Sustainable living has progressed from basic recycling and conservation to innovative technologies and designs. Sustainable design has already exploded on the scene for architects and engineers who are learning to build in harmony with the natural environment using renewable natural resources. The new green building designs use a more dynamic approach to internal building systems working in conjunction with the natural environment.
The sustainable design concept begins with ways to reduce the negative environmental impact our buildings have and improve the balance between the natural environment and indoor living space. This is achieved through creative and purposeful designs that integrate the main systems within a building. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) design, plumbing design, and electrical design can be constructed to complement one another and work together to produce an energy efficient model.
HVAC systems can be designed to include alternative sources for heating such as natural passive solar heat through something as simple as window placement. The design of window placement can also promote the natural flow of air throughout the building.
Plumbing systems can be designed to use both active and passive solar heating for hot water. The hot water tank that maintains the hot water can then be routed throughout the building for an additional source of natural heat through the HVAC system. Gray water can be recycled for other uses and even waste water can be used for composting in rural settings.
Electrical systems are already being designed to use one or more renewable energy sources such as solar, thermal, and wind to harness power. There are already numerous ways to conserve energy through efficient appliances and lighting that are available in the marketplace.
Ultimately the key to sustainable design and sustainable living is by building structures where systems are dynamic and integrated. The actual design of the building, the way each system works with other systems, and the use of passive and renewable power sources will play a major role in sustainable living.