construction of the dwelling.
Thermal insulation characteristics of the dwelling and ventilation equipment.
Efficiency and control of the heating system.
Solar gains through the openings of dwelling.
The fuel and power used to provide space and water heating, ventilation and lighting.
District heating services providing heat and hot water to the dwelling.
Some types of renewable energy systems insulated in or on the dwelling.

The current SAP specification includes the calculation of various indicators of energy performance. They are:

Energy consumption per unit floor area.
Energy cost rating (the SAP rating).
Environmental impact rating (based on CO2 emissions).
Dwelling CO2emission rate (DER), and
Targets CO2 emission rate (TER) to test compliance with building regulations.

Three of the indicators of performance (energy consumption per unit floor area, SAP rating and environmental impact rating) are needed to produce Energy Performance Certificate. The energy cost (the SAP rating) and the environmental impact rating have been mapped on to appear on an Energy Performance Certificate shown in figure (4.2).


Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is the leading and possibly the most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe a building’s environmental performance. By using this method, architects and design team improve their own experience and knowledge of environmental aspects of sustainability and then present their design as much as sustainable to improve the performance of buildings.

The BREEAM assessment process was created in 1990 with the first two versions covering offices and homes. “Versions are updated regularly in line with the UK Building Regulations and different building versions have been created since it is launched to assess various building types.” (UNEP) These versions essentially look at the same broad range of environmental impacts which are:

Health and wellbeing.
Land use and Ecology.

Figure 4.3: Sample of BREEAM award

Source: (

4.4 CSH

The Code for Sustainable Homes is the newest tool provides a comprehensive measure of the sustainability of new homes. It is a national standard for use in the design and construction of new homes with a view to encouraging continuous improvement in sustainable home building. “It was introduced and became operational in England in April 2007 following extensive consultation with environmental groups and the home building and wider construction industries.” (Communities and Local Government, 2008) A code rating for new build homes became mandatory from 1st May 2008. Also from 1st May 2008, a minimum of Code Level 3 is required for all new housing promoted or supported by the WAG or their sponsored bodies and also for all new build social housing. Since 2nd June 2008 Code Level 3 was required for all new self-contained social housing in Northern Ireland, but the Code does not apply in Scotland.

The Code for sustainable Homes is essentially a way of benchmarking the environmental and sustainable credentials of residential development. Since September 2009, any development of 5 or more dwellings in Wales must achieve Code Level 3 (+6 credits under the ENE1 issues). From 1st September 2010, all applications for any number of dwellings must achieve Code Level 3 (+6 credits under ENE1 issues).

The Code measures the sustainability of a home against nine design categories, rating the whole home as a complete package. The design categories are:

Energy and CO2 emissions.
Surface water run-off.
Heat and wellbeing.

Each category includes a number of environmental issues, as shown in the table below, which have a potential impact on the environment. The issues can be assessed against a performance target and awarded one or more credits. The Code uses a sustainability rating system, indicated by stars, to communicate the overall sustainability performance of a home. A home can achieve a sustainability rating from one star (?) to six stars (??????) depending on the extent to which it has achieved Code standards. One star (?) is the entry level – above the level of the Building Regulations; and six stars (??????) is the highest level – reflecting exemplar development in sustainability terms.

Energy and CO2 emissionsDwelling emission rate (M)

Building Fabric

Internal lighting

Drying space

Energy labelled white goods

External lighting

Low or zero carbon (LZC) technologies

Cycle storage

Home officeWaterInternal water use (M)

External water useMaterialsEnvironmental impact of materials (M)

Responsible sourcing of materials – building elements

Responsible sourcing of materials – finishing elementsSurface water run – offManagement of surface water run – off from developments (M) flood riskWasteStorage of non-recyclable waste and recyclable household waste (M)

Construction waste management (M)

CompostingPollutionGlobal warming potential (GWP) of insulants NOx emissionsHealth and DwellingDaylight

Sound insulation

Private space

Lifetime homes (M)ManagementHome user guide

Considerate constructors scheme

Construction site impacts

SecurityEcologyEcological value of site

Ecological enhancement

Protection of ecological features

Change of ecological value of site

Building footprint

(M) Denotes issues with mandatory elements

Figure 4.4: Table of summary of environmental impacts categories and issues

Source: The Code of Sustainable Homes.

The Code for Sustainable Homes has been developed using the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) Eco-Homes System, which has already achieved success in reducing the impact of affordable housing projects, in particular within the social housing sector. The Code builds upon Eco-Homes in a number of ways, for example:

The Code introduces minimum standards for energy and water efficiency at level of the Code, therefore requiring high levels of sustainability performance in these areas for achievement of a high Code rating;
The Code uses a simpler system of awarding points, with more complex weightings removed;
The Code includes new areas of sustainability design, such as Lifetime Homes and inclusion of composting facilities.

Figure 4.5: Sample of Final Code Certificate.

Source: The Code of Sustainable Homes

Assessment procedures will be transparent and technically rigorous, at the same time straightforward and beneficial to all parties. The method will be similar to or based on BRE’s Eco-Homes System which depends on a network of specially trained and accredited independent assessors. BRE will retrain and accredit assessors for the new Code. Code assessors will conduct initial design stage assessments, recommend a sustainability rating, and issue an interim Code certificate. The final Code certificate of compliance will be issued after a post completion check to verify the rating has taken place. A design stage assessment will only need to be carried out on each home type within any development – not every single home.

The assessment process should proceed in a logical order through the environmental impact categories and issues, summarised in figure bellow.

It should being with a check that the four mandatory issues for which no credits are awarded have been achieved.
The mandatory credits for CO2 emissions and for internal water use should be checked and confirmed at the minimum values required to meet the Code level sought
The remaining tradable credits should be checked and confirmed so that they too contribute to the required Code level.
Total percentage points score

(equal to or greater than)Code Levels36 PointsLevel 1 (?)48 PointsLevel 2 (??)57 PointsLevel 3 (???)68 PointsLevel 4 (????)84 PointsLevel 5 (?????)90 PointsLevel 6 (??????)

Figure 4.6: Summarises the process of arriving at a total percentage points score and converting that to a Code level.

Source: The Code of Sustainable Homes.

Chapter 5

5.1 Introduction

What is sustainable design and how can be implementedThis is a pressing question that all architects and designers must inescapably confront today. By the end of this chapter we will have the appropriate answer to this vital question. The result will be a creation of principles of sustainable design, which can be used by architects as an assessment method to their design. Sustainable design is one of the modern trends in architectural thinking, which focuses on the relationship between buildings and the environment. There are many concepts and definitions developed in this context. Ken Yeang, a Malaysian architect and writer best known for developing environmental design solutions, believes that sustainable architecture must meet the needs of the present without losing the right of next generations to meet their needs as well. According to William Reed, a specialist in green architecture, green building, which is designed sustainably, is only a building that designed, implemented and managed in manner, which puts the environment in mind. He also thought that one of the concerns of green buildings is to reduce the impact of buildings on the environment as well as reduce its cost.

A good building design, in particular housing design, is crucial in delivering sustainable life, which means good design should contribute positively to making places better for people by improving public health, easing transport problems and increasing property values. In addition, design quality should be taken seriously to demonstrate benefit to society, environment and promoting excellence in profession. Sustainable design creates solutions that solve the economic, social, and environmental challenges of the project simultaneously, and these solutions are powered by sustainable energies. “The combined beauty and function of the design make it something that endures and is cherished; endurance and beauty are central to sustainable thinking. Sustainable design fundamentally seeks to reduce negative impacts on the environment, and the health and comfort of building occupants, so improving building performance.” (Williams D. E. 2007). The basic objectives of sustainability are to reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, minimize waste, and create healthy, productive environments. The key to sustainable design is to create principles of home design as a package of features that work optimally together to provide sustainable homes.

