When need for energy peaked in the recent decades and the world’s energy resources decreased simultaneously, the word sustainability became very popular. From transportation to food; textile to furniture; brands show their compassion for nature by putting a “green” in front of their products’ name. “Green House” is often uttered by urbanists and architects who point out the ecologic problems of the world’s construction sector, so to speak.
Buildings consume the most energy produced in the world. According to analysis, 40% of the total energy the world consumes is spent to build, cool down, heat up, commission, and maintain buildings. Turkey has 8.5 million buildings, of which, only 10% have thermal insulation. It is so inefficient to spend all that fuel to heat up the buildings, which rapidly loses the warmth. Along with the economic loss (spending all the money on wasteful processes), carbon dioxide emissions rise, which eventually causes climate change.
It is not all about heating in Turkey, of course. Space cooling is so important in hot summers and often aligned to air conditioning. Most old air conditioners still use CFC based refrigerants which cause ozone depletion (Chlorofluorocarbons are cooling chemicals and depleting the ozone layer. They are banned by Montreal Protocol in 1994). You might use an air conditioner that uses a natural refrigerant; however, it causes ozone depletion more than CFC and HCFC based ones. This is because natural refrigerants are less efficient to cool the space, therefore, an air conditioner needs to work longer to cool, eventually consumes more electricity.
So, what is the best way to minimize the energy consumption for cooling and heating spaces? Simply; solar orientation, regional materials, and natural ventilation. Let’s take an example: Istanbulers often say “a walk nearby the Bosphorus cheers me up.” Water has a significant effect on people, but the real reason is walking nearby water in a humid climate cools down the body. Conversely, water softens the cold dry air in winter time. This softening effect is used in traditional Turkish architecture. Former practices, such as, inner pools in the middle of living rooms or inner gardens, which evaporate to humidify and cool down the room (or inner courtyard) on hot summer days.
Does a house have to follow the traditional building codes to be sustainable? No, architects and urban planners can design anything which follows some simple sustainable building tips. So, what are the sustainable design tips for an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly building in a Mediterranean climate? Follow the next blog for the answers.
Credits: Image and data linked to sources.