How to design happy and healthy buildings, adapted to future generations?

This article is sponsored by VELUX

The U.S. construction industry has a key role to play in ensuring global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, with the built environment accounting for 40% of global GHG emissions and residential buildings alone responsible for 20% of global emissions. The urgency to take a closer look at the built environment has been particularly heightened following the U.S. return to the Paris Agreement and following the Inflation Reduction Act, which shed light on the consumption of US Energy and Emissions.

The complexity of reducing emissions from the sector arises from the need to strike a balance between meeting housing demand and prioritizing environmental sustainability. This is further compounded by the need to decarbonize buildings at all stages of the construction life cycle. One that tackles embodied carbon, operational carbon and end-of-life carbon. The global nature of the industry means that any solution will need to be rapidly scalable and require collaboration across global supply chains.

However, the decarbonization of buildings should not be the only topic at the forefront of this industrial movement. Our approach must be more holistic. One that encourages a symbiotic relationship between people and the planet. The global challenges we face today are galvanizing ambitions for a new construction standard and helping to balance people and the planet. VELUX, the global manufacturer of roof windows, has developed a project rooted in a commitment to balancing the goal of decarbonizing buildings with creating a happy and healthy community for people.

In 2023, Copenhagen will take on the title of World Capital of Architecture as VELUX unveils its Living Places project in the newly celebrated city in collaboration with architects EFFEKT, engineers MOE and contractors Enemærke & Petersen. Living Places is a new way of thinking about homes and places and will showcase 1:1 solutions that reduce carbon emissions and deliver healthy homes and communities. Demonstrating that we don’t have to wait for future technology to transform the built environment into a responsible and regenerative one, this new way of thinking focuses on using simple building systems that require little maintenance with upgrades. level and easy repairs. It balances low-carbon buildings with a well-designed and adaptable home for the community and that’s the direction the industry should be moving in. Living Places demonstrates that we already have all the technology we need to build healthily and sustainably.

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VELUX wants to encourage systemic change in architecture and design, inspiring urban planners to pay more attention to how cities, buildings and places are built. A change that meets decarbonization goals while providing people with a healthy environment in which to live. The company’s Build for Life concept offers a compass to help designers, planners and building professionals in this industry make this change. The blueprint for a more sustainable way of life is designed around seven fundamental principles, which must all work together and not in silos:

  • Affordability
  • Flexibility
  • Quality
  • locality
  • Community
  • Health
  • Environment

In addition, indoor climates play a huge role in an individual’s health. Indoor climatic hazards such as noise, humidity and lack of heat affect many homes around the world. These areas need to be addressed to create happy, healthy and sustainable homes of the future. To back this up, data from the Healthy Homes Barometer 2022, an annual research-based report, shows the value of renovation on health, happiness and improved environmental footprint. By investing in the renovation of the housing stock, politicians have the opportunity to invest not only in the health of citizens, but also in the economy.

Buildings of the future need a holistic approach, one that balances the necessary juggling act of decarbonization, creating healthy homes, and meeting growing housing demand. The construction and built environment industry has a window of opportunity to address this issue, and we can achieve our climate goals using simple principles. Acting now is the best course of action to ensure we build a more sustainable future.

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