5.2 Background

The world began to recognise the close link between economic development and the environment, so specialists have alerted that the traditional forms of economic have been developed over exploitation of natural resources and at the same time cause a big strain on the environment as a result of what is produced of contaminant and harmful residues.

In the last decades, most of countries have paid more attention to the environmental protection and sustainable development after specialists called to reduce the environmental impacts caused by various human activities and called for reducing waste and pollutants and the preservation of natural resources for next generations. As a result, the construction sector is no longer in isolation from the pressing of environmental issues that began to threaten the world. On the one hand, construction sector is a major consumer of natural resources such as; land, water and energy. On the other hand, building operations and construction industry result in large amount of noise, pollution and solid waste, but the waste of energy and water still been considered as a main environmental and economic problem that facing the globe.

For these reasons, and as a result of growing public awareness about the environmental impacts associated with construction activities, many specialists have noted that the big challenge facing construction sector at this time is in its ability to fulfil its obligations and perform its development role towards the achievement of a comprehensive concepts of sustainable development. Moreover, others who concern about environment added that the environmental management in construction projects will be one of the most important competitive standards in the twenty-first century. Consequently, industrial countries developed new concepts and methods in the design and construction, which are not familiar with before such as; sustainable design, green architecture, and sustainable buildings.

Those concepts all of which reflected the growing interest of construction sector in urban economic development issues integral with the protection of environment, reducing energy consumption, optimal utilisation of natural resources and more reliance on renewable energy resources. Sustainable design, green architecture, sustainable construction and sustainable building, all these are new concepts and methods of design and construction conjures environmental and economic challenges. New buildings, which are designed, constructed and operated through developed methods and technologies contribute to reducing environmental impacts and at the same time lead to lower costs, in particular operating and maintenance costs (Running Costs). They also contribute in providing a safe and comfortable physical environment. Thus, the motivation that adopt the concept of sustainability in the urban sector do not differ from the motives that led to the emergence and adoption of sustainable development concepts with its integrated three dimensions; environment, economy, and society.

5.3 Advantages of SD

Sustainable design has a number of advantages:

Improved comfort and healthy: an energy efficient building envelope reduces temperature fluctuations.
Reliability: homes can be sustainably designed to continue functioning even during blackouts.
Security and improve finance: a home that produces energy protects its owner from fluctuations in energy prices.
Improve social relations: creating sustainable communities can enhance relationships.
Environmental sustainability: sustainable homes save energy and reduce construction and operation waste and pollution.

The fourth point is the main subject has been searched in this study as the world is currently facing an environmental crisis. Therefore, anyone interested in zero carbon homes and sustainable housing design has the potential significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globe. In the last 20 years, the concept of sustainable design has come to the forefront and there was an improved thinking that design comes before technology and renewable technology alone cannot solve the problems we face. This concept recognizes that human civilization is part of nature that must be preserved and perpetuated. To achieve sustainable design, architects and designers should focus on five core areas; a compact shape, continuous insulation and elimination of thermal breaks, passive solar gain, and air circulation with heat recovery and air leak prevention. This idea could be clarified by sustainable design through the development of principles of sustainable design and promoting their application in our daily lives.

5.4 Principles of SD

The enthusiasm today to the green architecture and sustainable buildings has assets associated with the energy crisis in the seventies. At that time, architects began to think and wonder about the wisdom of creating buildings formed as boxes, structured by steel, surrounded by glass and require enormous and expensive heating and cooling systems. Thus, enthusiasm architects proposed architecture with more energy efficiency. Some of these progressive thinkers architects such as; William McDonough, Bruce Bean and Robert Fox of the USA, Thomas Herzog of Germany, and Norman Foster and Richard Rogers of Britain have begun to search and develop architectural design, which focused on long-term environmental impacts during the construction, operation and maintenance phase of buildings and that what is known now the sustainable design. To ensure a good performance of a building, the following principles shown in figure (5.15), which are the result of this study, should be examined during the planning and design stage. Architects have to consider these principles as a guide to achieve sustainable design.

All the assessment procedures that have been investigated in Chapter (4) are introduced to help assessing building performance after being built and operated. Consequently, it is difficult to solve all problems and design mistakes that might be found in order to improve the building performance and then reduce the negative impacts on the environment. These procedures might help in some ways but not always, as it is difficult to change or improve some aspects of the project development such as; site, structure, project planning and units design. Therefore, it is important to find principles for sustainable design that can be used by architects and designers as a premier assessment for their design and planning of any development.

5.4.1 Site Selection

Choosing a land as a site proposal for any development is one of the most important challenges facing those who are in responsibility of housing development. Site investigation made concurrent with the formulation of programme objectives ensures the flexibility of the

site’s potential and the integration of its natural and cultural features with the design. “To develop the best possible site for accommodating project objectives, a programme must be carefully prepared. Because the programmes develop from specific needs, these needs determine the overall objectives.” (Rubenstein H. M. 1996)

Figure 5.1: Practicing site planning.

On large projects such as housing development, site selection may require a detailed feasibility analysis of potential sites. All those who contribute to integrated design of housing development must take into consideration the features, facilities and characteristics of the proposal site from the viewpoint of society, economy and environment. “A site’s context is a function of many different physical, biological and cultural attributes,” (LaGro, J. A. 2001). These include adjacent land uses, access to public infrastructure, access to near communities, cost of land and construction, biodiversity (animals and plants), microclimate and ecological patterns and process. Site planning and design needs to be implemented within a biophysical and social context to accommodate human needs and aspiration.

Figure 5.2: Sun path diagram.

Source: (Neufert E. 2000

Sustainable site design requires holistic, ecologically based strategies to create projects that do not alter or impair, but instead help repair and restore existing site systems. Site systems such as plant and animal communities, soils, and hydrology must be respected as patterns and processes of the living world. Location is the most important criteria in selecting a site, but what are the factors that make one location more valuable than otherSome of the more substantial factors are listed below:

Site context: looking outward to the site context will help to understand and evaluate the sit requirements that may highlight its impacts on the environment and society.
Natural landscape: development should be integrated to the native landscape of the site to provide connection to adjacent habitats.
Protection of biodiversity: sustaining site design will protect local plants and animals communities.
Solar access: it is crucial to consider the solar access when choosing a site as solar energy is vital a component of sustainable homes.
Amenities: does the site have the following amenities; privacy, woods, lake, ocean or river frontage etc.
Utilities and services: availability of utilities such as water, electricity, telephone, gas, cable TV, can be an important factor in the cost of housing development.
Microclimates: Climate can vary dramatically from one location to another within a state, a region, and even a neighbourhood. Some microclimates may be suitable for self-sufficiency; others may make it difficult to live on renewable energy.
Drainage: good drainage is important to prevent moisture problems in the future, which is becoming a major issue of concern as it can seep into walls through the foundation and that will increase construction costs.
Soil: stable subsoil minimise the risk of foundation and walls cracks. So, it is important to be sure that the site selected is in an area with stable subsoil.
Building resources: land can provide many building materials such as clay, wood and stones. Any site provides material can be used in housing construction will reduce the energy required to build a house.

Prior to make a final decision about the proposal site it is essential to contact a thorough survey to ascertain whether the site characteristics suit the development concept. Therefore, a visit to the proposal site for a detailed study is very important for the designer preliminary to any planning. “The reality of a site is often quite different from the impression given by drawings supplied. This can particularly true in relation to scale and the three dimensional nature of the site,” (Illingworth J. R. 2000).

5.4.2 Project Design

Housing project design deals with the process and outcomes of the project. The project design should focus on affordable housing, regeneration, housing quality, issues cost and sustainability of environments. Project design requires creating a programme, which means to study elements and components of the project. Project design first requires meeting, combination, analysing information and planning with enough objectivity and detail to support a programme design that makes best use of resources to achieve desired results.

