5 of the Most Innovative Trends in Sustainable Design

Architecture trends are constantly changing and are currently evolving toward sustainability thanks to innovative - and green focused - designers.I write a lot on Of Houses and Trees about eco-friendly interior design and decor, but those aspects are really only part of the sustainability package. Of course, what comes first is the building itself.

I touched on this topic in my post 5 of Canada’s Most Sustainable Buildings, but one of the coolest things about sustainable design (other than it’s planet-saving powers) is that it’s constantly evolving. New technologies plus new ideas meet and mingle and suddenly an ingenious green product or practice is born.

And with another year coming to an end, it’s always inspiring to take a look at current and upcoming innovative sustainable architecture trends. From showing off solar to filling walls with straw – here are 5 of the most innovative trends in sustainable design.


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Visible Solar

The chunky, highly visible rooftop solar panels of the past are on their way out thanks to technology, but is this a good thing? Certainly, ultra-thin solar panels that blend seamlessly into a building’s roof will help retain a design’s aesthetic appeal. However, studies have shown that one of the biggest motivating factors for homeowners to install solar is seeing them on the roofs of other homes and buildings. Architects are taking note of the importance of visible solar panels and are making panels an integral part of their designs.

Architecture trends are constantly changing and are currently evolving toward sustainability thanks to innovative - and green focused - designers. The Nature and Environment Learning Centre Amsterdam is an example of one current trend - visible solar panels.
The design of the Nature and Environment Learning Center Amsterdam takes advantage of seamless solar panel technology, but keeps the panels highly visible by contrasting them with a light coloured roof. (Image Credit: Bureau SLA)

Green Everywhere

Plants are taking over – and that’s a good thing! The rooftop garden trend has begun to spread. Vertical gardens – on both interior walls and the exterior facade of a building – are another way to replace some of the greenery lost due to spreading urbanization. Aside from improving air quality, rooftop and vertical gardens provide space to grow fresh produce. Plus, rooftop gardens, groundcover gardens – even grass driveways – provide a way for stormwater runoff to filter back into the earth.

Architecture trends are constantly changing and are currently evolving toward sustainability thanks to innovative - and green focused - designers. Grasscrete is one current eco-friendly trend - a technology that allows grass to grow on surfaces such as roads and walkways.
Innovations like Grasscrete allow greenery to grow on walkways, driveways and roads, turning what would have been more impermeable concrete into more area for water filtration. (Image Credit: Inhabitat)

Say Goodbye to Non-Renewables

There has been an explosion over the last few years in renewable building materials. While some come to us thanks to technological advancements, many are revivals of centuries old building practices such as straw bale construction. A key differentiation between renewable and non-renewable building materials is that renewable materials are derived from regenerative resources like plants as opposed to finite resources like oil, gas and coal deposits. And while we might not be ready to fully let go of non-renewable materials such as plastic quite yet, their farewell most likely is on the horizon – with building materials derived from bamboo, cork, cotton, flax, hemp, rosin, rubber and straw set to take their place.

Architecture trends are constantly changing and are currently evolving toward sustainability thanks to innovative - and green focused - designers. Straw bale construction is one current eco-friendly trend even though it originated in the Palaeolithic era.
Straw houses have been around since the Palaeolithic era, but a renewed interest in this sustainable construction method means straw is showing up in everything from churches to libraries to upscale homes. (Image Credit: Ecosia Images)



Small is the New Big

If you’re as fascinated with the tiny house movement as I am, then this architecture trend is for you. The thing about the current building small trend is that “small” is actually a relative term. And it has less to do with a building’s footprint and more to do with the efficiency of the design. Homes, commercial buildings, institutions and so forth are being carefully designed to be the exact size they need to be in order to perform their required functions and not a square foot more. It’s all about not wasting a single inch of a floor plan.

Architecture trends are constantly changing and are currently evolving toward sustainability thanks to innovative - and green focused - designers. And these designers are realizing that a building doesn't have to be big to be beautiful, as illustrated by this lovely 557 square foot home.
This beautifully designed 557 square foot home by Tumbleweed Tiny House company illustrates perfectly that small doesn’t mean you have to skimp on comfort and style. (Image Credit: Houseplans)

Going Beyond

While governments around the world are setting regulations requiring new buildings to meet minimum standards of sustainability, architects and builders are beginning to go above and beyond such requirements. Why? Because these minimum requirements are just that – minimum and are likely to be replaced with more stringent regulations in years to come. Smart designers don’t want their building’s eco-conscious features to be become obsolete too soon. Instead, they want to set standards of sustainability that exceed regulations. This could be anything from increasing the R-value of a building’s insulation to implementing in-building water filtration to designing an apartment building able to grow food for all its residents.

Architecture trends are constantly changing and are currently evolving toward sustainability thanks to innovative - and green focused - designers. Taipei's Agora Garden Tower goes above and beyond today's eco-conscious standards and acts as a living, breathing building.
Taipei’s under-construction Agora Garden Tower surpasses its Green Building certification, acting as a living organism that will provide the residents of its 40 apartments with food and medicinal plants. (Image Credit: Mega Ricos)

Since it looks like construction of Our House in the Trees is (finally!) going to begin this summer, I’ve been checking out some books on sustainable design. I was able to find all of these titles through my local library, but if you can’t get them through yours then you can buy them via Amazon Books.

 

Want to learn more about sustainable design - one of today's current architecture trends? Check out the book Building a Sustainable Home by Melissa Rappaport Schifman.Building a Sustainable Home: Practical Green Design Choices for Your Health, Wealth, and Soul 

 

 

 

 

Want to learn more about sustainable design - one of today's current architecture Eco House Book by Terence Conran.Eco House Book by Terence Conran

 

 

 

 

Want to learn more about sustainable design - one of today's current architecture The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka.The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live by Sarah Susanka

 

 

 

 

Want to learn more about sustainable design - one of today's current architecture The Passivhaus Handbook by Janet Cotterell.The Passivhaus Handbook: A Practical Guide to Constructing and Retrofitting Buildings for Ultra-Low Energy Performance by Janet Cotterell

 

 

 

Architecture-Trends-The-Sustainable-HomeThe Sustainable Home: The Essential Guide to Eco Building, Renovation and Decoration 

 

 

 


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Architecture trends are constantly changing and are currently evolving toward sustainability thanks to innovative - and green focused - designers.

Posted on November 27, 2018

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