Special Issue "New Horizons for Sustainable Architecture"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Margani
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture (DICAr), University of Catania, Viale Andrea Doria 6, 95127 Catania, Italy
Interests: sustainable architecture; energy and seismic retrofit; innovation in building technologies; integration of renewable energy systems in the building envelope; history of construction technologies; building refurbishment; restoration of historical buildings
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the last century, advances in science and technology have certainly been fast and exciting, and have contributed to significantly improving human life conditions. However, such outstanding advances have also produced negative effects, as follows: at an environmental level, by progressively threatening the ecological balance of our planet, and at an economic and social level, by contributing to the unequal distribution of world wealth, and to the spread of controversial consumerist models.

In the very beginning, environmental problems and socio-economic imbalances aroused partial alarms and timid attempts, entrusted to the sensitivity of small social groups, which often remained isolated and accused of catastrophism. Successively, and especially recently, a much broader and deeper awareness has emerged, leading to wide manifestations for the protection of the environment and fundamental human rights. This vast collective sharing has contributed to spreading the principle of sustainability, which appropriately embraces environmental, social, and economic issues.

In the face of billions of poor people, and, today more than ever, millions of fugitives and migrants, new frontiers of research are also needed in architecture, in order to take into account the needs of the most economically and socially disadvantaged classes, as well as to promote a drastic reduction in the environmental impacts.

In this view, technological progress should be seen as an innovation engine to foster more efficient business models, services, and products, through the implementation of responsible development processes based on fair competitiveness, equity, and environmental friendliness.

Hence, the new horizons of architecture must be inspired by the principle of sustainability, in support of better distributed homes and buildings, which are affordable for everyone and respectful of the environment and mankind.

In this framework, this Special Issue aims to collect original research or review papers to address on (but not limited to) one or more of the following topics:

  • describe the need for new and innovative design approaches, building technologies, and materials to address the housing demand from the neediest classes;
  • suggest design, product, and process innovation for sustainable and affordable buildings, in case of both new constructions and renovation projects;
  • propose new participatory processes for design and construction activities able to encourage an architecture for everyone.

The studies are expected to underline the relationship between the suggested solutions and the local context, with the support of case studies (if needed), and should also highlight the potentiality of extending the outcomes to other countries with similar scenarios.

I believe that this Special Issue may contribute to sustainable architecture becoming a field of experimentation in order to face the environmental, social, and economic emergency of our time.

Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Margani
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • economic, social, and environmental sustainability
  • sustainable and affordable architecture
  • building renovation
  • design, product, and process and innovation
  • participatory processes
  • case study