Then programme is the first step that an architect or a designer should make to gather and analyse all of the information necessary to create project design. The programme differs according to the project type and its components depending on the quality of the project and its purpose. For example, the programme components of industrial project consist of workshops for manufacturing, maintenance and processing, storage, parking area, management offices, restaurant and toilets. While a programme elements of housing project consist of residential places, living and dining rooms, bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom etc. Thus, the quality of the project and its purpose has a direct impact on the formulation of its components and elements, which imposes certain requirements that architects should study carefully and work hard bearing in mind trying to achieve the best relationship among those elements and components.

There are a lot of factors affect the project design that must considered carefully before the beginning of any development. Some of which are related to the designers and owners, whilst others deal with the building regulations, policies and site characteristics. The project design has many operational processes for designing high-quality development project that respond to those factors, which are shown in figure (5.3). Much of the success of project design is based upon ability to control every factor.

Figure 5.3: Factors impact the project design.

5.4.3 Orientation

Orientation refers to the location of a house and direction to which a house points. The orientation of the house plays an important part in ensuring such a passive works. “The correct orientation of a house can make a significant difference to the liveability and the energy costs associated with heating and cooling,” ( The ideal house orientation is that the main long axis of the building runs east – west as shown in the diagram below. “The East-West orientation can be moved as much as 20o without ill effect, but the most glass on the house must be facing towards the sun,” ( When deciding house orientation, the location of landscape features should be taken into account such as trees and walls, which impact on how the sun is harnessed and to avoid the shadow, so houses should ideally positioned as far as possible from these features. The exact amount of heat a house gets from the sun depends on the season, time of day, weather, local climate and rate of air pollution. Orientation is crucial for determining the amount of sun a house receives, because the direction and height of the sun in high Northern latitudes like Britain changes dramatically throughout the year.

Figure 5.4: House orientation


“Essentially, economic considerations led architects and building developers to seek alternatives to the conventional fossil fuel sources of energy. Today, equal emphasis is placed on the ecological necessary for change. By means of energy conscious construction, the energy requirements of living accommodation can be reduced by 50% in comparison to older buildings,” (Neufert E. 2000). The objective of studying orientation is to organise the house plan in a way to ensure desirable sunshine conditions for the various types of living spaces and this is one of the alternative ways that architects may consider when put their design. In cold and temperate climates, long rectangular buildings, with their longer walls facing the winter sun are excellent solutions in terms of energy efficiency as shown in first diagram in figure (5.5). “Well oriented home, with a proper shape and properly placed windows can cut your energy bills by 30 percent or more,” (

If there is a compulsory orientation to the East or West for a house, architects have to rearrange the house components zones and distribute them in different ways taking into account maximum winter solar gains and unwanted summer sun. Therefore, the most used areas of the house should be located on the winter side of the house, where sunlight can enter through conveniently located windows, high clerestories windows, or skylights. Other rooms and divisions, which used less and need less sun should be located on the home’s east/west and shorter sides, where they can act as an extra thermal buffer, as shown in the second and third diagram in figure (5.5).

Despite the importance of the sun, there are other factors may impact the house orientation. Those factors are; the natural beauty features such as woods, lake, ocean, and river frontage, avoid noise, achieve privacy and have clear street access. In this case, architects may take advantage of views or consider other factors, but still they must find solutions to make most of the sun for warmth and natural light, for example; increasing the size of north-facing windows, swapping rooms around and using skylights, conservatries and glass doors as architectural solutions. Predominate orientation of the winds is also crucial in the house energy needs. The prevailing winds and their patterns should be studied in order to use windbreaks and walls to direct breezes into the house or to channel cool winter winds away from it. Achieving the ideal orientation is about striking a balance between sun and these other factors.

Figure 5.5: The best orientation of the house components zones to the South, West and East.

5.4.4Interior design

The most appropriate definition of interior design is “Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment that solves the customer’s problems and links space to business strategies and goals.” (Mazarella, F. 2010) Green or sustainable interior design is a relatively new field in interior designing. Interior design is a term that is thrown around often when building a new space or just filling up a pre-existing one. “A building cannot be green on the outside without being green on the interior,” (Upton B. V. 2006).

Interior design incorporates a little bit from a lot of disciplines, including building regulations, floor plans and colour matching. So, interior designing can be defined as it is the field of arranging and designing both the interiors and/or exteriors of an area. Interior design is more than visual or ambient enhancement of the interior space. It seeks to optimise and harmonise the uses to which the built environment will be put. The point of interior design is to create a beautiful space that is practical, aesthetically pleasing, and harmonious with the surroundings. “Interior design is often described as a hybrid discipline, overlapping with other spatial or subject related practices.” (Brooker G. & Stone S. 2010)

Interior design has many things to be considered such as materials, furniture, colours, texture, fixtures, placement of items and building systems. The way these items been used has a huge impact on the environment. There are many things that interior designers are doing to be more sustainable and lower the impact on the environment. Interior designers have an important responsibility in the adoption of environmental ways of living.

In as much as the envelope of a building may enable the building to reduce the use of resources through insulation and renewable technologies, also they can affect direct behavioural change, and compliment the aspirations of a building’s architectural ambitions. Beautiful eco interiors can reflect your environmental aspirations whilst creating spaces that reduce their use of resources such as gas, water and electricity, make the most of sustainable materials, and encourage the use of recycled materials and recycling.

Interior design has five main elements: colour, texture, line, form and space. These elements should work together and complement each other to strengthen the whole composition. It is necessary for the interior designer to think of the house as a totality, in other words a series of spaces linked together by halls and stairways. It is therefore appropriate that a common style and theme runs throughout.

5.4.5Building systems

Building systems are all about how to improve the environment in and around buildings to provide better health, comfort, security and productivity. Building systems are interacting or interdependent components that comprise a building such as structural, roofing, side wall, plumbing, HVAC, water, sanitary sewer and electrical systems, figure (5.6) below shows some of the internal elements of built environment. Studying building systems might help to gain a deeper understanding of the physical performance of built environment choices and their implications for energy use, health, conservation, productivity and climate change. “In theory, it is entirely possible to design and construct a building made of totally independent components. The separate pieces of such a building could be designed in isolation, each part having an autonomous role to play.” (Bachman, L. R. 2003) In fact, architects prone to take exactly the opposite approach by considering ideas about the complete and constructed building and then working through integrated relationship between all the elements and function.

“One of the main objects of building design is to ensure the provision of continuous comfort for occupants in spite of adverse and variable external condition.” (Burberry P. 1997)

“HVAC can be considered one of the most important services in modern buildings. The major contribution of HVAC systems to the mankind is the fine control to arrive at a comfortable indoor environment for people to work and live.” (So A. T. & Chan W. L. 1999) “Buildings are enclosed environments with air distribution systems intended to make life habitable for the occupants.” (Kowalski W. J. 2003)

One of other building systems is type of houses in a housing development, which might have significant impact on the indoor and outdoor environment. Architects and planners always have to make a decision about types of houses considering healthy indoor environment, numbers of houses required, the cost of a house building and the maximum benefit from the outdoor environment. “Tactical decisions at the beginning of a project can have an impact for the life of the building. For example, properly sitting the building on the land is essential to the overall project and can reduce impact to the site and costs later in the project. In addition, placement of the building will affect decisions involving matters such as lighting, landscaping and access.” (Statz S., 2011)

Figure 5.6: Elements of building system

There are four main types of houses in the UK. There are the detached, the semi-detached, terraced and flat. Choosing any of these types in planning and designing a housing development has to consider many aspects. For example, a detached house, is a single standing property that does not share any walls with any other structure, is usually more private due to the isolation of the property and generally more expansive than any other type of house, as it has more flexibility in design options and can be situated on the plot to have excellent orientation and get more benefit from the sun and the surrounding area.


