How to Justify Costs for Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable architecture is generally more expensive than non-sustainable architecture, as in order to make a building environmentally friendly it takes more time and special materials are also required. How can these costs be justified when conventional construction can be built for a fraction of the cost?

What is Sustainable Architecture?

Sustainable architecture can be described as environmentally conscious building design. It advocates the premise that we should design and build with sustainability in mind by using design techniques and materials that will have less overall impact on the environment.

Why is Sustainable Architecture more Expensive?

Sustainable architecture is generally more expensive due to the fact that they use materials that overall have less impact on the environment but are more expensive to purchase. For example, a commonly used material is self-heating concrete which uses a special thermal process that enables the concrete to heat itself. Therefore, such a material would have less impact on the environment. Conventional concrete that does not have these properties, can be purchased for a much cheaper price, but conventional heating would have to be used to keep such a building warm. So although it would be cheaper to construct in the long run it would have more of a negative impact on the environment. Let us look at an example of sustainable architecture.

The Gherkin Building

The Gherkin building in the heart of London is a prime example of sustainable architecture. The building was designed by Lord Foster and uses various energy saving methods, which means that it uses half the power of a conventional building of its size. The building was designed with huge thermal glass paneling enabling the building to utilize passive solar power. The glass paneling also heats up the building in the winter and cools it down in the summer months. The natural light that floods through the glass allows for a reduction in  the use of electric lighting.

Justifying Sustainable Architecture

We can justify the cost of sustainable architecture by considering the fact that there will be less overall impact on the environment in the long run. 

Solar Power

Solar power is widely used in sustainable architecture. It can be more expensive to set up than a conventional electric power system, but overall it can save a substantial amount of non-renewable fuel. Electricity is created by burning fossil fuels, which have a huge impact on the environment, namely the ozone layer, as they produce harmful gases. Using solar power can drastically reduce the impact on the environment therefore justifying the initial cost.

Thermal Concrete and Glass

Over the years many sustainable architectural projects have used such materials as thermal glass and concrete to conserve energy and reduce a building's overall carbon footprint. These materials are generally far more expensive than conventional glass or concrete, but their self heating properties greatly reduce the use of electricity and gas, again saving electrical bills and reducing carbon omissions that damage the environment.

Therefore, if we consider the fact sustainable architecture could greatly reduce the impact buildings can have on the environment, then the cost of it can be justified.