In general, the Environment is considered as our surroundings. It can be natural or man-made. Sometimes, it can be a combination of the above two.
The Built Environment is the surrounding created by man. However, it may be with the help of the natural environment. Or sometimes, it may be without the help of the natural environment.
1. Planning requirements.
2. Building Regulations.
3. Land restrictions by vendor or lessor.
4. Availability of services.
5. Local amenities including transport.
6. Subsoil conditions.
7. Levels and topography of the land.
8. Adjoining buildings or land.
9. Use of building.
10. Daylight and view aspects.
The building as an environmental envelope
Even from ancient times, man tried to modify and control the environment in which he lives to suit his requirements. During those days, caves and other natural shelters used as primitive houses, to protect from the external environment. As civilization has developed, the nature of these shelters has become more superior and complex. Simply, we can say, humankind developed from caves and natural forms of shelter to simple and then to complex artificial enclosures. However, these creations and developments have depended upon the nature of the climate in specific locations and the availability of building materials locally.
The use of protective elements is not the only way used to control the human environment. The use of energy to assist in environmental moderation has been fundamental after the discovery of fire. Primitive people used fire to provide light and heat.
Buildings are used for different purposes. Most of the time, we use buildings to house people. Or else, we use buildings to place machinery and equipment and do different types of processes, or to run offices, so on. So each occasion, it exerts differing demands in terms of the internal environment. So this has resulted in the development of buildings with associated services capable of moderating the internal conditions within desired parameters with great accuracy.
Performance requirements of the building fabric
One of the performance requirements of present-day buildings is to provide an acceptable internal environment. However, the level of performance of buildings depends upon several factors. The importance we place upon these individual performance requirements varies from situation to situation. Statute, regulations, and guidelines set only the minimum standards to meet. These are issued as Building Regulations. And the guidelines in Building Regulations must be adhered to in every instance.
The performance requirements of buildings may be summarized as follows.
To satisfactorily fulfill the functions required of a building, it must be able to withstand the loadings imposed upon it without suffering deformation or collapse. This demands the effective resistance of building elements to loadings or their safe transfer through the structural elements to the ground.
For the long-term performance of the structure and its fabric, it is very essential that the ability of components of the building to withstand the vagaries and hostilities of the environment in which they are placed. The ability of the building elements to maintain their integrity and functional ability for the required period is very important. It is fundamental to the ability of the building to perform in the long term. However, this factor mostly affects in the event of a fire in buildings.
The external fabric of a given building must provide an acceptable standard of resistance to the passage of heat. It is necessary to maintain internal conditions within fixed parameters and also to conserve energy. However, the level of thermal insulation which is desirable in an individual instance is dependent upon the use of the building, its location, and so on.
Protection from weather and Exclusion of moisture
Moisture may enter into a building in the form of groundwater rising through capillary action, precipitation, or other possible sources. Anyhow, the building envelope should resist the passage of moisture from the exterior into the building. This ingress of moisture to the interior of the building can have several undesirable effects. It may cause the decay of timber elements, deterioration of surface finishes, and decorations. Besides, it is a risk to the health of occupants. Also, it may affect certain processes carried out in the building. Therefore, details must be incorporated in building design to resist and prevent the passage of moisture, from all undesirable sources to the interior. For the satisfactory performance of any building fabric, the exclusion of wind and water is an essential factor.
When designing and constructing a building, the passage of sound from the exterior to the interior, or between interior spaces, should be considered. However, the level of sound transmission which is acceptable will vary considerably, depending upon the nature of the use of the building and its position.
Especially in industrial and commercial buildings, the ability of the building to cope with and respond to changing user needs has become very important. Therefore, the level of required future flexibility must consider in the initial design of the building. Sometimes it is handled by buildings with large open spaces originally. Then it is later subdivided by the use of partitions, which may be readily removed and relocated.
The issue of building aesthetics can be considered as personal. Some consider the importance of this aspect as very minimal. While for others, it is highly important. For example, the appearance of a factory building in an industrial estate is far less important than that of a star class restaurant in the city center. The extent to which aesthetics are considered will have an unavoidable effect on the cost of the building.
Above are some indicative factors which affect the design and performance of buildings and their components.