Top Green Building Trends for 2022 and Beyond
Green Buildings was only a buzzword upto last decade, restricted to first world nations and communities. But growing awareness and developments around climate change and global warming have created a need for a change in status quo. When you consider Buildings globally are responsible for nearly 40% of annual global CO2 emissions, green building trends are in – and a crucial step towards meeting critical global goals, such as addressing climate change, creating sustainable and thriving communities, and driving economic growth.
To this effect, a green building project challenges architects & developers to go beyond meeting just the regulatory building codes to finding innovative ways to enhance overall building performance and minimize life-cycle environmental impact and cost. As the world is slowly recovering from Covid-19 pandemic, energy efficiency, sustainable living are top priorities of both enterprises and end users and green buildings are seen as a solution to all of these.
Most widespread green building trends:
- Resilient Building Design
- Design for Health, Wellness, and Indoor Air Quality
- Net Zero energy design
- Water Self sustainable design
- Passive Building Design
- Biophilic Design
- Adaptive Reuse
Resilient Building Design
As climate change becomes a reality, it is bringing a multitude of natural disasters in its tow as well. So in addition to building something that is energy efficient, environmentally friendly, it is also paramount to have a structure that can endure earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes and many more. So how can this happen? Resilient Building design is the answer and why it will stay as the frontrunner in the list of green building trends.
The Resilient Design Institute defines resilient design as“the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in response to vulnerabilities to disaster and disruption of normal life”.
Here are some features that characterize a resilient building design:
- Low carbon input materials like wood & low-energy input masonry
- Highly insulated building envelopes and triple insulated glazing for low external energy inputs
- Flexible, multi-use buildings
- Use of local materials to reduce transportation & supply chain costs
- Construction plans that maximize manual labor and minimize oil-fueled machines
Resilient buildings are preferred by tenants, investors and authorities due to their endurance in a constantly fluctuating world of today.
Design for Health, Wellness, and Indoor Air Quality
Healthy building design and Livability have never been so closely associated ever as today. Our biggest exposure to pollutants happens indoors, where we spend most of our time-whether it is at workplaces, offices or homes.
Poor indoor air quality can make the building residents experience building-related illnesses such as breathlessness, fatigue, irritation, and headaches. Some dangerous chemicals found indoors from building materials such as particle board, glues, paints and carpet backing & others have even been linked to severe conditions like impaired cognitive function, congenital defects, and cancer.
On the other hand, green buildings that are designed keeping health, wellness & indoor air quality in mind, are shown to have a positive impact on cognitive scores & building satisfaction for occupants, even a 10% increase in productivity.
Primarily this is usually done through a combination of optimized ventilation design adapted to the specific location of each project (based on wind flow & ambient lighting analysis) and careful consideration of the materials used for building during construction and the fit-out.
Passive Building design
Nearly 35-40% of a building’s total energy consumption is attributed to heating and cooling systems. Passive Building design seeks to alleviate this.
Passive Design techniques involve taking advantage of the surrounding climate & lighting in order to maintain a comfortable/liveable temperature inside the building. This can be done through various methods like using the optimal construction material, shading, orientation & building envelope design leading to passive heating & passive cooling to create an interior climate that is comfortable for the residents with as little help from external HVAC systems as possible.
Net-zero energy design
Net-zero energy design is a prevalent concept gaining momentum in design and construction circles across the globe. It utilizes solar panels, fuel cells, wind micro-turbines, biofuels, etc., to meet the electricity requirement of a building.
Net-zero buildings rely on the on-site generation of renewable energy and energy conservation to meet the electricity requirements.
The term “net-zero energy” means that the total yearly consumption is less than or equal to the amount of on-site energy created using innovative technology and renewable power generation.
Achieving net-zero consumption allows for no energy waste, and it significantly reduces carbon footprints as the buildings can put power back on the grid if need be.The benefits of this are profound- from cost savings on utility bills for tenants (through energy efficiency); lower construction costs and higher property value for building developers; increased occupancy rates or operating costs for building owners and job creation for the economy.
Water self-sustainable design
Net-zero water buildings minimize total water consumption and maximize the use of alternative water sources. Additionally, it minimizes wastewater discharge by rerouting water to the original water source.
After achieving this, the building becomes a neutral water building. The total water consumption equals the amount of alternative water used, and water returned to a fresh source.
The idea aims to minimize the use of supplied freshwater by preserving the quality and quantity of natural water resources. It accounts for minimal depletion, deterioration, and rerouting by leveraging alternative sources like rainwater and water efficiency initiatives and thus minimizing the consumption of supplied freshwater. In an age where water scarcity is going to be a real issue globally, this will be a true saviour.
With rapid urbanization & creation of concrete jungles across cities, human beings are starting to feel disconnected from nature. Biophilic design aims to end this by incorporating natural elements like trees, lakes, gardens in built environments to create pockets of calm oasis in the middle of burgeoning urban pockets.
Biophilic designs are shown to reduce stress of occupants, enhance productivity & creativity and improve health, wellness and building satisfaction of residents.
Around ⅔ of global buildings existing today will still exist in 2050 and continue to emit as much carbon as they are today. And when they are discarded and out of use for any reason- that means we are only adding more and more pollutants to the environment by building newer ones.
Adaptive reuse seeks to change this by breathing new life into these old structures and making them functional for a different application from their original one. Not only does this result in cultural and architectural preservation, but also slows urban sprawl, preserving the environment for today.
Renewable building materials
Everything around us, from houses, apartments, bridges, sidewalks, viaducts, is made up of concrete. It’s a material that has constructed our cities for us.
But there is a downside to using concrete as its production releases tons of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide contributing to climate change.
There are eco-friendly materials that are alternatives to concrete and have a lower environmental impact. Examples include Straw Bales, Grasscrete, Rammed earth, Hempcrete, Bamboo, Recycled plastic, wood, Mycelium, Ferrock, Ashcrete, Timbercrete, Cork, Plant-based foam, among many others.
Sustainable and green building materials are the future of the construction industry. Using green building materials protects the nature around us and reduces the cost of building operations.
To conclude, green buildings not only contribute towards making construction eco-friendly but also bring tons of opportunities for building occupants and users. Lower construction costs, reduced operating costs, healthier indoor living quality, and low maintenance costs are some of the major benefits that come with green building.
These green building trends can serve as catalysts for smart urbanization and sustainable development of cities, besides climate change mitigation, energy conservation, and allowing for new economic and job opportunities.