SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE

Ecologically responsible architectural techniques and details are considered for all Centre Sky Architecture projects to help reduce heating/cooling costs, increase indoor air quality, reduce maintenance, make the most of natural light and conserve water. Local materials from the project site are used as unique details, structural elements and landscape materials, while reclaimed materials are also used and whenever possible, construction materials are recycled.

Environmentally friendly mechanical systems, types of insulation, energy efficient windows, and use of thermal mass and geothermal heating are all considered as options for each project.

CREATING A SUSTAINABLE PROJECT

Integration and a sustainable approach – Centre Sky Architecture helps research, develop and implement a host of solutions to achieve our clients’ sustainability goals, including the following opportunities:

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STEP 1: Determine ways to minimize the amount of energy needed
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STEP 2: Focus on the building envelope
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STEP 3: Passive systems – requiring little or no use of mechanical processes
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STEP 4: Approaches to energy and water efficiency
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STEP 5: Use and treatment of materials
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STEP 6: Create energy through renewable energy use, preferably generated on-site
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STEP 1: Determine ways to minimize the amount of energy needed

  • Minimizing square footage so there is less area that needs to be conditioned and/or lit
  • Minimize skin in decreasing heights
  • Siting the building away or within trees to shade, decreasing need for cooling or heating
  • Submerging the building into the ground for added insulation
  • Locating the site near other amenities, this allows building users to walk or ride bus to get around and allows sharing of resources (heating/cooling, wastewater treatment, vehicles, etc.) between users or buildings
  • Increasing building density that minimizes the impact on the surrounding environment and allows for open space

STEP 2: Focus on the building envelope

  • Thermal properties: ensuring exterior walls are appropriate for the climate it will be built in that will decrease the need for heating and cooling throughout the life of the building.
  • Thermal massing: a concept that has been around since the beginning of civilization; use large masses of materials that store heat well, such as rocks, concrete and water. When solar radiation hits these masses, they hold heat and slowly release moderating temperature swings that would otherwise occur. This means the interior of the building is protected from heat during the day, but by the time the sun is going down and the ambient air starts cooling, the heat will start being released into the building.
  • Hebel Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC): creates thermally insulated product and accomplishes a multitude of sustainable solutions within a single system –thermal and structural. This product reduces the use of many other materials, including: plywood which contains harmful glues and adhesives, fiberglass insulation with its hazardous chemicals, and drywall which is very susceptible to physical damage and discoloring creating a short life-cycle of the material. This product is also structural and eliminates the need for additional steel structural elements.AAC can be created using flyash, a by-product of industrial combustion processes, instead of using energy and resources to manufacture cement. This wall system is fire-resistant, eliminating the need for fireproofing chemicals. The insulating nature of this material creates an airtight envelope, preventing water penetration that would otherwise deteriorate other building materials. Hebel also helps minimize temperature variations reducing the loads on and increasing the efficiency of the HVAC system.Centre Sky Architecture is specialized in AAC and currently has two resorts and one custom residence in preliminary design with this product.
  • Green roof: integrated environmental building system
    • Soil acts as an insulator to the building below and insulates both sound and thermal transfer
    • Is attractive and can be a natural habitat for birds and other wildlife
    • Reduces the Urban Heat Island Effect, which is when the environment gets hotter because the surfaces within it are non-porous or solar-attracting (darker colors, etc.)
    • Can easily act as a growing medium for herbs and other small plants
    • Helps manage stormwater runoff which can cause erosion and overfills sewer systems
    • Protects the underlying roof from the harmful rays of the sun, requiring less maintenance and lengthening the life of the roof
STEP 3: Passive systems – requiring little or no use of mechanical processes
Appropriateness of the system is very dependent on location of the project as climate, local amenities and nearby features can play a big part in which systems work and which would not.

  • Orient the building to take advantage of the sun’s natural heating and lighting capabilities. Artificial lighting increases both the energy use and the cooling needs since it produces heat. To temper the suns heating and lighting, roof overhangs can be used. They allow the low angles of the winter sun to bring in light and warming rays when it is needed, while blocking out the high, glaring summer sun and heat.
  • Natural ventilation uses natural wind paths to help circulate air and bring fresh air into a building.
  • Stack ventilation is a natural ventilation system that applies the fact that hot air rises. A stack is created with a chimney or multiple level openings; when hot air seeks out the highest space (the chimney), a pull is created which draws the hot air out of the attached spaces which can then be vented out of the building.
  • Night flushing is another passive strategy used to cool a building. This straightforward concept has been around since people have. It is simply opening the interior up to the outside at night when the air is cooler and allowing the cool air to filter in to cool all of the surfaces that have gained heat during the day. Once the outside starts to heat up again, the building is closed off to keep the cold air in.

STEP 4: Approaches to energy and water efficiency

  • Occupancy sensors that automatically turn off lights when a room is vacant
  • Energy Star appliances to cut utility bills
  • Heat recovery systems that use the heat in the air being vented out of the building to heat the fresh air coming into the building
  • Solar water heaters that use the sun to heat up water running through solar collectors instead of otherwise requiring outside energy to heat it
  • Geothermal heating and cooling can work in many different climates and requires little maintenance. Geothermal uses underground or in-water loops of thermally stabilized air or water to pre-heat and pre-cool the air used for conditioning the building. It uses electric energy only to power the fans to move the air around. With this system you can also take the heat created by any mechanical process within or near the project including HVAC systems, washers and dryers, etc. This system is non-polluting and very energy efficient.
  • Evaporative cooling towers cool a building using less energy than typical cooling systems. A chimney or tower above the space that needs to be cooled will have water pumped up to the top. This water uses gravity to filter down a honeycomb-like material inside the tower that allows dry air to flow through it. The dry air picks up some of the water in the form of evaporation. The process of evaporation cools the air and the cooled air falls into the space below.
  • Rainwater catchment and greywater systems lower the amount of water needed, increasing the water efficiency of the project. In addition, low-flow fixtures and xeriscaping (using native plants which don’t require more water than what naturally occurs), further reduces water use.
  • Additional considerations: solar hot water, photo voltaics
STEP 5: Use and treatment of materials
A big part of healthy design is use and treatment of materials. Paints, glues and adhesives commonly found in many different newly manufactured building materials including carpet, paint, cabinetry, etc. let off harmful chemicals or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) that affect Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) of the building and cause health problems. These effects can be reduced by adequately airing out the building and products or by using products that are made from renewable resources or have low- or no-VOC’s. The use of natural materials is one way to create healthy IAQ.We routinely re-use and/or re-assign the use of materials so new materials will not have to be manufactured or end up in a landfill. Many materials might be considered waste from one system, but can be used as another benefiting material; for instance, flyash is waste from combustion, yet can be used to bond other components.
STEP 6: Create energy through use of renewable energy, preferably generated on-site

  • Solar energy has come a long way in the last few years in efficiency and applicability
  • Energy Star appliances to cut utility bills
  • Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) can now be incorporated into common building materials, including shingles, metal roofing, windows and building facades
  • Photovoltaic panels can be integrated into many common building systems such as roofs, covered walkways and building exteriors while remaining inconspicuous
  • Wind turbines can be used vertically to effectively, efficiently, and safely generate energy with an attractive, progressive presence
  • Solar hot water panels are maintenance free and can be used year-round to provide eco-friendly hot water heating