Designers and architects are constantly searching for sustainable architectural products, designs and techniques in order to develop environmentally friendly building solutions. This article outlines the latest green architecture trends.
With the UK government being committed to reducing CO2 emissions, zero-energy buildings are gaining widespread interest. These buildings are designed and constructed to function independently of the national grid, by relying on renewable energy sources.This reliance on wind, biofuel and solar energy prevents any additional greenhouse gas emissions from heating, lighting and other electrical usage. Despite these zero-energy constructions having a higher initial cost, many companies and businesses are considering them as viable, sound investments due to the long-term sustainability and energy-saving benefits that the buildings offer.
Water reuse and stormwater management
15 trillion gallons of potable water are used every year in buildings worldwide, amounting to 13.6% of the world’s drinking water. Due to current concerns over drinking water shortages, many sustainable developments are focusing on minimising water consumption, greywater reuse and rainwater harvesting technologies to limit the impact these developments have on potable water use. In addition, by managing stormwater discharges, through the construction of green roofs or clever landscaping, erosion and flooding in urban areas can be effectively mitigated.
Using sustainable construction materials
Standard building construction consumes huge volumes of natural resources, therefore any construction that integrates sustainable, recycled or biodegradable materials, or uses less materials to cover the same need, will make a huge difference to the environmental footprint of the development. Examples include the use of recycled steel beams instead of felling trees, and recycled tyres for wall construction. Sustainable roofing options include the construction of green roofs, which can reduce water run-off, heating and cooling effects and also filter out pollutants, or tensile structures using fabric architecture, which maximise daylight, reduce heating, ventilation and air conditioning needs, reduce solar heat gain and lessen expenses on standard roofing materials and shipping costs, due to the lower number of component parts and reduced weight of materials.
The world’s environmental pressures have placed increasing importance on the need for green architecture and sustainable development, and despite the initial costs being higher, the long term savings and benefits for the planet far outweigh the impact of the initial investment. As such, sustainable development should be at the forefront of any new building design.