The sustainable building umbrella covers numerous branches of technological and environmental development. Renewable energy generation, smart sensors and eco-friendly paints with volatile organic compounds are all examples of popular sustainable products.
Several building trends have gained popularity in recent years, only to strengthen in 2023. Innovations recently gathering momentum help reduce carbon emissions in the architecture industry and encourage greener mindsets. Learn more about which sustainable building innovations will make a difference and are worth investing in.
Modular homes or prefabricated builds are increasing in popularity because of their manufacturing simplicity. Prefab homes are constructed in factories, which helps avoid the challenges of outdoor, on-site building, including loss of materials, time and money from weather-related events.
The prefab building process adopts automation, reducing material and energy waste significantly. If a company wants to change the design of a build, it can repurpose materials from the previous builds in a way that makes sense for upcoming endeavors. Builders can also easily deconstruct, upgrade and move the builds, which reduces the harmful impacts of demolition and other construction processes.
Sustainable buildings with passive design use architectural decisions that optimize solar gain. Passive solar homes implement awnings, bay windows and wood flooring that allow natural light to enter the house. The light stores heat in the home’s raw materials, like wood, and slowly releases to provide gradual heating. The key is the building’s position — it should be oriented to maximize sun rays throughout the day.
For cooling, the awnings prevent too much heat from entering the home when days are long and hot. In addition to saving on energy costs, households and businesses won’t have to rely on expensive HVAC systems. Passive solar will offer significant advantages in 2023 as tax incentives inspire many to make the change.
Net Zero Carbon Accountability
For a building to be genuinely net-zero, it must generate as much energy as it needs to operate. Ideally, the facility could generate more than it needs to assist neighboring buildings connected to the grid. Net-zero constructions will increase in 2023 as businesses want to bank on tax incentives, health benefits and reduced energy costs.
To achieve their goals, companies must implement renewable energy generation, like wind or geothermal power. Every step of the building process, including materials and techniques, will factor into how much energy it needs to produce. Net-zero buildings often have other green architectural elements like biophilic design or low-waste programs.
Groups worldwide want these buildings to publicize their impact for accountability and influence. If more builders see the statistics, it will likely influence others to adopt sustainable building choices. With carbon footprint and building method disclosure comes a need for governmental oversight to ensure consistency and genuineness.
In 2023, builders will advocate for federal regulations on green building benchmarks. It will be a trend to set greener expectations for architecture and related industries, especially as the population rapidly grows and housing needs increase.
3D printed homes
Companies are making traditional materials from 3D-printed alternatives. Energy-intensive building necessities like concrete could have 60% less impact on the environment — and builders poured 3D-printed “cement” instead. No need to use explosives or burn rock to emit air pollution and greenhouse gasses into the fragile atmosphere.
These homes will have scalability, unlike any other conceived building plan. Adjustments need only printing, and maintenance time and energy reduce to mere automation.
Sustainability doesn’t end with reducing the need to mine or ship heavy materials. With 3D printing, construction could become more stable against environmental influences like earthquakes. Stone or wood can shatter or splinter during an earthquake and wear down during floods. Innovating 3D-printed materials could make them as strong as necessary, especially when building in an area prone to certain disasters.
Retrofitting and circular models
Urban mining encourages builders to look at readily available materials instead of sourcing from scratch. Abandoned buildings and even discarded materials considered trash can be renovated into beautiful, sustainable creations.
Finding unused buildings to repurpose is one practice. Looking to landfills and local programs to source materials adequate to create home staples like insulation or lighting fixtures is another.
Circular building is one of the most impactful ways to reduce negative environmental impact, as the entire supply chain and life cycle of a building decreases energy and material consumption. Imagine skipping the material extraction and shipping processes, saving fuel and habitat damage and using found materials to craft what you need. Costly construction sites will become less common as old buildings enter a new age of life, embracing the environmentalist necessity of eliminating end-of-life cycles.
Sustainable Building Encompasses Versatility
Building with a sustainable lens requires reusability and malleability. Buildings have to be functional and durable while also having an infinite lifecycle. Materials must be reusable for the most effective carbon footprint reductions.
The resources to accomplish this feat are available to builders. It will only take a shift in the industry to implement these ideas and create new habits for greener building plans for future projects.