The Environmentally Friendly Architect and Gardener: a How-to Guide


Looking after the planet and trying to reduce climate change is something that we all have a responsibility to do. Whether it is by cutting down on single-use plastics, creating a wildlife lawn or trying to limit our travel, there are numerous things that we can do in our everyday lives to become more environmentally friendly.

This also stems into our professional lives. We owe it to the planet to incorporate the protection of our environment into how we carry out our work, and for designers, this is especially important. By creating environmentally-friendly buildings and gardens, we can begin to lower our carbon footprint and reduce our impact on the world around us, as well as inspire people to be more environmentally friendly.

Some ideas of how you can incorporate environmentally friendly aspects into your work include:

Include a Wildlife Lawn

The Environmentally Friendly Architect and Gardener: a How-to Guide

According to lawn specialists at Mowers Online, "wildlife lawns are cultivated specifically to welcome insects such as bees and also birds. They do not just include grass, but they include plants and flowers." This is an area where you can plant wild flowers and plants, then sit back and watch the area turn into a meadow. 

The area requires little to no maintenance once it has been started. not only is valuable in helping to give the insect and local wildlife population a much-needed boost, but it can also provide entertainment and hours of amusement for the land-owners.

Flowers such as honeysuckle and foxglove are great for bees, and buddleia is perfect for butterflies and other insects.

Vertical Forest

The Environmentally Friendly Architect and Gardener: a How-to Guide

Vertical Forest by Stefano Boeri Architetti

A project designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti has seen the building of the world's first vertical forest in Milan. The buildings consist of two towers of 80m and 122m tall, which have planted about 480 large and medium-sized trees, 250 small trees, 11,000 plants and 5000 shrubs.

The idea behind the building is that it can contribute to the environment in the area, helping to absorb CO2, provide humidity, provide shade and oxygen and even build its own microclimate. It can help to create an urban ecosystem, which attracts a wealth of wildlife as well as looking great, giving back to the environment and creating a living building.


The Environmentally Friendly Architect and Gardener: a How-to Guide

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons - user Bryghtknyght

Aquaponics is a fishing and farming process that is a great idea for those who are looking at cultivating plants in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly manner - without using any nasty chemicals. 

The process involves keeping fish whose waste is recycled, creating the nutrients that are needed to keep the plants growing well. These plants, in turn, clean the water, keeping the fish healthy. It works on a cycle system, meaning that no waste is produced, both the fish and the plants are naturally sustained and up to 90% less water is used than with other agricultural methods.

Although the idea behind aquaponics is very simple, it is important to get the balances right, and some technical knowledge will be needed to incorporate it into a garden.

Green Roof

The Environmentally Friendly Architect and Gardener: a How-to Guide

Regent Park Aquatics Centre by MJMA

Whether it is set in the countryside or in the city, a green roof is an ideal way to encourage either the wild meadow growth of plants, provide room for growing fruit and vegetables or to give some much needed green space.

A green roof is constructed by simply laying a waterproof membrane over the existing roof - covering it either fully or partially. Depending on the requirements, irrigation or drainage systems can also be added, and any choice of plants. 

Depending on the kind of green roof, they can require very little attention - especially if it is left to attract local insects and wildlife, and can actually be protective for the roof - as well as acting as an insulating layer - which can also cut down on energy use within the building.

Passive Solar Architecture

The Environmentally Friendly Architect and Gardener: a How-to Guide

The idea behind passive solar architecture is to design buildings based on being able to utilise sources like the sun, whilst helping to reduce the adverse effects of the climate – such as cold weather.

At the moment, industrial and domestic buildings use about half of the world’s energy – mostly in the heating, cooling and lighting of them. For a building to be able to incorporate passive solar architecture, you would need to think about the direction of the building to be able to absorb the most amount of sun energy as well as its shape to be able to receive as much radiation as possible, and how the energy could be stored.

It is important that we all do what we can to look after the environment and creating and developing environmentally friendly buildings can play a massive part in this. By incorporating some environmentally friendly concepts into our new or refurbished buildings we can start to change things from the inside out.

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