Despite what many people think, architects and developers don’t need to compromise their artistic sensibilities in order to construct a sustainable project. Concerns about a building’s environmental impact often take priority over an architect’s own artistic vision of what a building should look like–its form, aesthetics, and spatial design. But this doesn’t have to be the case. These days, more architects, developers, and designers are leveraging structural form to accomplish their sustainability goals. A new cohort of spatially and formally unique projects has emerged; these ‘green’ buildings neither perform or look like anything the real estate industry has seen before.

These days, sacrificing architectural design and style is completely unnecessary; when it comes to aesthetics and sustainability goals, real estate professionals don’t have to compromise. Whether you’re an architect, developer, interior designer, or merely interested in the topic, here are four tips to keep in mind when it comes to constructing beautiful and environmentally-friendly designs.

    1. Work With A Team You Trust 

      Whether an architect, developer, and contractor work well together can make or break a project. Per a common misconception, architects and designers are concerned primarily with the image and appearance of a building and developers (per the same misconception) don’t appreciate the innovation and design involved in building. This oversimplification is totally false. Increasingly, due to the growth of urban planning and sustainable development, the two roles are intertwined, with sustainable architecture and construction relying on holistic approaches to work projects. To ensure your project achieves its sustainability goals in an intentional way, check in with team members to ensure all are on the same page.

    2. “Passive Design” Strategies

      One building trend that’s gaining more attention of late is the use of passive design elements. So-called “passive design” strategies, such as the inclusion of solar chimneys, trombe walls, overhangs, and the orientation of a building for solar concerns, rely on intentional arrangement and placement–as opposed to technology–to complement and respond to their physical environment. Other passive design techniques include the use of adjustable openings (to create a pressure differential) to encourage cross-ventilation and designing structures with U-, E-, and H-shaped plans and tall ceilings.

    3. Material-Based Approaches

      Depending on the climate and weather patterns of a building’s location, innovative insulation and construction materials can be leveraged to accommodate extreme conditions. In colder regions, for example, some new buildings are creatively using glass blocks that contain opaque thermal mass to create new forms of day-lit office space.

    4. Embrace Mother Nature

      Mother nature has a lot to teach us when it comes to sustainable form and architecture. Biodesign, an exciting new discipline which integrates functional ideas that are present in nature, zeroes in on the natural world for sustainable inspiration. Biodesign projects are re-imagining the relationship between buildings and nature. Design strategies that are already mainstream–such as landscaping and extensive planting–could also double as a climate change-mitigating action. Incorporating nature into sustainable architectural design shows a lot of promise and potential when it comes to engineering sustainable building solutions.