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Sunday, October 14, 2007


For Oct 15 2007, I am taking an opportunity to join the many voices calling on humanity to start to take an active interest in the welfare of our environment. I am going to touch on an aspect of caring for the environment that I intend to make part of my career practice as an architect and that is the issue of Sustainable Design.

The entire idea behind sustainability in design is to ensure that a building / design's can take care of itself without destroying the environment it is placed in. As societies have grown, the encroachment upon the land has magnified to such extents that our pollutants have in most cases changed the micro climate of some regions. Case in point, if you live in a city like Lagos, Nigeria, inquire from those who have lived there for as long as thirty years and compare daily temperatures or annual rainfall averages and you will see that there have been major differences.

I am not sure if I can battle global pollutants and pollution but I am quite sure that I can decide that my creativity is directed towards projects that are "green" in their design, construction and use.

My ideas are targeted for my country where innovations in design are required to help reshape the images of cities as the country tries to reshape its image of itself.

1. My buildings/ designs must utilise effectively natural light.
If there is one thing Africa has, it is the sun. It shines incredibly. Designing to allow for as much natural light as possible means that you will need less artificial lighting and thus a reduction in energy costs.
Harvesting this same solar energy can be used to power the building and that will result in less dependence on public supplied power. In developing countries, this energy is powered by coal or or gas (from oil)...imagine harnessing energy that does not have to violate the earth as much.

2. Reduction of CO2 emissions:
For every space to be occupied, the designer has to take into account the means by which those who will occupy the building will get there. In lay man's terms: in today's world of vehicular transport as an expedited means of movement, you have to create parking.
Parking lots become serious heat islands that emit serious hot gases into the air, most especially in extreme heat when the tar that covers the lot starts to melt.
A solution: under ground parking.
If it is a single family home, lift the building above the ground and place the parking beneath it.

If it is a multi-use building or complex, you can excavate beneath the ground to ramp down to a parking lot. Light wells at the walls can be incorporated to bring in natural light beneath the earth and at night sensored lighting can be used to limit a waste of energy used.

3. Another way to eliminate CO2 emissions is to cool the building with the use of a green roof. Depending heavily on air conditioning units to cool the building means that these machines will release alot of CO2 as time wears on- a detriment to air quality and the ozone layer.
A green roof cools the building and provides a unique aesthetic.

Other ideas include the conservation of water by incorporating a filtration system that treats and recycles grey water (water from the kitchens, sinks and bath tubs.)Instead of wood, think "green" and think bamboo.

I don't know what you do, what you like to do or what you plan to do but I am sure if you give it some thought you will see that in fact you have many ways of making a positive impact on the environment.


rethots said...

Interesting subject. All options (opinions) are rather creative. However, w.r.t the single family unit; lifting the building could actually increase the cost. As an architect you consider a design vis-a-vis functionality, aesthetics & cost. Rather than use asphalt, you could compact granite stones for the parking area; then make plant trees to shade the parking areas. What you think?

CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS said...

That is a great idea.
U seem very knowledgeable about design...what do u do?

cally-waffybabe said...

Recycling in Naija? Okay make i go find mumu subject to contribute to...

יש (Yosh) said...

Nice concepts...we need to start with energy back here first, and most other stuff will follow. The environment is polluted with carbon emissions and other recyclable and non-bio-recyclable materials.

RE: housing, It seems, in most states (e.g. Lagos), things have almost gone to a point where 'repairs' will require a complete overhaul of things and not to think about all that goes with that. It will be reasonable that henceforth, whatever else that needs to be done in form of building and additions to the physical environment should go through strict guidelines and make people become more environmentally responsible.

Of course, like most things, it starts with YOU & ME...the bits and pieces and then things will work its way up to society at large.

I know someone who's working on some Waste mgt. thing for the Ondo State Govt. Things are on the drawing board now...

Black Man Comes said...

feloow bisonite? well anm alum here. are u participating in the home coming? i dont have the calendar suppose i could look online.

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