Architect’s Corner: Sustainable Architecture

Making a Significant Impact in Energy Efficiency

by Ameen Ayoub, founder, Ameen Ayoub Design Studio

(Editor’s Note:  Ameen Ayoub received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in architecture from Baylor University and his Master of Architecture Degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.  In 2010, he worked for acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, and was part of the design team for the Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  In 2014, he founded Ameen Ayoub Design Studio in Los Angeles, California, and since then has completed residential, office, and large industrial projects.  Currently, the studio is focusing on custom residential design work in Los Angeles.)

Sustainable design in architecture always includes sustainable building practices.  There is a broad set of principles that are followed and applied to the built environment.  In general, they are energy efficiency, renewable and low impact materials, life cycle assessment, carbon footprint, and recycling, to name a few.  The awareness of these principles and how they are utilized is at the forefront of any well-planned building.  The importance of utilizing a set of sustainability principles in today’s built environment is paramount to all of humanity.  Humanity and nature must learn to coexist in a respectful and responsible way. 

         When my office creates a design for a home, we take sustainability principles and apply them in the real world in a myriad of ways.  In many cases, we improve and expand the sustainable building practices that the local city codes require.  Many of our clients have made sustainable architecture design practices a central theme in their projects.  Some of these practices include efficient heating and cooling systems that utilize alternative energy sources in the form of passive and active systems, which either utilize the power of the sun or wind to heat and cool a home.  Currently, the residential building codes in Los Angeles, California, are now requiring all new builds in residential houses to install solar panels.  This was not the case just a year ago.  We have installed solar panels and electric charging stations in many of our residential, commercial office, and multi-residential projects.

         When it comes to current trends, one of the most popular includes automated mechanical electrical and plumbing systems, via a smart system like Savant or Lutron®, for example.  This has given clients the ability to control the building systems remotely, as well as run diagnostics and troubleshoot any problems that arise.

         We are also seeing clients asking for biophilic design strategies, which include a blend of sustainability and wellness.  These strategies, such as using Dynamic Glass that can darken or lighten according to exterior lighting conditions, or water filtration systems that infuse vitamins and minerals for drinking or for watering trees, make buildings healthier for both their inhabitants as well as the biophilic elements being used. 

         Sustainable design efforts vary throughout different regions in the United States.  For instance, in Los Angeles, current building codes are requiring more sustainable building materials, systems, and technologies to be implemented at the planning level and executed during construction.  While sustainable design and architecture are definitely on the rise, the industry is always affected by the market and affordability of these methods.  In California, we see much more sustainable design happening because the state has always led in setting the standard for the country in this area, as well as many other sectors.

         In the coming years, we predict a sharp rise in buildings connected more to automated smart systems that monitor and control.  At all levels, smart systems that are wi-fi/internet based are trending significantly.  Clients expect to have, at a bare minimum, systems that can be controlled remotely via an internet connection.  The affordability of some of the basic smart building systems will usher in more awareness of what is available for the average consumer.

         A few tips and tricks a current homeowner can start with include first identifying what current systems in their home can be upgraded easily enough to make a significant impact in energy savings and quality of interior living space.  Many times this could be as simple as replacing incandescent lighting with LED energy-efficient bulbs and installing low-flow plumbing fixtures.             For homeowners looking to make significant changes, we suggest consulting with a local architect who can help identify the areas in the home that can benefit from passive and active energy-saving solutions.  Ultimately, sustainable design principles are at the forefront of our priorities during the planning phase, throughout all project phases, and into construction.  Whether new or existing technologies are used in the designs for our projects, we are always looking forward to pushing the envelope in sustainable architecture.  Sustainability principles in architecture allow for a better and safer environment and create phenomenal buildings that are striking within the built environment.

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