Like the human body, a house has a skeleton that gives it support, shape, and a framework for outer coverings. Architects must know the basis of structural systems to enable them to choose the right one for their architectural design. Zunde and Bougdah believed that the choice of structural system is part of the integrated design process and affects a number of aspects of the building being designed. Apart from the structural performance itself, such aspects include: space planning, form and shape, other materials for the fabric, cost as well as environmental performance. They also stated: “Architects and architectural technologies are not expected to be experts in structural engineering, but it is essential part of their equipment that they should understand the principles involved in selecting and using the components to be assembled into a structure.” (Zunde J. and Bougdah H. 2006)

Structure is one of the important parts of sustainable house design that could have positive or negative impacts on the environment. Consideration of environmental issues in the structure of housing project has economic, ecological and social implications. It must be put in an overall context and undertaken in an objective and rational way. “A building’s impact on its surroundings depends on its position, shape, structure, materials and energy needs,” (Muller D. and Favet N. 2002).

Materials used in building structure such as: bricks, blocks, steel, concrete and timber, perform a variety of roles. In the UK, timber has been used as a structural material as long as man has built shelter. Most houses built since the 1920s were made of wooden beams, floor joists, wall studs, roof rafters, and related components, see figure (5.7) below. The increased use of timber in buildings structure in European countries is an important part of the governments’ effort to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions because of its environmental credentials. In this approach, these countries have managed the forests in a sustainable manner:

Felling is kept below new growth level
Future supply safeguarded by maintaining capacity for growth
Biodiversity considerations are taken into account.

Timber has been increasingly used in the building sector because it has a number of advantages as follows:

It is renewable resource, which when properly managed, would contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions.
The production of timber – based products that used in building sector needs less energy compared to other building materials.
Structural timber used in large sections has good fire resistance, easily worked and strongly joined.
Timber has a high strength to weight ratio.
Timber has a good appearance and a warm feel because of its low thermal conductivity.

Figure 5.7: Main parts of house structure

Source: World House Info (

5.4.7Building Envelope

The building envelope is the physical separator between the interior and the exterior environments of a building. A key purpose of building envelope is to enclose the interior of a building and protect it from the exterior elements such as rain, wind and snow. “A building envelope includes all the components that make up the shell or skin of the building,” ( The building envelope has four basic functions:

Adding structural support.
Controlling moisture and humidity.
Regulating temperature.
Controlling air pressure change.

“Although most see the building envelope merely as a barrier against moisture, but it is also a key element of energy efficiency, primarily affecting heating and cooling.” (Eric J. & Seaverson P. E. 2008) Many things lead to energy looses through the building envelop, such as air leak, wet insulation and thermal bridging. Unlike air leaks, which are a direct source of cold exterior air, thermal bridging through the building envelop also can increase the load on mechanical systems. Common paths of air leaks include around and through windows and doors, through gaps at transitions between walls and floor or roof levels, through transitions in cladding, and through structural wall penetrations.

One or more of the aspects of a building performance can be optimised, such as conventional weather protection, thermal insulation, day lighting, ventilation and energy consumption, if a building envelope applies technology in an innovative way. The building envelope systems have become one of the most important aspects considered by designers, especially with respect to weather control performance. It also plays an important role in determining how effectively the building can utilize natural lighting, ventilation, and heating and cooling resources. A good building envelope design should be the result of a systematic approach, checking all relevant elements. A new approach would include all the aesthetic and physical properties to be fulfilled by that envelope, integrated with the function of the building as a whole. Therefore, the building envelope has a very important function in terms of building energy performance. The control function is at the core of good performance, and in practice focuses, in order of importance, on rain control, air control, heat control, and vapour control.

5.4.8 Materials

Environmental concern is being translated into action particularly by the formulation of environmental policies. “Such policies usually stipulate that building materials are to be specified in an environmentally aware manner, both for the maintenance of existing property and the construction of new schemes.” (Johnson S. 1993). Buildings should be soundly detailed using durable materials and be as flexible as possible in order to maximise their useful life. “The trend towards increasingly energy-conscious design has resulted in a greater focus on energy-saving, materials, and components.” (Lyons A., 2010)

In our life, building materials are one of the basic needs of life along with food, water and air.

“The term “materials” refers to all the physical substances that are assembled to create the interior and exterior of a building.” (Crisman P. 2010) The way these materials are selected to be used in building construction has a significant effect on the environment and human health. “Anyone involved in a responsible role in building needs a very broad understanding of a wide variety of materials, their potential and efficiencies in use.” (Ward-Harvey K. 2009) Therefore, architects and designers are responsible choosing materials that fulfil certain ecological criteria in term of environmental conservation. There are national and international material standards in terms of strength, safety and durability etc. However, standards and criteria for materials selection relating to its environmental impact are more important for incorporation into an ecological sustainable design.

Building materials include any material either natural or man-made, which is used for a construction purpose. They affect the environment in different ways. Some affect the external environment such as when hardwoods are used for construction and sites are cleaned for development, whereas, others affect the environment within the building. Therefore, finding an ecological building materials become essential concern of architects and designers. Ecological building materials are those that comply with most of the criteria which are listed below. The responsibility of architects and designers is to choose a material that provides the best balance between those criteria.

Clean: Non-polluting materials which cause a minimum damage to the earth’s ecosystems in terms of global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain and ground and water pollution. Architects need to be aware which building materials produce quantities of toxic gases either directly as brick making and cement production or indirectly through high energy processes and materials produce ground contamination and degradation of the earth’s skin.
Healthy: Materials caused different type of pollution and hazards to the humans, as humankind is part of the environment and should be protected from hazardous materials. Construction materials may either be toxic or healthy, or perhaps some of each. The building industry changes and grows rapidly and constantly looks for ways to build more cheaply and without some of the common drawbacks. For instance, OSB, an engineered wood product, has become very popular for many reasons. One of them is that it is more predictable and much less expensive than solid wood, but the wood chips glued together to make this board are using formaldehyde based adhesive, which is a known human carcinogen.
Renewable: Materials that are the products of living organisms that use energy directly or indirectly from the sun, and are made up from components that are continuously recycled in the biosphere. Renewable materials not only consume less energy in their preparation, but also are less problematic to dispose of at the end of their useful life. They are substances derived from a living tree, plant, animal or ecosystem which has less the ability to regenerate itself. In summary, renewable materials:
O Will not be depleted if managed properly.
O May have reduced net emissions of CO2 across their life cycle compared to materials from fossil fuels.
O Result in biodegradable waste.
Natural: Many of these materials are available throughout the world, so the costs and pollution associated with the transportation of these materials across the country falls. Using natural materials also reduce toxins in the home. As a bonus, many of these methods are energy efficient, inexpensive and easy to build with little construction knowledge, such as rock, bamboo, cordwood.

Figure 5.8: Bamboo House

Source: Home Design Decorating.

Locally obtained: Vernacular building materials are an ecological choice for architects to avoid the cost of materials transport. In addition, this will give each locality a unique style.
Durable: A low maintenance materials that should be last for several decades such as concrete, steel and aluminium.

Understanding the provenance of building materials, including their environmental impact, characteristics and quality is an essential criterion of sustainable design. “Good design is an integral part of the use of ecological building materials.” (Harland E. 1993). The waste of construction materials and the demolition waste if sustainably managed might be a fundamental source of such materials that could be reused in building construction. “Construction and demolition waste management takes advantage of opportunities for source reduction, materials reuse, and waste recycling.” (Kibert C. J. 2008).

5.4.9 Natural Light

“And God said, ‘let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.” (Bible, Genesis, 1, 2-3). “Light, daylight and artificial light, is the visible band of electromagnetic relation between ultra – violet and infra – red.” (Neufert, 2000) There is an inextricable link between architecture and light. Le Corbusier, a very famous French architect in the twentieth century, said that ‘Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light.’ He also said, “The history of architecture is the history of struggle for light,” (Baker N. & Steemers K. 2002). Daylight is the primary source of illumination and architects must consider it from two basic perspectives that of art and science. Consequently, they have to understand how to get benefit from natural light such as improve life-cycle cost, increase user productivity, reduce emissions and reduce operating costs. However, day lighting is the controlled admission of natural light into a space through windows to reduce or eliminate the usage of artificial light. The development of artificial lighting in the last century meant that designers did not consider the natural light so much in their projects design. However, the environmental concern, economic crises and financial costs associated with artificial lighting have led to a renewed interest in the use of daylight in sustainable design.

