Green and Sustainable Architecture in Cyprus
An Architect’s Perspective
The global environmental crisis is reaching breaking point, with the impact of climate change and environmental pollution felt around the world. In response, the construction industry has seen significant innovation and development when it comes to green and sustainable buildings. However, defining what is ‘green and sustainable’ in the architectural context can be a challenge.
An energy efficient, self sustainable development in the countrysite is not necessarily green. Especially if we destroy the natural environment to build it. To be green or sustainable, a building must incorporate multiple diverse facets. These elements might include energy efficiency – the conservation of energy or use of sustainable energy – as well as the environmental impact of building materials, the location of a building and its final operational impact on the surrounding natural, social or cultural environment.
Sustainable architecture challenges
A green building should reduce, eliminate or proactively offset these environmental impacts, through sustainable design, construction method or operation. Furthermore, the life cycle of the building, as well as carbon, waste, water usage and energy emissions are all factors that green architecture should take into account.
Today, environmental damage caused by the surface expansion of urban areas, and the simultaneous shrinkage of the rural countryside, is catalysing a serious rethink into the feasibility of current development models. Architects, master-planners and engineers must question the way we have been working and contribute to the innovation and progress to find a new sustainable model.
UDSarchitects has worked with many renowned international architectural and engineering firms, on the design and construction of large-scale, high density and high rise buildings. This building type is the subject of particular environmental debate, with much divisiveness of opinion regarding their contribution to the architectural character, environment and urban fabric of a city.
On one side, these high density developments help to minimise urban surface expansion, thus protecting remaining rural areas, countryside and nature from being built on. On the other, they significantly burden surrounding urban areas, negatively impacting the historical, architectural and cultural character of the city, as well as the natural environment, coastlines, and the comfort of citizens. However, with innovation, even high density architecture can be green or sustainable.
What are we doing at UDS
For the last 10 years, UDSarchitects has been committed to staying up-to-date with latest good-practices and design innovations, participating in discussions and listening to the concerns and needs of our fellow colleagues, clients, associates and citizens regarding sustainable and green design and construction. Sustainable design practices and bioclimatic design approaches and operations are incorporated into our projects from the very start of the concept design phase.
We begin our design workflow by asking the following questions regarding the green characteristics and sustainability of our projects:
- How can we minimise the impact of the proposed design proposal on the natural environment?
- How does the design proposal respect and enrich the surrounding cultural and historic environment?
- How can we achieve urban and social integration with our proposal?
- How can we maximise the energy efficiency and minimise the carbon and pollution footprint of the building?
Answering these questions, we can obtain and agree on specific green objectives and guidelines for each client. These objectives are met during the schematic design and design development of the project, using innovative solutions and latest technologies that in turn work to improve the quality of life of those using the building and the surrounding areas.
Imperio House – A ‘green’ building case study
A recent example of UDSarchitect’s green architecture approach can be seen in Imperio House, for our client Imperio Properties. The end result is one of the most energy efficient and sustainable office buildings in Cyprus, well integrated into the existing urban fabric in Limassol. The block has attained a Category A Energy Efficiency Certificate and nearly net zero-energy efficiency, meaning it benefits from significant annual energy savings.
From the very early design stages, UDS had to find a solution for the excessive sunlight penetration into the building, which would cause discomfort due to high temperatures and reflection from the sun. In order to solve this issue, we needed to find a system that would protect the building from direct sunlight.
Another challenge was to cover a large proportion of the energy requirements of the building using energy systems implemented in the project. Conventional solar or photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof were not an option, as the block featured a roof garden. Moreover, any solutions needed to be cost effective, as we also had a construction budget cost to follow.
We began by examining how the sun would affect the building throughout the day and at specific times of year. We then challenged our traditional methods and systems, to find the best possible sustainable solutions in terms of cost, ease of construction and maintenance. The solution was to design a system consisting of PV panels on the façade of the building, which would automatically rotate in a way that follows the sun, solving the shading issue, while simultaneously generating energy. These uniquely placed panels make the building fully energy sustainable, reducing electricity consumption by using the natural resource of the sun.
Antoniades + Eleftheriou UDSarchitects is a leading architectural firm in Cyprus with branches in Limassol and Paphos. Founded in 1996 by Pavlos Antoniades and Andreas Eleftheriou, today the firm is known today for its portfolio of local and international landmark residential, resort, mixed-use and commercial projects. As experts in sustainable architecture, UDSarchitects’ workflow will continue to ‘interrogate’ conventional systems, to further evolve green and sustainable design parameters.