The Future of Sustainable Home Architecture
Sustainability is the keyword of future housing, challenging the best architects to follow the sustainable home architecture and design buildings that are not only attractive and functional but also have minimal impact on our environment, as well as providing for the health and comfort of the occupants.
Sustainable home architecture can be achieved by applying an innovative approach to environmentally friendly design, enabling architects to promote the value of green design to society. Today’s architects must consider and incorporate new sustainable trends in architecture when designing new homes and renovations:
Sustainable architecture takes advantage of modern technology. Whether it be a home in the suburbs or an office building in the CBD, the role of new smart buildings is vital, as they do more than operate appliances on command.
Taking it a step further from green roofs and living walls, the new smart building can regulate its own temperature by controlling the natural light that enters and directing ventilation from outside. Automated systems can also take advantage of existing features, such as using recycled greywater or rainwater, and using the pool or pond to assist with cooling.
Sustainable Building Blocks
Concrete is now recognised as one of the main producers of carbon dioxide, which is harmful to the environment. As a result, timber is making a comeback, but at what cost to our native forests?
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Asia’s orangutan populations have reached critical levels as their natural habitats are fast disappearing via legal and illegal logging by timber companies, as well as mining companies and palm oil plantations. And what do we do once the last tree is felled?
A popular alternative is using recycled plastic waste. In South America, companies are already building houses using low-cost recycled plastic waste materials. Sustainable composite products, manufactured with recycled timber and plastic waste, are now mainstream and the best alternative to timber, because of their natural look.
In Australia, for example, NewTechWood’s composite decking, cladding and screening and fencing products adorn both private homes and commercial buildings, as well as public spaces and picnic areas throughout the world. Its uses are limited only by the imagination.
In addition to being environmentally friendly, NewTechWood products require little to no maintenance and have longer lifespans than their 100% natural counterparts.
For those insisting on the real thing (i.e., natural timber), seek ethically harvested timber that comes with the appropriate certification. Why not consider recycled and reclaimed natural timber for flooring and cladding? If you are going to paint or stain it, nobody will know the difference. Ditto for reclaimed bricks.
Multi-functioning and Recycling
Around the globe, local authorities are being challenged to produce sustainable social housing options. Renovating unused buildings and giving them a new lease on life has provided security havens for those who once lived on the street.
In line with multi-functional buildings, utilising existing buildings and renovating them helps to minimalise waste and negative environmental impacts. This is typically a far more cost-effective option, as you save on the demolition and rebuild costs. Using recycled water and solar panels are also eco-friendly options – which can result in further cost savings.
Roof gardens are becoming very popular, with some growing edible produce that can be used by the occupants or sold within the local community.
A key component of sustainable home architecture, multi-functioning buildings are the way of the future.
Tiny and Pre-Packaged Homes
People now realise the value of smaller homes and larger backyards with a self-sustaining veggie patch out the back and room for the children to play. The big house on a tiny lot is no longer ticking the boxes for families in times of lockdowns and the inability to travel.
Tiny homes are a more affordable option for those with limited budgets. They present less wasted and unused space, which equates to less consumption and energy use.
Once considered novel, tiny homes and pre-packaged homes are growing in popularity. In addition to being more affordable, they require less labour and materials to produce and can be packaged and moved anywhere.
These days, many of these homes incorporate all the latest features that make a home smart and sustainable, such as solar panels, water storage/recycling capacity, green roofs, etc. Hazardous and toxic building products are replaced with safer, environmentally friendly materials, and generally, every inch of space is functional.
Natural Temperature Control
In Australia, where our temperatures can be extreme, optimising the thermal performance of buildings is crucial. Passive cooling systems provide cost-effective and environmentally safe temperature control.
This approach considers factors such as house orientation, window treatments, ventilation, insulation, solar chimneys, shading (including well-placed shady plants) and verandahs.
Lighter-coloured roofing will reflect the heat, providing additional insulation in summer.
Water features – such as pools, ponds and fountains – placed close to windows and doorways will pre-cool air as it wafts into your home. The water must be exposed to this moving air to have this effect, so placement is crucial.
This is not just about planting trees or installing vertical gardens. Today’s new building designs often incorporate natural green spaces. Being amongst nature has proven benefits for our mental and physical health, as well as assisting to counter heat island effects. New office blocks, apartments and hotels incorporate these natural green spaces on every level.
Replacing your lawn with a fake lawn may be a false economy for large areas because of the heat generated in summer. If you don’t want to use valuable water on a lawn, rather than replacing it with green plastic, consider options like mulch, or native gardens that require extremely little water.
Water & Energy Efficiency
No country understands the need for water conservation quite like Australia. A good sustainable home architect can factor in greywater recycling systems and rainwater tanks, and you can purchase water-efficient dishwashers and washing machines.
But don’t forget dual-flush toilets and other new water-efficient appliances, like low-flow taps and shower heads. These can save you hundreds of dollars every year in water bills.
Homes that incorporate solar panels and use low-energy consuming appliances will reap the benefits every year financially, as well as doing their bit for the environment.
When it comes to sustainable home architecture, a house is no longer simply a house. It is a well-conceived plan to minimise your carbon footprint, do your bit for the environment, and save you money in the long run – while you enjoy a more comfortable and practical lifestyle protected for future generations.