Article by guest author, Roger Marx
With increasing legislative and societal standards for green and environmentally friendly commerce, the construction industry has never been under greater scrutiny to build with sustainability in mind. While this often leads people to think of technologically advanced solutions such as solar panels and wind turbines, there are a number of sustainability examples to consider before starting a project.
Sustainability may be a project that promotes energy efficiency, enhances longevity, preserves natural resources, reduces toxic byproducts, or mitigates the need for resource consumption due to future renovation. With this in mind, keep reading to consider 5 different examples of sustainable architecture projects.
Exterior Sun Control and Shading Devices
Leveraging the sun to help light and heat a building is one of the most fundamental concepts in net-zero construction. And while making the most of the sun’s vast energy potential is commendable, there can come times when too much direct sunlight is overwhelming, causing the building to become uncomfortably hot. This is of special concern for south-facing areas of structures during the summer months.
Rather than kicking the AC into overdrive to bring the building down to a more comfortable temperature, initial efforts should start with exterior sun shading devices in areas that are susceptible to sun overload. Some examples include attached louvered pergolas, adjustable window awnings, and exploring metal building facade ideas to help mitigate the intensity of the sun. These innovative structures allow enough natural light to pass through so that the building won’t have to rely on artificial light during the height of the day while providing enough shading to keep the building from becoming sweltering to reduce reliance on AC.
Open Spaces for More Convenient Repurposing
Creating spacious, open interiors is a trend in contemporary sustainable design because it allows for a better flow of natural light. However, that is only one of its sustainability benefits. With fewer interior obstructions, spaces can more easily be reorganized and repurposed for future uses. This limits the amount of construction resources necessary when getting the building ready for new tenants. Some ways to maximize an open interior in a building include:
- Mobilizing customizable glass partitions to create rooms and private areas
- Installing sound clouds and volume dampers to help prevent unwanted noise transfer between areas of the building
- Constructing with structural steel to provide more clear span within the facility
The combination of all of these factors makes open interiors an energy efficient, low resource design trend.
Low Maintenance Flooring and Countertops
Another aspect that makes a building sustainable is its potential to limit cleaning, maintenance, and repair resources. Therefore, whether building a private residence or multi family complex, it is critical to choose materials that facilitate cleaning and maintenance with the fewest possible resources. Some examples of great projects along these lines would be installing steel log siding to the building, choosing polished concrete flooring for communal spaces such as multi unit mailbox hubs, and replacing high-maintenance marble countertops with durable, nonporous quartz surfaces.
Permeable Driveways and Parking Lots
Most of the United States is facing unprecedented drought conditions in the face of global climate change. One of the most debilitating effects of the drying of the planet is reservoirs and other critical water bodies being used up much faster than they can be replaced.
With this in mind, choosing low water architectural projects is one of the best routes to take toward sustainability. This can start by replacing concrete sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots that are prone to runoff and groundwater contamination with permeable gravel options. These innovative systems use recycled plastic permeable paver grids to hold the stone in place, ensuring that the sidewalk or driveway maintains a uniform appearance while maximizing gravel’s natural drainage properties to allow all stormwater to be absorbed and used by the soil.
Inorganic Framing Solutions
Building to last is another of the key tenets of sustainability, and this process starts with the framing. Traditional wood framed panels are much less durable than some of the contemporary products on the market. They can absorb water that leads to cracking and rot damage and are extremely susceptible to fire and pest damage.
Better framing options include steel beams and ICF panels. These inorganic solutions provide the highest pest, fire, and wind resistance on the market, ensuring that a building’s structural integrity is intact in the face of the most adverse severe weather events. They help guarantee an airtight building envelope that will remain uncompromised decades after construction.
Go the Extra Mile with These 5 Sustainable Architecture Projects
There are a number of different factors that can make an architectural project sustainable, such as its ability to improve energy efficiency, enhance longevity, or reduce a building’s toxic waste. To this effect, implementing exterior sun control devices, building open spaces for more convenient repurposing, adding low maintenance flooring and countertops, installing permeable driveways, and building on inorganic framing solutions are 5 great examples of sustainable architecture projects in 2022.
Roger Marx is a contributor to the Innovative Building Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and home renovation. Roger is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value and improve sustainability.