Sustainability should be considered during each phase of a building’s life - construction, use, and end of life. This captures both the present and future effects that a building will have on the environment. The materials chosen for construction may be renewable resources, such as sustainably sourced wood or bamboo, in order to decrease negative impacts on the environment. Common construction materials, such as traditional concrete, may be replaced with more environmental alternative concretes.
Much of the energy consumption for a building comes from the use of the space throughout the building’s lifetime. Therefore, it is essential to incorporate sustainable features that may help offset these energy demands. Some examples include rainwater catchment systems, solar panels, and green spaces within the building space.
At a building’s end of life, the materials in the structure may be recycled for future use, which provides a sustainable construction material alternative for future buildings. The life span of a structure is highly dependent on the durability of the materials used for construction. Although more sustainable materials (e.g. wood, bamboo, alternative cements) may result in less immediate negative impact, the durability of these materials must be considered in order to maximize building life span. There is a tradeoff between material usage and structure durability that should be considered when determining sustainability.
The Phipps Conservatory is an example of a sustainably designed building. The space caters to educational and research needs related to sustainability, which promotes sustainability for future generations. There is a focus on the close relationship between the natural and built environments, which demonstrates the connection between human health and environmental health.