Minimising the Impact of Resource Consumption in the Design and Construction of Buildings

    Pullen, Stephen
    Chiveralls, Keri
    Zillante, George
    Palmer, Jasmine
    Wilson, Lou
    Architecture and the environment


Although the construction of buildings normally provides undeniable benefits to the community, there are hidden costs to be paid in terms of the adverse effects on the natural environment. The processes of constructing, renovating, maintaining and demolishing buildings have various impacts and in recent decades there have been efforts made to minimise these effects. The manufacture and production of building materials and components uses raw material resources, consumes energy, produces greenhouse gas emissions and can use significant quantities of water. At the end of a building’s life cycle, a significant proportion of the demolished materials may add to the environmental burden as landfill.

This paper reviews the adverse environmental effects of constructing buildings with particular reference to resource consumption. The factors are considered which would contribute to the minimisation of resource consumption in the design and construction of buildings. This is one component of the research being carried out at the University of South Australia within the three year project entitled Re-considering sustainable building and design: a cultural change approach supported by an ARC Linkage grant. The paper reviews a series of case studies featuring low environmental impact buildings and concludes with a hierarchy of principles for minimising resource consumption in the design and operation of buildings.

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