“In large measure, the art and science of proper day lighting design is not so much how to provide enough daylight to an occupied space, but how to do so without any undesirable side effects. It involves more than just adding windows or skylights to a space. It is the careful balancing of heat gain and loss, glare control, and variations in daylight availability. For example, successful day lighting designs will invariably pay close attention to the use of shading devices to reduce glare and excess contrast in the workspace. Additionally, window size and spacing, glass selection, the reflectance of interior finishes and the location of any interior partitions must all be evaluated.” (Gregg, D. 2008)

The illumination of a clouded sky is taken as the basis of evaluating daylight in internal areas, and is measured by the daylight factor D. This is the ratio of the internal illumination (Ei) to the prevailing external illumination (Ea), where (D = Ei/Ea ? 100%). “The daylight factor remains constant. The illumination of an internal are varies only in proportion to the external illumination prevailing at the time.” (Neufert, E. 2000)

For instance, in figure 5, 10 above the daylight factor at a point P is influenced by many factors as D = (DH + DV + DR) ? t ? k1 ? k2 ? k3, where DH is the component of light from the sky, DV is the effect due to neighbouring buildings, DR is the contribution from internal reflection, and the following reduction factors are taken into consideration: t, the light transmission factor for the glass, k1, the scatter effects due to the construction of the window; k2, the scatter effects due to the type of glazing; k3, the scatter effects of the angle of incidence of the daylight.

Figure 5.9: Daylight and internal area illumination at point P

For instance, in figure 5, 10 above the daylight factor at a point P is influenced by many factors as D = (DH + DV + DR) ? t ? k1 ? k2 ? k3, where DH is the component of light from the sky, DV is the effect due to neighbouring buildings, DR is the contribution from internal reflection, and the following reduction factors are taken into consideration: t, the light transmission factor for the glass, k1, the scatter effects due to the construction of the window; k2, the scatter effects due to the type of glazing; k3, the scatter effects of the angle of incidence of the daylight.

The type, size and position of windows essentially determine daylight factor D in the internal area and how far the light penetrate into the core of the room. For instance, Windows facing the direction of the sun (south in the northern hemisphere) will receive more daylight than those facing in the opposite direction. Tall windows will push the daylight factor contours back into a room while wide windows give a better distribution across the width of a room but do not let the light penetrate to the back. In this sense, large window areas allow more daylight into a space, but they may also allow excessive heat gains or losses which increase the air-conditioning cooling or heating load, and the energy consumption.

One of quantitative and qualitative aspects of sustainable housing design is the good attention of daylight. Designers must make sure the combination of natural and artificial light sources provides adequate light level for the required task. However, light in architecture is not of singular concern that can be isolated from other design concerns, but relates to a rich integrated web of interdependent aesthetic and functional criteria.

It is not just the art, but understanding the science of light can be better instilled in the sustainable design process. “An investigation of the roles of light through history reveals both the power and beauty of light in architecture.” (Baker N. And Steemers K. 2002) In conclusion, designers have to understand a number of lighting design standards during the design process such as:

Using roof windows can bring daylight deep into the living space as shown in figure 5, 12.
Increase the boundary daylight zones to maximise usable day lighting area.
Increase room brightness and decrease window brightness.
Using slope ceilings to direct more light into a space, as it increases the surface brightness of the ceiling further into a space.
Good orientation of a building can benefit much more from daylight.

Figure 5.10: Using roof windows affect daylight

Source: Google images

5.4.10 Ventilation

A brief overview to the history of architecture would show that almost all historical buildings were ventilated naturally. With the beginning of twentieth century and the development of industry sector, there was more prevailing approach of using mechanical ventilation. However, with the increased awareness of the cost and environmental impacts of energy use in the last decades, architects and designers increasingly attracted to use natural ventilation method to reduce energy use and cost and to provide acceptable indoor environmental quality and maintaining a healthy, comfortable, and productive indoor climate. “In favourable climates and buildings types, natural ventilation can be used as an alternative to air-conditioning plants, saving 10%-30% of total energy consumption.” (Waker A. 2010). Although, natural ventilation can be used as a system to save energy, but still could be one of the problems facing architects in terms of heat loss in houses. “Ventilation can account for up to 25% of heat loss in typical house.” (Sustainable Housing design Guide for Scotland, 2011).

Ventilation is required to supply fresh for breathing, create a pleasant atmosphere, and remove pollutants and excess moisture to reduce

the risk of consideration and to take away a surplus of heat. In spite of all these advantages, natural ventilation may cause negative effects such as heat loss. In addition, the wind as a main source of natural ventilation may cause damage to the building in several ways.

Figure 5.11: Region of positive and negative pressures around a building.

Source: Neufert, E. 2000

Physically, the dynamic force of the wind encounters a facade of a building will convert into a positive or pushing pressure on that facade. Meanwhile, some of the wind is deflected over and around the building, whereas negative forces will be created at the roof and wall edges as the air flow is accelerated away from the building.

Moreover, vortex – a rotating spiral wind – may be created when the air flowing down the windward building facade reaches the ground and deflected upwards the oncoming wind. As a result, a positive pressure wind forces on one side of a building and negative pressure forces on other sides is helping for natural ventilation.

Some design features might make a building more susceptible to wind damage. So, architects and designers must consider these features including: low pitch roof, lightweight structure, elements protruding above the roof line. Figure (5.12) shows that cladding elements tend to be pulled away from a facade and a flat roof will be lifted off, whilst a pitched roof will stay in place, but still the angle of the pitched roof has to be physically well considered by designers.

Figure 5.12: The flow and forces over 5o and 30o pitched roof.

Source: Neufert, E. 2000

To find out how much air would be needed, a ventilation rate should be measured according to the number of people in the space and size of the spaces. Although, indoor air quality has always been a concern for architects, natural ventilation still considered as part of low energy design strategies.

5.4.11 Acoustic

Noise is unwanted sound causing noise pollution, which has become a part of urban life and industrial centres in this century. Noise pollution may come from loudspeakers, factories, moving trains, aeroplanes construction activity or even a radio. Low energy buildings have tight constructions which not only reduce the energy consumption, but also reduce the noise from traffic and other sources that would otherwise penetrate into the building. “Noise is one of major if not most serious of atmospheric pollutions. The main sources of noise in the environment are: Road vehicles and traffic; Airports and aircrafts; Road works and building construction; Industry, especially heavy industry; Railways and ships. Of the sources listed the worst in the sense of the most widespread and most persistent is traffic noise,” (Reekie, R. F. 1972).

Part E of the building regulations ‘Resistance to the passage of sound’ supplies legislations to improve acoustics and privacy between residential dwellings. Therefore, all residential properties must provide a good level of acoustic insulation between dwellings. This means that sound insulation testing is mandatory throughout all developments. The objective of this pre completion test is to raise the standard of sound insulation in all dwellings.

The pre completion test means that the development needs to be almost complete when the sound insulation test taking place. This means doors; windows and trickle vents should be fitted, as well as power on site.

There are two types of sound test; airborne, which is carried out on walls and floors separating dwellings; and impact, which is carried out on floors separating dwellings. The table in figure (5.13) shown below, summarise the required decibel standards of performance for compliance.

The most effective source of noise is the traffic noise, which has a top priority consideration to be reduced. The reduction of traffic noise depends on many factors such as; site selection, site planning and the features used to block the sound waves as shown in figure (5.14) below. “The sound level of road traffic can be reduced by ?25 dB (A) after passing through a noise shielding wall. (with a reduction of 10 dB (A), the sound seems half as loud.” (Neufert E. 2000). The shielding effect is depending on wall material and on its height.