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Environmental and Economic Sustainability for the Building Envelope of Low-Carbon Schools
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1702; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041702 - 04 Feb 2021
Abstract
To achieve a carbon-free economy by 2050, the construction of low-carbon schools in Italy must select the proper structural and technological solutions for the building envelope while ensuring a low economic cost. The aim of this study was to analyze and compare several [...] Read more.
To achieve a carbon-free economy by 2050, the construction of low-carbon schools in Italy must select the proper structural and technological solutions for the building envelope while ensuring a low economic cost. The aim of this study was to analyze and compare several technological solutions for the building envelope and the related structural solutions in terms of thermo-dynamic properties, energy performance, environmental sustainability parameters, and economic evaluations, to obtain one or more alternatives. After a general study, the binomial load-bearing structure–external wall was investigated given its strong influence on both the environment and the total cost. The solutions were used in a new typological model for the kindergarten. All the solutions are comparable from an energy and environmental point of view, obtaining a primary energy demand of <25 kWh/(m2year) and an environmental impact of <20 kWh/(m2year). However, considering the economic factor and analyzing the binomial load-bearing structure–external wall, the advisable solutions are those that use wooden structures with insulation layer in wood fiber as they have a significantly lower environmental impact, along with the same good energy performance and have an acceptable cost compared to other analyzed solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons for Sustainable Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
An Energy-Resilient Retrofit Methodology to Climate Change for Historic Districts. Application in the Mediterranean Area
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1422; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031422 - 29 Jan 2021
Abstract
Focusing on the uncertainties of climate change and its effects on the built environment, on the energy responsibilities of residential building stock and on the dichotomy between the transformation and preservation of cultural heritage with a long-term perspective, this paper proposes a detailed [...] Read more.
Focusing on the uncertainties of climate change and its effects on the built environment, on the energy responsibilities of residential building stock and on the dichotomy between the transformation and preservation of cultural heritage with a long-term perspective, this paper proposes a detailed methodology aimed at managing energy retrofit transformations and preservation actions in historic districts following “resilience thinking.” The proposed methodology pursues the traditional process of retrofitting for cultural heritage, and identifies—on building and component scales—a structural process aimed at: (i) recognizing and testing the adaptive qualities of traditional built constructions to climate change based upon the genius loci experience; (ii) diagnosing critical energy emergencies which occurred due to historical transformations or exposure to criticalities of climate change; (iii) identifying and managing improvement requirements according to priority levels of transformation (MUERI). The test on a representative case study in the south of Italy (Mediterranean area) highlighted some significant results: (i) the importance of compactness and of light-colored materials in fighting local microclimate alterations; (ii) the pivotal responsibility of roofs in current and future trends in energy consumption, promoting and testing both innovative and traditional solutions; (iii) the reduction into a limited number of buildings cases to assess, solving the complex and various combinations of features, with which suitable solutions and guidelines are associated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons for Sustainable Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
Decision Support System for the Sustainable Seismic and Energy Renovation of Buildings: Methodological Layout
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10273; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410273 - 09 Dec 2020
Abstract
In Italy, as in many other European countries, a large part of the real estate was built before the issue of restrictive regulations regarding seismic resistance and energy efficiency. Consequently, most existing buildings show inadequate structural and energy performance. However, although a combined [...] Read more.
In Italy, as in many other European countries, a large part of the real estate was built before the issue of restrictive regulations regarding seismic resistance and energy efficiency. Consequently, most existing buildings show inadequate structural and energy performance. However, although a combined renovation is highly recommended, and despite relevant tax incentives which are currently available, the building retrofit market is still struggling to take off. In fact, the lack of information and/or awareness of the involved parties and the consequent difficulty for condominiums to approve the retrofit works are often insuperable obstacles. A Decision Support System (DSS) may help in evaluating and comparing different combined renovation scenarios, thus promoting the regeneration of the building stock. This study presents a new methodology for the selection of the optimal building renovation scenario through a DSS, which is conceived as a tool to allow a quick, simple and effective identification of the best retrofit strategy, based on a priority scale (e.g., costs and duration of intervention, disruption to the occupants, environmental sustainability, energy savings, thermal comfort, structural safety). For this purpose, the DSS calculates suitable performance indices and relative costs. Finally, the system proposes a ranking of the best combined retrofit scenarios. This research study is still ongoing and next steps will deal with the calibration of the proposed methodology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons for Sustainable Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
An AHP-Based Methodology for Decision Support in Integrated Interventions in School Buildings
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 10181; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310181 - 06 Dec 2020
Abstract
The recovery and requalification of built heritage are, in Europe and all over the world, a central issue in relation to current international policies. In recent years, there has been a considerable growth in research within this field, favoring the implementation of intervention [...] Read more.
The recovery and requalification of built heritage are, in Europe and all over the world, a central issue in relation to current international policies. In recent years, there has been a considerable growth in research within this field, favoring the implementation of intervention methodologies in the real estate assets of public and private property. With this study, we intend to focus attention on the redevelopment of existing school buildings, taking into account, from an integrated perspective, different aspects related to energy and environmental retrofit, the improvement of seismic safety, and socio-economic assessments. A significant impact of the study that was carried out will be favoring the more disadvantaged classes and a reduction in school drop-out, which in some cases is caused by the decentralized dislocation of the complexes or by inadequate structures. The research consists of the development of a tool to support the planning and programming of interventions for school building modernization, with a view to environmental, economic, and social sustainability. In order to take into account the multiplicity of the aspects considered, among the methods of multi-criteria analysis for decision-making aims the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) method was applied, which allowed us to analyze and compare different alternatives through evaluation criteria, reaching the definition of a priority scale. This process makes it possible to identify those interventions that achieve the best compromise between community needs and the planners’ goals. The evaluation procedure is validated through the application on a concrete case study, which is a school building located in the province of Avellino, in the south of Italy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons for Sustainable Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
Community-Based Processes for Revitalizing Heritage: Questioning Justice in the Experimental Practice of Ecomuseums
