Sustainable Structural Design: Conceptual Design of Adaptable Commercial Buildings
This paper examines some of the principles in conceptual design of commercial buildings thatenhance the adaptability of a structure to different uses. These principles allow a building tobe designed with increased longevity improving the potential environmental sustainability ofthe structure. The purpose of this research is to attempt to fill part of the gap in currentmethods of sustainable building design.The most prominent aspect addressed in the design of a sustainable building is energyefficiency. However, all buildings house embodied energy, the energy and resources used inconstruction, and all buildings demolished significantly add to waste that ends up in landfill.If a building is adaptable it can be easily adjusted to different uses. Therefore, constructionthat not only embraces energy-efficiency but also longevity and flexibility, through adaptabledesign, has much greater sustainable properties in that it has the potential to reduce long-termresource use and waste. It is impossible to predict exactly how buildings will be used in thefuture and what needs future societies will have. Therefore, the main factor determiningadaptability is flexibility.This paper will begin with an overview of how adaptability has the potential to improve thesustainability of commercial buildings. Structural features of adaptable design will beexamined; for example durability of main structural elements, inbuilt redundancy, large freecolumnspace and floor to ceiling heights, flexible facades, and flexible location of services.Finally, current incorporation of adaptable design and the main challenges for the future aredescribed. The paper explores the conflict between the extra capital costs for including somedegree of structural redundancy with the long term saving when the building is remodelled orrenovated.>
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