Consider the environmental value of land

Transformations in land use produced by urban projects and architecture should assess their impact on the natural, social, cultural and economic environment of the place to maximize positive effects.
What to do…

- Prioritize the recovery of degraded areas and the reuse of obsolete building structures.
- Limit low density urban growth
- Include permeable soil surfaces to allow rain water infiltration
- Design landscape to avoid the use of potable water and chemicals for plants and Gardens
- Preserve the natural conditions of land
- Chose low maintenance vegetation
- Design exterior spaces to promote social life, and out door activities such as playing, resting or work

110 hectares old coal refinery north of Essen, Germany, transformed into a cultural, recreational and commercial space, preserving old buildings and the history of the place. Zollverein, Germany Project Rem Koolhaas. More information:
Pervious paving allows infiltration of rain water and its storage. Segovia, Spain.
Landscape designed using local species with very low maintenance and water requirements. Fundación Arqto. Cesar Manrique, Lanzarote Canarias.

Design with climate

Take into account temperature, wind and humidity local conditions. Architectural answers should be different for different climates and landscapes
What to do…

Choose building materials considering their qualities and physical properties (thermal insulation, inertia, color, etc) to enhance comfort conditions.
Design and orient spaces taking into account sun position in the sky during different seasons of the year
Define position, size and shape of windows according to sun, light and wind
Design shading devices, pergolas and porches to protect, filter or favor solar access and natural light,
Consider the size, canopy and type of vegetation used in landscape to improve access to breezes or/and protect both the buildings and the outdoors from heavy winds, provide shade or guarantee access to sun.

Shading coefficient of tree canopy. Perennial and deciduous trees.
Solar access studies using models and direct sun
Solar shade for Window Northeast orientation 34Lat
Solar access in outdoor spaces. Buenos Aires Lat34S

Rational use of water

The inhabitants of Buenos Aires consume an average of 630 liters of water per person per day, when mean consumption in European cities is 250 liters.
On the other hand, more than a thousand million people in the world lack of clean drinking water
What to do…

Collect rain water for outdoor cleaning, gardening and other selective uses
Design the landscape to minimize water consumption, choosing plants naturally adapted to local climatic conditions.
When proper sewage systems are not provided, choose water treatment methods that guarantee the preservation of ground water and rives
Install automatic faucets in public toilettes
Install water-saving devices such a low-flow toilets and showers
Include sanitary systems that recover gray waters for toilets and other uses.

Rain water collection system, Phoenix, Arizona, Arizona Public Service Environmental Showcase Home
Rain water collection and reuse system. Low income housing project in La Boca, Holcim 2006 proposal for Habitat for Humanity Argentina.
Low impact water treatment plant with natural filtering and aeration systems. La Aurora del Palmar wild life refugee, Entre Rios. Designed by L Diaz Pumará.

Choose building materials and Technologies with low environmental impact

The environmental impact of a product should be evaluated including all its life cycle, from extraction and production, transport, use and final disposal.
What to do…

Prioritize the use of local materials, based on natural products of wide existence such as adobe, cane, brick or stone
Ask suppliers and providers to reduce packaging to a minimum, avoiding the use of plastic
Choose durable materials
Reuse building materials (metal beams, windows and doors frames, etc)
Avoid the use of PVC when possible. The production of PVC (PolyVinylChloride) creates and releases dioxin, one of the most toxic man-made chemicals.
Use wood and wood derivatives, with environmental certifications
Do not use materials or systems containing asbestos

Postconsuming glass bottles and old frames for windows
International certification for wood, it guarantees environmentally responsible forest management

Efficient use of gas and electricity

Buildings consume energy mainly for thermal conditioning, artificial lighting and transport of products and people. It is possible to live comfortably, reducing fossil fuels consumption and yet do not modify ways of life.
What to do…

Protect our buildings to minimize the stress of outdoor conditions
Use thermal isolating materials on roofs and ceilings, walls and groundfloors. The economic cost of better insulation is relatively low, and pays back fast.
Seal air leaks throughout doors and windows to stop drafts
Include double glassing, low emissivity glassing and energy efficient frames in windows and doors
Choose and promote the use of natural lighting
Employ intelligently the properties of building materials such as color or inertia to improve comfort conditions naturally

Solar protection in outdoor spaces, street in Madrid, Spain
Framing with double glassing to thermal insulation in windows
Thermal insulation in buildings
Light tube to improve natural lighting in a Buenos Aires dwelling

Facilitate more sustainable ways of life

Architectural design can ease, limit or increase our possibilities to carry out more a more sustainable living
What to do…

Include save space to store and park bicycles,
Incorporate changing rooms and showers for personnel riding bikes or waking to work
Design kitchens and other service areas to allow a save, clean and conformable space for garbage separation
When designing home’s outdoor spaces, include spaces for orchards and compost and sunny area to dry clothes outside.

Accesible and save bike parking space in Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires.
Garbage separation Caixa de Barcelona Building and Casa Encendida building, Madrid, Spain.
Edible garden on the South Lawn of the White House, Washington, 2009.


Use renewable energy sources

“Renewable energy, combined with the intelligent use of the energy we consume, can satisfy half of the world’s energy demands by year 2050” [r]evolución energética, Un futuro energético sustentable para la Argentina. Greenpeace Argentina y EREC European Renewable Energy Council
What to do…

Water for human uses can be heated or preheated with solar collectors. This technology reduces fossil fuels consumption.
Solar light can generate electric energy. This technology called Photovoltaic is growing worldwide and is becoming more competitive, in isolated areas and when especially when promotions incentives are included.
The sun is a source of direct heat. With the correct design and choice of materials, it is possible to reduce energy requirements for heating in buildings.

Sun access for summer and winter conditions Lat25N North-South orientation
Photovoltaic system connected ton et, Office building for Greenpeace Argentina. Project and installation Sursolar Srl more info:

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