Element of Construction
internal walls that include a door are exempt from this requirement.Airborne sound
insulation (site test result) minimum value DnT,w+Ctr dBImpact sound
insulation (site test result) maximum value L’nT,w dBAirborne sound
insulation (lab test result) minimum value Rw dB
Separating walls between dwellings.45 Min

Separating walls between rooms used for residential purposes.43 Min

Separating walls between rooms created by a change of use.43 Min

Separating floors between dwellings and rooms used for residential purposes.43 Min

62 Max

Separating floors between rooms created by a change of use.43 Min

64 Max

An internal wall or floor between a bathroom/W.C. and a habitable room. Also between bedrooms and between bedrooms and any other room in the dwelling. 40 Min

Figure 5.13: Summarise the required decibel standards of performance for compliance.

Source: (Thermal and Acoustic Solutions Ltd)

Figure 5.14: Noise insulation methods on a main road.

5.5 The Key Findings

As mentioned before, the objective of this study is to arrive at principles of sustainable design in which can be used as a guide enables architects and designers to evaluate and assess their designs. The principles that have been created and investigated in this Chapter have led to design an evaluating tool, figure (5.16) that should be used in early stage of the development process to assess housing development in terms of sustainable environment. These principles are the result of influenced relationship of the three pillars of sustainable design, which have been identified and investigated in Chapter (3). They are put in order according to the design steps, see figure (5.15).

Figure 5.15: Principles of Sustainable Design.

The first step in any development is choosing a site that meets the project requirements. The second step is to put the layout of the project that meets the client requirements and also taking into account the environmental, social and economic requirements. The most important issue architects have to think about it firstly is the orientation of the whole project and then the orientation of each unit individually. This will have a significant effect on the next step, the interior design. With the fact of sustainability, three most important building features must be studied carefully. In order to come up with the right decision, architects must have a basic knowledge about building systems, building structure and building envelope. The third and most important pillar is the environment. The responsibility of architects is how to protect the environment and how to get benefit from the environmental issues; materials, natural light, natural ventilation and acoustic.

The design assessment table below have been designed in terms of the above principles to be used as assessment tool of a development design as well as an individual building design.

Project Name
Unit to Be AssessedDate
Generic Design Criteria

Rates of Sustainability

1 = 20%

2 = 40%

3 = 60%

4 = 80%

5 = 100%

Site Selection

Project Design


Interior Design

Building Systems


Building Envelope


Natural Light



Total of Rates
Design Sustainability

V. Poor



V. Good


Figure 5.16: The Assessment Table of Sustainable Design.

The table of assessment above was simply designed to allow architects support their design sustainably before starting the construction phase. A project or a building design should achieve at least level 3 to be acceptable in terms of sustainability. With achievement less than level 3, designers must reconsider the design especially the design criteria that has got poor evaluation.

Assessors must have efficient information and understanding about the sustainable design criteria. They should know how these principles work together and how they integrated to the sustainable design. The first step of the assessment is to have a look at the design programme. This gives the assessor an impression on the project requirements and the first concept of the development design made by the design team. A visit to the proposal site is vital to gain information about the nature of the site such as; topography, biodiversity, orientation etc. The following step is to investigate design criteria one by one as they are listed in the diagram of principles of sustainable design shown in figure (5.15) above.

The final step is to evaluate and assess the project using the table for design assessment shown in figure (5.16) above. A final report should be written by the assessor showing the result of assessment with significant recommendations determining the vulnerable aspects of the design that should be reconsidered by the designers.

Chapter 6

In addition to use them as a research method, the following case studies are involved in this study to be examined by the principles of sustainable design resulted and created in Chapter (5). Case studies have been considered as another source of data for this study. The aim of investigating the following cases is to collect information and analysing them in such a way that the reader should come up with a proposed solutions against the development problems.

6.1 Coed Darcy / Wales

Coed Darcy Urban Village is a proposed development and regeneration of the former Bp Oil Llandarcy Refinery near Neath, West Wales of 4000 homes and community facilities phased and being built over the next 20 years at a cost of some ? 1.2 billion. Project sponsors include BP, The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Welsh Assembly Government (WAG).

6.1.1 Background

Coed Darcy development 1,043 acre site is located near J43 of the M4, between Swansea and Neath, on what was the old Bp Oil Refinery at Llandarcy, which was constructed between 1918 and 1922 and was the first refinery in the UK.

Coed Darcy project is one of Europe’s largest brown field redevelopment sites and is the biggest regeneration project of its kind in Wales. The former Bp refinery site closure was announced in 1997 and In 1999 The Welsh Development Agency invited The Prince’s Foundation to give advice on the creation of a new urban village. In 2008, St. Modwen Properties PLC purchased the former Bp refinery.

Figure 6.1: The site of Coed Darcy

Source: St. Modwen Properties PLC

Figure 6.2: The former Bp Refinery

Source: St. Modwen Properties PLC.

With the site remediation and reclamation phase, a specialist remediation consultant has been appointed and a construction manager with engineering background has been dedicated to manage the project. All of the site process plant and tank farm storage have been decommissioned and demolished. The Reservoir in the North site remains for cooling water and site drainage. With all these demolition works, no removal of foundations and underground pipes has occurred, (St. Modwen Properties PLC). According to the report presented in October 2007 by St. Modwen Properties PLC, the remediation and reclamation works resulted; 800,000 tonnes of hydrocarbon contaminated materials; 1 million tonnes of metal contaminated materials; 750 miles of pipeline and cables to be removed; 10 miles of offsite pipes to be removed; 15 million tonnes of earthwork; 16 miles of roads; and 80 million gallons of water from the North site reservoir to be drained. All these works can take up to 7 years to be completed and 20 years needed for the buildings and infrastructure to be constructed.

6.1.2 Planning the Project

In addition to the 4000 houses, the development includes open spaces, integrated land use pattern, full range of services, four new schools and health and community facilities. The project is based on The Prince’s Foundation’s principles of walkable mixed use communities with a village centre at the core of the development. A series of four smaller local centres will connect the existing Llandarcy village and Skewen. The connections are supported by a public transport interchange and local rail halt, which will improve access to Llandarcy and Skewen. The project has been divided into several phases to be implemented over 20 years, so the plan and design of the first phase will be investigated in this research.

Figure 6.3: Master Plan of Phase 1 Area

Source: Robert Adam Architects

The area of phase 1 is divided into six character areas as shown in figure (6.4) to reflect design precedents and establish a strong sense of place and local identity and link the street

Llandarcy Village Road,

Middle Street,

The Lanes,

South Street,

The Crescent and Cliff Side Green,

North Street and North Street Green

Figure 6.4: Character Areas 1-6

Source: Robert Adam Architects

Area 1 will be predominantly residential with one commercial space and a total of 195 residences comprise of 137 houses (2-5 Bed); 51 apartments (1-2 Bed) and 7 apartments over garage (1-2 Bed). A ground level retail unit is included on the junction of Middle Street and South Street with an area of 558 ft2.

6.1.3 Project Analysis and Assessment

In the following, the project features will be analysed and assessed according to the principles of sustainable design been created and investigated in chapter (5):

Visiting the site gave panoramic views of the project location and a quick look at the site topography indicates changes in level from east to west by circa 10 meters across the site and rises in northerly direction by some 18 meters.
This character of the site emphasises the form and variety of the areas created by the master plan layout. The problem of the slopping nature of the site has been carefully solved by forming an extensive retaining wall to the east of the site to terrace the existing slope for construction of the new units. In addition, slopping ground was occupied by lanes, smaller units and apartments, whilst the level ground and open space was enclosed by houses. This approach will reduce the amount of earth to be removed, but on the other hand, it will increase the expenditure of the project. In addition, stepped routes are made to provide pedestrian links through the site emphasising

the natural rise and fall across the site.

Figure 6.5: Retaining walls and stepped routes.

