Chiara Del Core 12 mar 2019 Articles 0 comments

1. Low environmental impact design: an unconditional necessity

How social change affects housing models

How social change affects housing models One of the most debated current issues is that concerning the environmental problems of our planet, human carelessness and the speed of consumption and lifestyles that have progressively eroded the health of the environment around us. This situation may at first seem insurmountable but it is necessary to stop, reflect and understand how starting from small things, it can be remedied. Since the architectural discipline deals with those same artifacts that form part of the man-made environment, it is of fundamental importance to start from a more careful design, in order to guarantee a slow but fundamental change that brings climatic, economic and vital benefits. This is the modus operandi able to satisfy the needs of today's generations without compromising the well-being of future ones, establishing a balanced relationship with the surrounding environment.
In recent years, the growing awareness of the need for a remedy useful for everyone has borne its fruits but it is only the beginning of a slow process. According to the data collected, 40% of CO2 emissions and 38% of waste are produced by the buildings in which we live, work and spend our existence. Consequently, it appears clear that a clear change in the economic system from linear to circular is necessary. In fact, starting from the Industrial Revolution, we have been used to producing, consuming and disposing of goods after the first and apparent single use.
It is necessary to think of resources as a wealth to be reused, and in the same way in construction the life of the building must include construction, use, change and reuse according to cyclical phases.
It is also of fundamental importance to encourage renovations and the recovery of the existing one by exploiting materials and solutions several times, according to a more versatile perspective.

2. The LEED protocol: what it consists of

Given the premises, it is necessary to ensure that our buildings have an added value and do not themselves contribute to the progressive destruction of the environment.
There are several measures to promote the green aspect of buildings and one of them is the LEED energy certification program, the most widespread in the world.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) favors sustainability applied to buildings by covering all the design phases, from the concept to the actual realization.
Born in the USA in the 90s through the USGBC (United State Green Building Council), it spread in Italy starting from 2009 thanks to GBC Italia which adapted the standards of the American protocol to the Italian technical-regulatory models using the measurement system international.
The tool allows to optimize the relationship between the building and the surrounding environment while respecting the parameters of sustainable design. It is structured in 7 sections organized in prerequisites and credits; while the former are mandatory for the actual certification of the building, the credits can be chosen according to the individual project and determine the final level of certification: basic (40-49 points), silver (50-59 points), gold (60 -79 points) and platinum (80 points and more).

The sections that make up the LEED are the following:

1. Sustainability of the Site ( 1 prerequisite, 8 credits - max 26 points): analyzes the building-context relationship with the aim of limiting the impact of construction activities in favor of construction methods and techniques that respect the environmental balance.

2. Water Management ( 1 Prerequisite, 3 Credits - max 10 points): examines the environmental issues related to hydrogeological aspects and promotes the intelligent use of water and the recovery of meteoric ones.

3.  Energy and Atmosphere ( 3 Prerequisites, 6 Credits - max 35 points): supports the use of renewable energy sources and the enhancement of the energy performance of buildings.

4.  Materials and Resources ( 1 Prerequisite, 7 credits - max 14 points): selects environmentally friendly materials, promotes sustainable techniques and methods in favor of reducing the environmental impact due to transport.

5.  Internal environmental quality ( 2 Prerequisites, 8 Credits - max 15 points): deals with the psycho-physical well-being inside the rooms, checking air quality, energy consumption and healthiness.

6.  Innovation in Design ( 2 credits - max 6 points): identifies new solutions consistent with sustainable design.

7.  Regional Priority  ( 1 Credit - max 4 points): attention is paid to the specificity of the site in which the building under examination is located, encouraging the designers to consider its individual characteristics.

Each project that adheres to the LEED program will be classified according to the score obtained. The latter is closely linked to the approach more or less faithful to the sustainability criteria adopted in the design phase. The Platinum level is considered the highest that can be achieved and is therefore an indication of careful and optimal planning conducted in a manner consistent with the set objectives.

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