In the past decade, we have witnessed tremendous growth in green or sustainable building practices, which initially were voluntary, but more recently are trending toward mandatory adoption. This growth includes rapid adoption of sustainable practices across the construction industry and more ambitious long-term sustainable development planning, including engineering infrastructures based on low and zero carbon technologies. Many plans include a goal to transform a city to zero carbon over time.
The development of sustainable building practices often occurs locally with the individual decisions of practitioners, owners, code officials and other stakeholders. However, the industry is learning from seeing what others are doing worldwide.
ASHRAE is a leader in moving forward sustainable building practices globally in collaboration with associated organizations and local chapters worldwide. ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Standard 189.1 for sustainable buildings and the forthcoming ASHRAE/ ASHE Standard 189.2, Design, Construction and Operation of Sustainable High Performance Health Care Facilities, are examples of ASHRAE standards that have international application.
Sustainable design practices differ worldwide. Climate plays one factor in why designs are different, but also variations exist due to factors such as the local acceptable criteria for thermal and humidity control, materials availability, or the ease of connecting on-site renewable energy into the local grid. However, sustainable building designs have issues or areas in common regardless of where they are built. This article provides an overview of key aspects of sustainable design in Europe, the Middle East and India.
Design Practices in Europe
Europe, which has climatic conditions ranging from Mediterranean sun and warmth to Scandinavian snow and ice, at one time had well-established passive solar designs to provide health and comfort. However, in the last century it moved to a dependence on mechanically controlled environments in buildings.
Reevaluation and subsequent realization of what actually constitutes a good quality of life has lead to codes of practice such as the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM, (1) and are supporting sociopolitical structures encouraging sustainable design planning. Cities such as Manchester and Liverpool in the United Kingdom helped lead the world into the industrial revolution and are now leading the way into clear sustainable policies.
One example of this leadership is MediaCityUK (see photo on Page 48) in Manchester, which is the first "Excellent" environmental development and pilot scheme for the new BREEAM Communities assessment that rates a mixed use development as a whole and its plan to achieving long-term sustainability (including future-proofed energy supplies and a route to zero carbon). Table 1 highlights the BREEAM Communities categories.
During the last century, the UK and the rest of Europe recovered from the rapid developments that had taken place during the industrial revolution, which were underpinned by the use of cheap fossil fuels. Although lifestyles improved significantly, the pace of change lead to inefficient and wasteful, sometimes harmful practices and the lessons learned have lead to a better understanding of what real quality of life is about and why community sharing, health, well-being and socio-economic factors are so important to a happy lifestyle.