Many designers and architects believe that they are the ones who have the responsibility to take on climate change and try to stop it. While we all play a significant role, the design community can certainly make a huge impact. So how are experts in this field helping everyone live in a bright and green future? Here are some of the best design and architecture advancements that will hopefully be common in the future.
Did you know what the size of an average home doubled in the past 60 years? That’s a huge difference especially when you consider that modern homes are inhabited with fewer people (2.5 people live in average US households today, compared to 3.3 in the 1960s). However, the last decade is looking at many home size changes. Smaller structures are a huge trend today since they provide the users with less energy and land waste, yet bring the same benefits, same comfort and same luxury.
Tiny homes are not the only eco-friendly housing trend developing these days. Repurposing existing industrial and agricultural structures is also becoming more and more popular. Additionally, shipping container housing is also rising in popularity. These containers are great eco-friendly living solutions since they allow people to reuse metals (each used 40-foot container repurposes 2,500 kg of steel) and reduce the waste that is produced during the new house building process. They are small, durable and when properly insulated and equipped, they can also be very energy efficient. But that’s not all! There are other amazing construction materials that can be used over and over again when treated with respect. Architects and designers today are repurposing everything from bricks and timber to steel and glass in order to fill our homes with practical, durable and beautiful items.
Some 30 years ago, we started creating various certificates for healthy buildings that produce a smaller carbon footprint. So, today, we can build net-zero homes, passive houses and even living buildings that provide people with better living environments. The goal of such houses is to reduce energy consumption and thus lower pollution and improve the health of people living inside. One of the main characteristics of such homes is the use of solar power. Countries like China are leading the way when it comes to solar capacity (followed by the USA, Japan and Germany). While the China pollution issue is still significant, this forward-thinking country is waging a serious pollution battle. And with the emergence of more and more solar-powered homes, the world can even win this war!
People concerned with climate change know that their home needs to adapt to changing natural conditions. Building a future-proof home that will protect its residents from floods, droughts, extreme temperature and air and water pollution is crucial for survival. Luckily, we already have amazing technology that can help people build healthy and comfortable homes capable of withstanding any negative impact of the changing environment. The trick is to create durable, yet affordable and eco-friendly materials and technology, but so far, repurposing has shown to have serious potential since already existing items and building parts are often more durable than new ones. But, inventions like wet floodproofing (allows water to penetrate home without damage) are also emerging every day.
Communal gardens are getting more and more popular among city dwellers since they allow anyone to grow their own healthy food. Additionally, green roofs are also having their moment. Planting greenery on top of buildings has various benefits: it provides good thermal insulation, fills the area with visual appeal and it helps collect and direct stormwater (a rising issues that came to us with global warming). But that’s not all! Green roofs also help reduce and maintain urban heat island effect and can aid in air quality control. So all in all, green roofs (and walls) can help create a healthier, safer and more beautiful future for all of us.
Today, more than 50% of the world population lives in urban settlements, so how we move inside and between them matters greatly when it comes to our eco-friendly efforts. While there are many solutions to reduce private vehicles, one is for sure: walkable cities are healthier, safer and more practical. With the development of smart and practical infrastructure, pedestrians and cyclists can move easily between points which can reduce pollution from driving by 20%. As a result, we get cities that people actually want to live in which is great for the local economy.
While we can see many changes in the design and construction of buildings today, it’s important to know that one sustainable home or one eco-friendly commercial building won’t save the day. Sure, some will commit to being zero-waste, others will choose sustainable energy, but we all need to play our part. The role of architecture and design is to bring these eco-friendly improvements closer to regular people, so we can all make an effort toward a greener future.