Sustainable Buildings Making Waves Across the World
In recent years, there has been a major push to reduce our carbon footprint across the world, and one of the keys to doing so is to develop and maintain sustainable cities and buildings.
In recent years, there has been a major push to reduce our carbon footprint across the world, and one of the keys to doing so is to develop and maintain sustainable cities and buildings. With urban development on the rise, it is important that the buildings being put in place follow green initiatives and do everything they can to minimize energy usage.
Fortunately, developers are realizing that sustainable buildings are not only important for the environment but also very cost-effective in the long run. There has been a worldwide push to fill our cities with sustainable buildings, and it seems that this trend should continue well into the future.
What is a Sustainable Building?
A sustainable building is one that does as little damage as possible to the environment around it. Developers focus on green practices from the very start of the building process and equip the building with the ability to remain sustainable throughout its life. This means using as many recycled materials in the process – from windows made from recycled glass to wood floors that come from older demolished buildings.
The structure being made from re-used materials is only part of the equation, however. This means equipping the building with things like solar panels, large windows for natural light, and low-carbon materials. Even the water systems are designed to minimize water waste and to re-use water whenever possible. Some sustainable buildings are even able to collect rainwater for maximum efficiency.
The Cost of Sustainable Buildings
The up-front cost of a sustainable building turns many short-sighted developers off, as it is significantly more expensive than utilizing traditional building methods. However, research shows that the price difference is more than made up within 5-15 years after the build thanks to the use of efficient, green energy and the building’s ability to adapt. Developers who understand sound investing and technology have been opting for sustainable buildings because they are able to see the long-term benefits.
Additional Benefits of Sustainable Buildings
While energy efficiency and long-term cost savings are some of the most easily recognized benefits of sustainable buildings, the positive impact doesn’t just stop there. Green buildings have many more advantages when it comes to quality of life.
Humans spend about 90% of their time inside buildings, and this can lead to many health problems. With older, unsustainable buildings, there are far more pollutants in the air that can lead to asthma or other respiratory disorders. Thanks to the focus on recycling and energy-efficiency, most sustainable buildings are able to rid the environment of these pollutants, making for better air quality.
The focus on using natural light for energy provides a benefit to humans as well. Many older buildings are composed of long, dark hallways and small, cramped rooms without much sunlight. Exposure to more natural light allows humans to take in more vitamin D, which can help fight fatigue, depression, weight gain, and even heart disease.
Prominent Examples of Green Buildings
Pixel Building, Melbourne, Australia
The Pixel Building, an eccentric and colorful architectural wonder in Melbourne, is totally carbon-free and is the first building to achieve a perfect Green Star score. It focuses on renewable energy, waste reduction, and water collection to help it produce its own energy. This means it is totally self-sustaining and not reliant on the environment around it. Some ways it does this is by having a green rooftop that collects rainwater, use of pixelated shade screens, and strategic placement of solar panels and wind turbines.
ACROS Fukuoka Foundation Building, Fukuoka, Japan
The ACROS Fukuoka Building is stunning not only in appearance but also in how it harnesses the power of green energy. On one side, there are large glass walls that allow for plenty of natural light to deter usage of electricity. The other side is composed of gardened terraces that boast thousands of plants which make for a beautiful façade but also hide a sophisticated drainage system that maximizes water collection and consumption. They also help to regulate the temperature of the building, lowering the use of heating or air conditioning.
What’s Next for Sustainable Buildings
Green building isn’t exactly a brand-new phenomenon, but recent years have seen a sharp increase in popularity and understanding of why they are necessary. At this point, we’ve only really broken the surface of what is possible in sustainable building. With younger generations being more conscious of their carbon footprint, we can expect them to continue to research and develop green building initiatives.
We might see a shift towards using microgrids to harness the energy potential of multiple buildings or even entire cities. These are already used in many universities and military bases, and can be completely self-sustained.
Smart Glass is another interesting product that is already being used, but we will probably see even more in the future. This special glass tints itself based on the amount of sunlight, which helps keep the inside of the building cooler, minimizing the need for air conditioning.
As sustainability becomes more popular not only because of its necessity but also because of its realized benefits, we should see a major increase in the number of sustainable buildings.