The role of  building designs in the war against climate change

Since the inception of time, architects and building designers have designed buildings and homes only with the purposes of shelter and aesthetics in mind. Because of this, pollution has increased almost three-fold and architects are faced with a new problem.  Most common one being designing structures that not only provide shelter and are beautiful to look at, but are also energy efficient and less polluting.

One might wonder, “How can a building cause pollution; it doesn’t do anything”. The fact is that everything inside the building contributes to pollution if not dealt with, or disposed of properly. Carbon emissions from buildings contribute to a third of the total greenhouse gases generated. This has caused an acceleration in global warming. As a result, architectural design teams are pushed to come up with new ideas to curtail the pollution caused by buildings.There have been a few attempts to reduce a building’s carbon footprint by trying out designs incorporating more greenery and non-conventional resources.


First, design teams have to analyze the causes by which a building adds to pollution. They also have to look at the energy consumed. This is  because most commercial buildings have 24 hours lighting and cooling even if there is no one working at the office.Hence efficient energy sources such as solar and wind can have a positive impact on the amount of pollution caused by the building. As of now, buildings consume almost 60% of all generated electricity and 35% of all generated energy.

There have been ideas for a widespread introduction of solar energy, but this is not feasible due to the high cost of installation for each building. Also, topographically, some regions do not receive enough sunlight that can be harnessed into energy. Designers have also tried to create structures that allow sunlight into every nook and corner of a room. This means that artificial lighting would only be necessary at night, thereby almost halving light pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.


Water, if not treated properly before disposing , can have severe effects on the people and animals in the area. Therefore recycling and reusing water will substantially reduce the need for new supply. Also the same treated water could be used for watering gardens adorning the building, making buildings more eco-friendly.

Innovations In Building Designs

Other methods by which architects are tackling climate change include construction of sponge cities, floating architecture, and vertical forests.

Sponge cities comprise of buildings made from soft materials which absorb excess water. Prominent examples of sponge cities include the Nanning Skyline in China, High Line Park in New York, and the Green Roof at the Virginia Living Museum.

Floating architecture is an attempt to cope with the rising water levels by designing structures strong and buoyant enough to float on water. The Floating Island in Seoul and Studio Octopi’s floating pools in London are examples of floating architecture.

Vertical forests have perennial shrubs spanning the outside of high rise structures. Bosco Verticale in Milan and the Trudo Vertical Forest in Eindhoven have not only been successful in decreasing CO2 levels but also provide eco-friendly accommodation.

As is apparent, architects and interior designers play a key role in the fight against climate change. We, at Vibrant Spaces,  interior designers in Chennai that are constantly looking at better ways to create spaces that are both green and sustainable.