Green architecture has been on the rise for several years now, and it's showing no signs of slowing down. We're seeing more and more architects and designers incorporating sustainable practices into their work, and many clients are demanding green buildings from their contractors.
But what is green architecture, exactly? And what are some of the elements we see emerging both now and into the future?
In this article, we look at the current signs of a green revolution in architecture, while examining how these trends may continue to shape the architectural world as we know it.
What a Green Revolution in Architecture Means
According to research, buildings are responsible for 33 percent of the world's energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, they are the single biggest global emitter by sector.
Green architecture provides a solution to this issue. The term describes the practice of designing buildings that are energy-efficient, environmentally conscious, and sustainable. In short, green architecture is design that incorporates principles of ecology and sustainability into building design.
The green revolution in architecture has been gaining steam in recent times, as people become more aware of environmental issues like global warming and climate change.
Green Architecture Elements on the Rise
In recent years, green architecture has undergone rapid changes to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. We examine these current trends below.
The purpose of green architecture is to use resources more effectively while limiting the negative impacts of a structure during construction and throughout its life cycle.
Rainwater harvesting (RWH) accomplishes this essential green building objective by lowering water demand and replenishing groundwater.
As a result, architects and designers are frequently incorporating rainwater harvesting capabilities in their buildings. This process is achieved in numerous ways. The rainwater is typically collected from catchment areas on a building's roof and transferred from this drainage system to a storage tank, where it is stored for use.
Adaptive Reuse of Older Materials or Buildings
Adaptive reuse is the process of repurposing older buildings for new uses. It's a creative way to turn a building into something new, and it can be done with minimal impact on the environment.
This is especially important when it comes to green architecture because green buildings are all about minimizing the amount of waste you generate—and adaptive reuse lets you do that by repurposing materials from an existing structure, instead of creating new ones.
Passive Solar Design
Passive solar design is all about using the sun's rays to heat up water or air in order to heat buildings without having to rely on fossil fuels like coal or natural gas. This kind of system works best when it's paired with solar panels, so users can get even more power out of each ray.
Construction materials have the ability to transmit, reflect, or absorb solar energy as it hits the structure. Additionally, the heat from the sun creates air flow that is predictable in places that have been designed to benefit from that feature. These reactions to solar heat influence design decisions regarding materials, placements, and architectural features that can generate heating and cooling effects in a home.
Unlike active solar heating systems, passive solar heating systems are straightforward. This is because they don't heavily rely on mechanical and electrical components like fans, pumps, or electrical controllers to distribute solar energy.
Living walls are a popular trend in green architecture, as they are designed to be sustainable, beautiful, and functional.
There are many reasons why living walls are becoming more popular among architects and designers. Living walls are an effective way of filtering out pollutants and generating clean air. They also provide a natural barrier against noise pollution, as well as improve indoor air quality by filtering out harmful pollutants such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. They can even be used to reduce water runoff by absorbing rainwater while helping to cool down buildings during warm months and keep them better insulated during cold months.
Zauben’s Model Z living wall doesn’t just provide all of these benefits, and more, but is also designed with sustainability at its very core. Every Model Z living wall uses 1,200 recycled plastic bottles, along with hydroponic technology that uses 75 percent less water than plants grown in soil.
Green Architecture Trends that Could Emerge in the Future
Now that we’ve examined the current state of green architecture, you might be wondering what the future has in-store for this movement. Two key developments are beginning to emerge: a rise in vertical farming and a growing shift towards “smart green buildings.”
Vertical farming involves growing crops on rooftops using hydroponics or aeroponics, which can save up to 90 percent of water compared to traditional farming methods. The first vertical farm was built in Singapore in 2011, and since then, other countries are slowly beginning to follow suit.
It's not hard to see why—vertical farms are much more efficient than traditional farms because they require less space and energy, both of which are precious commodities.
Although the agricultural industry has been slow to adopt these changes, a growing shift towards more sustainable practices is likely to cause vertical farming to dramatically rise in popularity in the coming years.
The Intersection of Green Architecture and Technology
In our technologically advanced era, it’s no longer enough for green architecture to simply exist. Instead, this green architecture will begin intersecting more and more with technology, thus creating a hybridization of smart and eco-friendly buildings.
Advances in information technology and data convergence will have a greater impact on how green buildings operate. The combination of IoT and omnipresent computing generates massive amounts of data and information about the structure that can be turned into useful resources. Thanks to these advances in technology, a green building can now analyze, predict, and optimize its processes and needs.
Therefore, the green architecture of the future will have the ability to be self-aware, self-regulated, and enhanced to perform as 'smart buildings,’ having a more positive impact on the world—and people—around it.
The Green Revolution in Architecture is Happening Right Now
Green architecture is more than just building with sustainable materials. It's about looking at the big picture: a building's impact on the environment over its lifespan, from the materials it uses to how it operates and maintains itself over time.
It's also about keeping one foot in the present and another in the future when designing buildings that will be around for decades, or even centuries, to come.
If you’re looking to embrace green architecture with a living wall in your own workplace or home, then the experts at Zauben can help. Contact Zauben today to find out how our Model Z living wall can transform your environment—and your life.