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What is bioclimatic architecture?

Buildings, nowadays, are the biggest consumers of energy in our cities. In Spain it represents more than a quarter of total consumption of energy. This situation has led us to need to reduce our energy consumption, and  for this reason we need to fulfill bioclimatic criteria to help us  to achieve sustainability.

Bioclimatic architecture is defined as  an architecture which has  a connection with nature, it is about a  building that takes into account the climate and environmental conditions to favor thermal comfort inside. This architecture seeks perfect cohesion between design and natural elements (such as the sun, wind, rain and vegetation), leading  us to an optimization of resources. The main principles of this architecture are:

-The consideration of the  weather, hydrography and ecosystems of the environment in which buildings are built for maximum performance with the least impact.

-The efficacy and moderation in the use of construction materials, giving priority to low energy content compared to high energy.

-The reduction of energy consumption for heating, cooling, lighting and equipment, covering the remainder of the claim with renewable energy sources.

-The minimization of the building overall energy balance, covering the design, construction, use and end of its life.

-The fulfillment of requirements of hygrothermal comfort, safety, lighting and occupancy of buildings.

Looking through history  we can see how lots of architecture buildings work according to these principles. The orientation of the windows of the houses to the south for a better use of light and solar heat, or the lining of the Andalusian village houses with thermal mass materials like adobe with a layer of soil and lime to get a micro-climate inside would be two examples of  historic  architecture according to bioclimatic principles.

And  then the question is, why do not we build according to these principles? Is it expensive?. It is  proved that in a  long-term bioclimatic architecture is profitable, if we look at the bills we have to pay, coupled with rising energy prices due to the shortage of natural resources a building can justify the investment in five years. The society has to begin to become aware of that the only way to ensure our future is to optimize our consumption so that we respect the environment and achieve the desired sustainability.Due to new European legislation, in  2020 the energy consumption of buildings has to be reduced to one third of the current and we just will get this if we build  based on these principles and adapting existing buildings.

Source| Revista Ambientum, Abril 2003. Arquitectura bioclimática,conceptos básicos y panorama actual.

Image| Bioclimatic architecture. Solar orientation.

Author Spotlight

Jaime Morell

Architecture. Escuela Politécnica Superior, University Alfonso X  El Sabio,Madrid, Spain.

Architecture 2011/2012. Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Vilnius, Lithuania. Read Full

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