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9270; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219270 - 08 Nov 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Heritage is not only what societies inherit from the past: it is also an opportunity for practicing the principles of sustainability in the making of the future. A community-based approach is pivotal for generating long lasting processes aimed at revitalizing heritage. This assertion [...] Read more.
Heritage is not only what societies inherit from the past: it is also an opportunity for practicing the principles of sustainability in the making of the future. A community-based approach is pivotal for generating long lasting processes aimed at revitalizing heritage. This assertion has been widely stated in several norms and conventions, such as the 2000 European Landscape Convention and the 2005 European Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society. Some practices aimed at revitalizing heritage with a community-based approach can be ascribed to the organizational form of the so-called ecomuseums, born in France in the 1970s and today spread worldwide. Ecomuseums soon became a tool for organizing community-based processes aimed at protecting and enhancing heritage in its various facets while promoting local development. However, not every existing ecomuseum is also able to grasp the opportunity of including disadvantaged persons and guaranteeing the right to heritage for all. This paper discusses the innovative elements and criticalities of ecomuseums, questioning how could they target heritage’s enhancement as well as justice simultaneously. This paper gains evidence from an ongoing action-research process and provides policy recommendations for EU southern regions that are now starting to experiment with the practice of ecomuseums, such as Sicily (IT). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons for Sustainable Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
Landscape Sustainability of Architecture in Fernando Menis’s Work: A Sensitive Design Rooted in Volcanic Nature
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8711; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208711 - 20 Oct 2020
Abstract
The many declinations of the idea of sustainability in architecture concern different disciplinary areas as well as all phases of the construction process. Alongside the more established categories of the sustainability of materials used and the technical construction processes and economic investments mobilized, [...] Read more.
The many declinations of the idea of sustainability in architecture concern different disciplinary areas as well as all phases of the construction process. Alongside the more established categories of the sustainability of materials used and the technical construction processes and economic investments mobilized, there are now new facets of the idea of sustainability. They affect the impact that architecture can have on communities in terms of social relations and quality of context of life. This work explores the idea of landscape sustainability of architecture, understood as the ability of man-made interventions to belong to the context and the inhabitants, while promoting forms of alliance with the ecosystems at multiple spatial and temporal scale. Starting from the analysis of some trends in contemporary architecture that deals with these problems, the research identifies the volcanic environment as a terrain for exploration, with particular interest in its natural characteristics and dynamic interactions with anthropic contexts. After choosing the region of Macaronesia as a case study, the research focuses on the work of Fernando Menis. As an architect from the Canary Islands, he has developed his own modus operandi which, while rooted in its original context, is inspired by principles of social, cultural, and landscape sustainability of architecture that are valid today everywhere. The objective of this work is therefore to draw a reflection from his architectural poetics, with the intention of outlining the features of a possible contemporary design posture based on principles of landscape sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons for Sustainable Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
Energy, Seismic, and Architectural Renovation of RC Framed Buildings with Prefabricated Timber Panels
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4845; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124845 - 13 Jun 2020
Cited by 5
Abstract
In seismic European countries most of the residential building stock is highly energy-intensive and earthquake-prone because it was built before the enforcement of the most recent energy and seismic codes. Furthermore, this stock often shows a low architectural quality due to poor maintenance [...] Read more.
In seismic European countries most of the residential building stock is highly energy-intensive and earthquake-prone because it was built before the enforcement of the most recent energy and seismic codes. Furthermore, this stock often shows a low architectural quality due to poor maintenance and/or construction and design deficiencies: for all these reasons, it needs deep renovation, but the use of common energy and seismic upgrading techniques is often unsustainable in terms of costs, work duration, and occupants’ disturbance. Therefore, new integrated, affordable, fast, and low-disruptive renovation actions are strongly needed. This study proposes an innovative energy, seismic, and architectural renovation solution for reinforced concrete (RC) framed buildings, based on the addition of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels to the outer walls, in combination with wooden-framed panels. The two panels integrate insulation and cladding materials in order to improve the energy performance and the architectural image of the renovated building. Moreover, the CLT panels are connected to the existing RC frame through innovative seismic energy dissipation devices. In case of an earthquake, these devices in combination with the CLT panels reduce the drift demand of the building, preventing or reducing structural damages and consequent repair costs. In particular, this paper investigates the technical feasibility, the energy efficiency, and the architectural enhancement of the proposed retrofitting system. To this purpose, dynamic thermal simulations were conducted on a typical multi-story residential building from the 1960s, located in Catania, Italy. The results indicated that this retrofitting technique considerably improved the energy performance of the selected building, with a reduction of the global energy demand up to nearly 60%. The presented study is part of a larger research project aimed at also investigating, in a further stage, the seismic performance achievable by the above-mentioned renovation solution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons for Sustainable Architecture)
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Open AccessArticle
Memory as Material of the Project of Sustainability
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4126; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104126 - 18 May 2020
Abstract
The concept of sustainability is multidimensional and includes institutional, social, cultural, environmental, and economic dimensions. It shows the extent to which humans and the environment are interdependent. The multidisciplinary drive of research applied to sustainability, therefore, stems from the awareness of an interconnected [...] Read more.
The concept of sustainability is multidimensional and includes institutional, social, cultural, environmental, and economic dimensions. It shows the extent to which humans and the environment are interdependent. The multidisciplinary drive of research applied to sustainability, therefore, stems from the awareness of an interconnected world. Man, endowed with the gift of memory, establishes with the environment mnemonic relationships, from recollections to oblivion. Memory also protects us from past events because we remember the perceptions and feelings experienced during personal or collective circumstance. Starting from this perspective, a reflection is proposed on how memory, as a tool and measure of human knowledge, can offer solutions to both the problem of sustainability and to the development of processes and projects based on shared values. The concept of memory can also include things or objects as they store knowledge, meanings and memories to be discovered. The various forms memory takes, are to be considered the material through which man decodes and builds time and space. Hence, memory has always been the bedrock of sustainability as it works as a common theme across generations until its goals are achieved. In space, these mnemonic relationships are manifest in terms of heritage and nature. Nonetheless, the outcome of these considerations is that in order to use memory as an instrument of the project of sustainability it is necessary to redefine, through their interconnections, the concepts of both memory and sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Horizons for Sustainable Architecture)
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