The role of the occupants in eco architecture

Eco architecture involves the design of buildings that save water and energy, so they feature systems to reduce waste. Modern eco buildings also take into account the welfare and health of their occupants. This approach regards a building as a system of interconnected parts.

Occupant awareness

As an integral part of the system, the occupants of the building need to be supporters of the eco approach. If a building is designed to save energy and waste, then people leaving lights and heating on when they are absent from the building is not sympathetic to the energy saving systems. Ignoring recycling schemes can also be at odds with the ethos of the building.

A culture of awareness needs to be encouraged in which all tenants are involved. In the case of a workplace, all levels of occupants from CEOs, managers and employees need to feel accountable for the ecological aspects of the building.

The Green Council

Some landlords introduce rules and regulations to implement ecological policies, but these can often be met with resistance, resulting in conflict. The Toronto-Dominion Centre Green Portal took a different approach by employing a facilitator who bought all the occupants and representatives from the landlord together to explore the issues. A Green Council was then created and made responsible for developing an ecological program. All users of the building can make their views known to this council.

This Toronto program did not start with assumptions or implement rules and regulations. It engaged with the buildings users to find a solution to save energy and reduce waste.

An important element of modern architecture is ecology and sustainability, but for this to be successful, the occupants need to be inspired to respect and cooperate with the holistic nature of an eco designed building.

Posted by Adam Lloyd
October 8, 2015

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