Sustainability and resilience are key topics of discussion among architects, engineers and builders, and they are often discussed somewhat synonymously. Increasingly added to the mix is the concept of building wellness. While these concepts do overlap and share a number of the same attributes in the built environment, it is still important to recognize that these terms are not equivalent, but rather unique in and of themselves. One cannot be achieved by default when applying the concept of another.
The approach to sustainability embodies design principles, building elements and materials collectively aimed at ensuring the longevity of a home or building, while minimizing the environmental impact not only from the original construction, but also over the long-term operation, maintenance and ultimately deconstruction of it. Sustainability also embraces social issues such as current and future community needs, connection to society, environmental justice and in general, how current generations can meet their needs without compromising that ability for future generations.
Photo credit: Therma-Tru Doors
On the other hand, resilience considers design principles, building elements and building materials collectively aimed at ensuring a home or building is able to withstand and recover from natural and manmade disasters (such as floods, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes hurricanes and other extreme weather events). Adaptability of the home or building to a changing environment well into the future is too a key tenet. In other words, sustainability puts emphasis on conserving nature and the environment from the impacts of human society, while resilience emphasizes protecting infrastructures and people from natural and man-made environmental threats.
Complimenting sustainable and resilient building design is the concept of building wellness. This approach refers to design principles, building elements and building materials collectively aimed at ensuring a home or building has a positive impact on the overall well-being of its occupants including effects on health, emotions, comfort and productivity.
Photo credit: Kolbe Windows and Doors
Historically, as construction professionals know, these concepts have been integrated into building codes, standards and basic design principles to a respectable extent. However, concerns about the negative impact and consequences civilization is having on the environment have led to more thoughtful and intense consideration of the need for sustainable, resilient and healthy design, going beyond what has been provided for previously. While there is currently no cohesive holy grail comprehensively weaving these concepts together, model building, energy and green building codes, as well as green building standards and rating programs (and now a well building standard) are helping to move the built environment in that direction. The International Building Code, International Energy Conservation Code, International Green Construction Code, the National Green Building Standard, LEED, Green Globes, Living Building Challenge and the WELL Building Standard, among others, all play a significant role in that regard but none fully cover all of the bases independently
Admirably, high performance windows, doors and skylights do cover all of the bases. They provide for superior energy efficiency, incorporate sustainable and renewable components, protect homes and buildings from natural hazards, and provide for improved health, safety and the overall well-being of occupants – all at the same time. They are fundamental components for any sustainable, resilient and healthy building design and help alleviate the challenges faced by design and construction professionals to design and build structures that are.
Photo credit: ProVia
Stay tuned for upcoming blogs taking a closer look at each of these concepts individually and why high-performance windows, doors and skylights are essential to each.
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