The site selection has both advantages and disadvantages. For the advantages, the site was occupied by Bp for a long time, so developing a new residential project will not affect the biodiversity in the area and there are no trees to be removed. On the other hand, the natural site features (soil, water, air) are contaminated and should be carefully treated.
The Coed Darcy consists of new infrastructure to the whole of the site. This means additional cost to implement and could interfere with old infrastructure and building foundations already existing on-site.
The way in which Area 1 has been planned produces that circa one third of the total residential units have been orientated to the North and North-West. This means less benefit from the sun heat and natural daylight. Furthermore, the size of the double glazing windows has not been considered according to the house orientation as shown in figure (6.6), which reflects the need to use artificial light all the day.

Figure 6.6: Size of windows that used in some buildings and the effect of daylight

A cross section through the site master plan shows that buildings can benefit from the slopped area and also the distance between buildings will increase the natural ventilation. The pitch roofs are designed at an angle between 30o and 45o, which helps to create positive ventilation and fixed the roof tiles against strong winds, see figure (6.8) below.
Figure 6.7: Site section from North to South

Source: Robert Adam Architects

Figure 6.8: Pitch roof slope

The units are predominantly timber framed construction and have a facing brick and stonework finish to them. These are more sustainable traditional local materials can be used in building construction and the sources for them are available in the local area. Using different types of materials in the houses facade, different type of houses produced visual impact on the occupiers and visitors and also indicated different styles of houses, which gives people an opportunity to choose the likeable and suitable property, as shown in figure (6.9).

Figure 6.9: Different styles of houses and different materials.

The unit design has not consider the best orientation of the spaces, which expected to be taken into account in such project like this one, as we can see the same design used in houses oriented to the south has been used in houses oriented to the west and east.
Building systems have been used in sustainable way to increase energy efficiency of houses includes; high insulation value timber frame construction; class 1 chimney and fire place burning wood waste; high insulation value building envelope; timber floor with softwood renewable sources; high insulted ground floor raised to allow natural ventilation of subsoil; gas central heating; double glazing windows; cast metal gutter and slate roof.

Figure 6.10: Double glazing windows are used in the houses

Using the assessment table of sustainable design determines the strength and weakness of Coed Darcy development. See figure (6.11) below:

Project NameCoed Darcy Development
Location Former Bp Oil Llandarcy Refinery, near Neath, Wales
Unit to Be Assessed The Master PlanDate 20/04/2011
Generic Design Criteria

Rates of Sustainability

1 = 20%

2 = 40%

3 = 60%

4 = 80%

5 = 100%

Site Selection


Project Design




Interior Design


Building Systems




Building Envelope




Natural Light






Total of Rates2 * 40 = 807 * 60 = 4202 * 80 = 160
Result80 + 420 + 160 = 660 * 100 = 66000 ? 1100 = 60 %
Design Sustainability

V. Poor



V. Good



Figure 6.11: Table of Assessment (Coed Darcy Development).

The assessment has been done according to the analysis of the project design. The table indicates that the design has seven criteria achieved level 3; two criteria achieved level 2 and two with level 4. The total result was 6600 out of 1100, which is equal to 60% and this is good, but the two poor criteria should be reconsidered. Although, seven criteria have reached level 3, an additional effort should be done to improve them.

6.2 Greenwatt Way / England

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) decided to build its own development of 10 zero carbon homes on the former site of SSE office in Chalvey, Slough, as shown in figure (6.12) below.

Figure 6.12: Greenwatt Way development layout.

Source: Inside Housing, (

6.2.1 Background

A total of 10 dwellings have been constructed since the autumn of 2010. The development consists of 10 homes (two one bed flats, a terrace of two bed houses, a terrace of three bed houses and two three bed detached houses). Different building techniques have been used. Four homes have been built using lightweight timber frame and the rest of homes from more traditional masonry construction. As a result of these measures the homes are expected to have a very limited heating demand (80% less than homes built to 2006 Building Regulation standards). The roofs of the homes and flats will be covered with solar PV tiles (63 kWp in total), which provides enough renewable electricity to achieve net zero carbon emissions in each of the homes irrespective of the heat source. Greenwatt Way will also provide a number of key amenities to enable residents to live a more sustainable lifestyle, free electricity from solar PV, bicycle storage, Private patios and a shared garden with no public access, and fruit trees and raised beds for growing vegetables.

6.2.2 Project Analysis and Assessment

The development has been built to the zero carbon standards. Therefore, it should achieve most of the principles of sustainable design. The design itself is imaginative, flexible and functional. It creates excitement. It is fit for purpose. It takes full advantage of its location.

Four homes were built using a lightweight timber frame (manufactured offsite) and the rest of the homes from more traditional masonry construction. This means, using different building techniques with high standard of fabric performance in order to achieve a heat loss parameter (HLP) of 0.8 W/m2K, which was a mandatory requirement for code level 6.
One of the first considerations in designing the new development is to consider the orientation of each property. The way this project was planned, it was not possible to achieve purely south facing housing. Homes were oriented with east and west facing facade, which is highly challenging orientation and should have spacing design solutions.

Figure 6.13: Interior design

Source: (

Therefore, the designer tried different types of interior design as shown below; in addition, an open design system was adopted in the living and kitchen spaces to gain more natural daylight and natural ventilation.

Figure 6.14: Different style of interior design

Source: (

Choosing appropriate building envelop system includes; high level of insulation, good air tightness and minimal cold bridges ensure heat loss during the winter is minimised.

Figure 6.15: Insulation System.

Source: (

To achieve water usage requirements for this scheme, recycling and reuse systems are used clearly, as waste water from the shower and bath is collected and reused for WC flushing. Heat from waste water is used to heat fresh air.
High performance triple glazed windows with draught resistant seals allow larger openings and better daylight. High level roof light uses stack effect for good purge ventilation.
The ten houses use a combination of five different types of energy generation. These include solar thermal, roof mounted photovoltaic panels along the entire south facing roof, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and a biomass boiler.
All of the homes have been built using traditional cavity wall and rendered block work except four homes which were erected using a prefabrication timber panel system.

Project NameGreenwatt Way Development
LocationSlough – England
Unit to Be AssessedThe Project DesignDate 22/04/2011
Generic Design Criteria

Rates of Sustainability

1 = 20%

2 = 40%

3 = 60%

4 = 80%

5 = 100%

Site Selection


Project Design




Interior Design


Building Systems




Building Envelope




Natural Light






Total of Rates5 * 60 = 3006 * 80 = 480
Result300 + 480 = 780 * 100 = 78000 ? 1100 = 70.9 %
Design Sustainability

Very Poor



Very Good



Figure 6.16: Table of assessment (Greenwatt Way Development)

The assessment table indicates that 5 criteria have achieved level 3 and 6 criteria with level 4. This is a very good achievement of a new housing development design. This means no more improvement can be done in this stage, but, the design criteria with level 3 achievements must be investigated and improved for future developments.

6.3 Comparison between Two Projects

Coed Darcy is one of the largest residential development in Europe consists of 4000 homes, while Greenwatt Way development consists of ten homes.
Greenwatt Way is one phase development to be built in one year. Coed Darcy development is phased and being built over the next 20 years. In this case, designers should take into account the future developments in building aspects and technologies.
Greenwatt Way was designed as one community. The ten homes are sharing services, outdoor facilities and green spaces. This will enhance the social relationship, which is hardly reached in large projects.
Greenwatt Way project would be benefited the infrastructure already existed in the Area, whereas a new infrastructure net should be built in such development like Coed Darcy.
Greenwatt Way project used the latest construction methods and energy technologies available to deliver zero carbon housing. In addition, the project included a look at issues that are potentially of interest to the building sector, such as ventilation, air quality, renewable resource system, noise and the environmental tolerance of a zero carbon home to the real people living in it. In contrast, the Coed Darcy project needs reconsideration of some aspects to achieve sustainability ratio.

