ARE ARCHITECTS ABLE TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES IN THE DESIGN OF SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS?
Authors: Dawson, Anthony
Many architects’ solutions to design problems are developed through an intuitive approach to the design
process. Although schools of architecture generally teach methods of determining the thermal performance
of buildings and increasingly cover issues related to the energy embodied in the building fabric, it appears
that this type of performance modelling and analysis is undertaken by only a few architects in practice.
The adequate modelling of overall building performance, particularly related to areas of environmental
concern, will become increasingly important as sustainable building practice becomes more of a critical
issue in building design.
It is contended that, before architects can adequately address sustainable issues related to their designs, they
must develop a culture in which a full understanding of the environmental performance of the proposed
building is evaluated. There is little evidence that such a culture is developing although the tools for
evaluating building performance are available in many practices. The reasons for this are many including
the cost structure of architectural fees, the difficulty in using the currently available analytical tools and the
expectations of regulators and clients.
Unless architects are pro-active in implementing a policy that leads toward a broad acceptance and
implementation of a more analytical approach to building design, there is a danger of two things occurring.
Firstly, the architecture profession will not be in a position to constructively contribute to the debate on
sustainable issues and secondly, they will be designing buildings that do not perform in such a manner as to
be considered to conform to sustainable principles. If these occur, architects will lose the opportunity to
contribute constructively and significantly to the future development of the built environment.