What is Sustainable Design?

You may have heard the term “sustainable design” thrown around more and more recently. This term has been growing in popularity and is becoming a huge part of the design and architectural decisions as society becomes more environmentally aware. So, what is it, and what do you need to know about it? Here are some of the basics you should know.

What is it? 

Sustainable design (also commonly referred to as “sustainable architecture” or “sustainable building”) is the art of designing and constructing buildings with the goal of minimizing their environmental impact. In other words, they are designed to cause less harm to the environment and community around them.

How is it done?

Sustainable architecture is typically achieved through a combination of tactics–with multiple objectives in mind. In order to decrease the negative environmental impact a structure has on the environment, a sustainable architect needs to think through every way a building can cause harm. This could be through the lack of energy efficiency, the harmful materials used to construct it, or the toxins/pollution the building could create. 

Many architects start here and work backward, thinking through questions like:

  • Which reusable materials and resources can we use?
  • How can we maximize HVAC efficiency and minimize pollution? or
  • What’s the best use of waste management for this project?

Some solutions to these questions often include utilizing solar panels or wind turbines, recycled resources (such as reclaimed lumber or recycled copper), and materials that will not have detrimental effects to the community’s health and well-being long-term.

Why is it important?

Innovative, sustainable design is important because every building impacts our future. Most construction projects create a lot of waste, consume a plethora of materials, and lack the energy efficiency that can make a huge impact on the environment down the road. We will always need buildings, but we need buildings that will continue to feed the planet we live on–rather than take from it. Every sustainable building that is designed and constructed makes an impact on the community around us–something that is important for every architecture project.


The beauty in sustainable architecture is that a truly sustainable building can not only minimize the negative impact on its community, but it can in fact enhance the natural environment around it as well. At HagerSmith, we are proud to offer sustainable design services as a part of our architectural portfolio. Learn more about the architecture services we provide here