Chapter 7

This chapter emphasizes a brief review of the research summarized as a conclusion of the study to enable readers come up to full understanding of the research results. These findings assist to meet the main objectives of the study listed in Chapter (2).It contains concluding remarks to the structure of the study following by a list of results, ending with recommendations proposed by the researcher in order to go further in the way of improving and developing the research in the future.

7.1 Conclusion

Can well-designed, sustainable housing benefit the environmentThis is a vital question needs a crucial answer. If the answer is ‘Yes’, then the most important is how this can be done. Quick review to the research helps to clarify the results that would answer the questions to meet the objectives of the study.

Tough climate change targets mean that CO2 emissions from the UK’s housing stock must reduce by at least 80% by 2050 and all new dwellings will need to be zero carbon from 2016.

The rapid growth of the world’s population is one of the figures highlights the need for more housing developments. The scientific development in the techniques of architecture urges steps reform the human understanding of nature. The interaction between humans, architecture and the environment is a major demonstration of human civilization. Researches were done and books were written to cope with the trend of environmental architecture. Environmental architecture, intelligent buildings, green architecture and eco homes are new approaches recently been considered in terms of sustainability in society, economy and environment.

In addition to information gained from relevant researches and books, a research questionnaire was made to arrive at the latest findings and opinions of professionals in this area. This information investigated to meet the principal objectives of this research, which is establishing underpinning principles that can be used in the design of sustainable architecture. The qualitative research method, explained in Chapter (2), has been used to collect information in order to understand the interrelationship between architecture and environment. The evaluation activities undertaken were questionnaire to a nominal focus group. The target group were responsible for the building design that can play a fundamental role in contributing to the delivery of quality to building performance.

The literature review in chapter (3) reveals a distressing gap between architecture and environment, whilst a mutual relationship is strictly required. Defining the relationship between architecture and environment can be challenging because of their impact on each other. From one side, architects always tried to find such ways to protect buildings from the environment, on the other side, environmental scientists tried hard to reduce negative effects of buildings on the environment. Because of these challenges, evaluating and assuring quality and sustainability in housing developments become a critical issue. Despite the amount of scientific knowledge architects have gathered, environmental issues still holds great mysteries that they may never be able to unravel.

However, environmental architecture aims to create a new harmonious relationship between architecture and environment by exploring what it means to design with nature in mind. Furthermore, the relationship between architecture and environment is seen as an interactive and dynamic process where each impacts the other. From this point of view, the core concept of sustainable design is that presenting harmony between buildings and surrounding environment using it for human needs while respecting its importance.

Chapter (4) focused on a number of environmental assessment tools currently adopted and implemented by governments, local authorities and organisations to monitor buildings performance. These tools include EPC, BREEAM, SAP and CSH. The measurement of environmental performance and sustainability in the built environment is one of the most important issues. The investigation outlined a representative sample of the major tools and other initiatives that encourage improved performance in this field and describes the common features of assessment tools. These codes and standards are designed to work with some or all parts of a building. The relationship between architecture and environment is complex and the tools, standards and guidance are usually focused on parts of this network. Therefore, this study aimed to find factors that influence the sustainable design. These integrated factors would work together as a guide of building assessment during the design stage of a development.

Finding and results of Chapter (4) led to search for appropriate principles of sustainable design in Chapter (5). The research reveals 11 principal factors would be considered as ‘sustainable design criteria’ to be assessed during the design stage. And so, a table for design assessment was designed to simplify the evaluation method and come up with the final decision of sustainability ratio of a development design.

To examine the design assessment method created in Chapter (5), two new developments were experienced to find out how sustainable they are. The first one was Coed Darcy Development in Wales and the second was Greenwatt Way Development in England. Reasons of choosing these two developments were explained in Chapter (6) and assessing them reflects the importance of creating principles of sustainable design.

7.2 Research Results

Studying architectural engineering, practicing buildings design and building construction especially residential buildings and eventually, studying environmental conservation and management, which presents the opportunity to produce this research, extract the following results:

Architecture is a craft as old as human existence on this earth. The ancient civilizations attempted to adapt and live in the surrounding environment.
Environment was always the focus of human attention over centuries, but in different levels because it was always sustaining their life and gaving them the main sources in order to live comfortably and efficiently.
Sustainability will become more commonplace as the cost implementing sustainable processes decreases with added experience over time. This will likely derive building companies as well as individuals that would otherwise not consider sustainable design to consider it in the future.
Human activities have negative effects upon environment and most effectively building homes to live in.
Buildings contribute to around 60% of UK CO2 emissions, in which housing account of about 27%. Housing impact the environment in several aspects. The most important is depletion of natural resources and pollution resulting from housing construction and operation. Therefore, it was normal for humans to deeply think about the devastation and destruction of environment.
It is very important to consider not only energy efficiency in building design and construction, but more importantly, planning a design programme, managing natural resource, implementing structural techniques, minimising the waste in materials, water and energy should be a key goal.
Architecture, environment and sustainability are the primary pillars of sustainable design. Studying the interrelationship between these three pillars was a common core of the research underpinned the investigation to meet the objectives stated earlier.
A fully understanding of sustainability in terms of environment, society and economy, reflected that sustainable housing design refers to design a house building that respects its environment; uses less energy and natural resources; healthy and comfortable for its users; good integrated with its community and is also cost effective. As this is a broad subject to be investigated in a master thesis, the research only focused on environmental aspect. Therefore, the aimed principles for sustainable design that created according to this aspect are: site selection; project design; orientation; interior design; building systems; structure; building envelop; materials, natural light; ventilation and acoustic. Architect Glenn Murcutt, when he characterised sustainable design as responding to the environment, claimed “Follow the sun, observe the wind, watch the flow of water, use simple materials, and touch the earth lightly.”
With the growing awareness of the negative impact of the exploitation of nature, governments and organisations are more and more supporting sustainable housing design that are in tune with nature’s plan. Under the UK Government Plans, from 2016 all new homes will be built to a new zero carbon standards, and by 2050 the nation’s entire housing stock will be virtually zero carbon. It is not hyperbole to say that the better design of new houses would result in about 50% of reduction in their energy consumption and this would significantly contribute to environmental impact and climate change mitigation. The design of buildings is complex processes in which decisions are taken during the design stage that critically affect the building performance.
Although, most developments consume more resources that they create, projects that are designed with sustainable ideals will benefit the environment. Therefore, housing design that encompasses assessment and architectural issues that address sustainability goals is likely to be able to demonstrate significant contribution global resource efficiency. From this point of view, the research clearly answered the vital question early stated at the beginning of the study. Furthermore, the research produced proposed principles of sustainable design that would assess housing design in earlier stages.

7.3 Recommendations

This research has been taken place to derive appropriate answer to the main question that identified the principal objectives of the study. Consequently, to deliver an opinion of how sustainable design of housing development would reduce impacts upon environment. Many relevant aspects have been considered throughout the research and the key findings were stated as principles of sustainable design. Accordingly, numbers of recommendations were suggested to overcome deficiencies in data and information necessary to develop the research in further studies or by others interested in similar challenges.

Following the investigation of the whole topic in this study, it appears that this is a broad subject to be covered in an MSc dissertation, and could be considered as a PhD thesis with deep investigation taking into account sustainable society and economy as well as the environment. Therefore, it is recommended that further studies might be taken place in the near future to improve and develop more principles for sustainable design in terms of environment, economy and society.
It is recommended that the housing development team should consider these principles during the design stage. In addition, developing an acceptable policy that manages the assessment process designed in this study is required by local authorities to persuade designers review and evaluate their design before being put in practice.
Any further design criteria might be added should be focus on more direct impact upon environment and this should be presented in the table of assessment during the design phase.

If new principles are implemented, a deep investigation of how these new principles affect the design of sustainable housing should be taken place.
Finally, sustainable houses are a gift that we give to our children and the coming generation who have a right to fresh air and water and a healthy living systems. This earth is theirs tomorrow and it is our duty to hand it over in perfect shape.


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