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Building Green: Top Emerging Trends in Sustainable Architecture for 2024

Updated: Mar 6

The rise of sustainability is something we’ve been encountering more and more over the recent years. Many industries and businesses have started to adopt more sustainable practices and encourage eco-friendly habits in their work. And the same goes for architecture. For years, construction industries and built environments have contributed to at least 39% of carbon emissions on our planet.


As we settle into 2024, there has been a surge in sustainable architecture, energy-efficient homes and eco-friendly buildings. Our blog is here to explore some of the emerging trends in sustainable architecture this year. To find out more, keep on reading!



 

How Do We Define Sustainable Architecture? 

According to The World Commission on Environment and Development, sustainability is defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising future generation’s ability to meet their needs.’ So, how can we apply this to architecture?


When we’re talking about sustainable architecture, or green architecture, it means encompassing sustainable development practices to create safe and healthy living environments whilst minimising negative environmental impacts. This could include contribution to pollution, wasting resources or destroying local ecosystems. 


Sustainable architecture is reflected in the way that buildings are now constructed and in their overall design. Sustainable architecture is often called green architecture or even environmental architecture, challenging architects to find ways to include smart designs, aesthetic appeal and new technologies that minimise the damage to the environment.


Why Is Sustainable Architecture Important? 

Sustainable architecture is important because of our rapidly developing world. Our cities and metropolises are growing at an exponential rate across the globe, and we’ve got to find a way to keep up.


Environmental preservation and energy efficiency are just a few of the reasons why sustainable architecture is so important. Our reliance on fossil fuels, contribution to climate change and damage to the environment are all reasons why sustainable development is on the rise. Building living spaces, homes and housing developments that factor in sustainable methods allows architects to meet the needs of individuals without compromising the planet’s resources.


Using eco-friendly methods to create housing and living developments can help us to reduce our use of the Earth’s natural resources. By recycling, reusing and converting materials and existing spaces, we are giving our planet a chance to replenish too. Although there has been a greater importance placed on sustainability in recent years, we still have a long way to go.


How Is Sustainable Architecture Achieved? 

There is a vast range of ways that sustainable architecture can be achieved, read below to learn more about these practices.


  • Design - The design is one of the most crucial parts of creating sustainable housing developments. Whether it’s a block of flats or a singular home, architects have to think hard about ways in which they can improve the sustainability of these buildings. By using green architectural practices, it means that sustainability has been considered from the earliest stages of development.

  • Energy Efficiency - Sustainable buildings now prioritise energy efficiency even during the design process. Energy efficient appliances will be used where possible, and architects will try to include alternative energy sources wherever possible. This might include solar panel systems, energy efficient lighting or wind turbines to help power properties. Using these alternative methods and reducing the energy consumption of properties helps to minimise the carbon emissions created by the development process and the running of the building.


  • Water Preservation - Water-saving technology is also a large part of sustainable building development, which reduces the strain on freshwater sources and natural materials. Low-flow water systems can be used, as well as rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling and even drought-resistant landscaping. Architects can design properties that allow for as much water to be saved as possible, increasing the sustainability of these buildings.

  • Recycling & Waste Reduction - The choice of materials and conscious efforts to reduce waste make a huge difference when it comes to sustainable projects. Using recycled materials and low-emission products helps to minimise waste from the get-go, meaning less waste ends up going to landfill. Recycled materials from buildings can go into new homes and be repurposed.


  • Building Life Cycle - Life-cycle assessments are another important piece of architectural work that needs to be carried out before these properties are constructed. Architects will carry out assessments that factor in the building materials used, the construction of the property, and also what will happen to materials when the building is destroyed or redeveloped.

Emerging Trends In 2024 

As we move through 2024, there are more and more trends appearing, giving us new ways to innovate and design sustainability focused homes


Biophilic Design 

Biophilic designs are architectural designs that try to blend the natural world with the built environment. You may recognise examples of this, such as Jewel Changi Airport, which encompasses the natural world within its architecture.


Integrating natural elements such as water, greenery and natural light enhances the aesthetic appeal of these buildings while minimising the destruction of local environments. These designs also contribute to a better sense of well-being, connecting humans to the natural world through architectural design. As we move into 2024, we can expect to see more residential and commercial applications of biophilic designs.


Smart Buildings 

Smart technology holds vast unlocked potential, and we’ve seen it grow in recent years. As we move forward with technological developments, we are seeing more and more ways in which smart technology can be utilised in buildings. This applies to both commercial and residential properties, allowing for a simpler, user-friendly design.


Smart technology can help us maximise energy efficiency in individual homes as well as larger urban environments. Smart tech can make buildings more efficient, and provide real-time data on the operations of properties.


Automated lighting and heating systems can help companies and households to reduce their energy wastage as well as reducing the amount of energy used.


Green Spaces & Nature

Encouraging the use of green spaces in building projects is another way to promote sustainability within architecture. Green roofs, vertical gardens and living walls are all examples of this, which utilise space within buildings to encourage more biodiversity. Incorporating nature into buildings holds a range of health benefits, as well as practical solutions regarding sustainability. Whether you have a green roof with additional seating or a slightly slanted roof that collects reusable rainwater, architects are finding more and more ways to prevent excess waste and utilise most of the space in our buildings.


Adaptive Reuse 

Adaptive reuse designs are architectural designs that steer away from the conventional demolition of buildings. Rather than demolishing buildings and starting all over again, adaptive reuse uses smarter methods to repurpose existing buildings.


This method of sustainable architecture is great for preserving the natural beauty of older buildings, and it even allows us to reinforce the structural integrity of these properties. By repurposing these spaces, we are also reducing our carbon footprint and massively reducing the damage caused to local environments.


With the recycling and reuse of materials too, repurposing buildings rather than destroying them creates a closed-loop system, which also helps to reduce as much waste as possible, and fewer raw materials need to be extracted from the Earth.


Greenwashing: A Very Real Concern

While these emerging trends in sustainable architecture offer real promise, there are also new threats for customers to look out for. One such threat is a deceptive practice known as “greenwashing”, where a company, product, or service is presented as environmentally friendly when, in reality, it doesn’t adhere to sustainable practices at all. In the world of sustainable architecture, greenwashing can manifest in various ways, such as exaggerated claims of energy efficiency or the use of eco-friendly materials without proper certification.


To avoid falling victim to greenwashing, it’s important that you thoroughly research and verify the sustainability credentials of any architects, builders, and materials you use throughout your building project. We also recommend scrutinising the actual performance and track record of projects claiming to be green, ensuring they align with established environmental standards and principles.


The team here at Elite Renewables Ltd is ARB-registered, RIBA-chartered and PASSIVHAUS certified, so you can be confident that we’re trustworthy and knowledgeable when it comes to our architectural and Passivhaus services. Our expertise and experience enable us to assess each project independently, develop strategies for maximising sustainability and, ultimately, choose the strategy that works best for the very specific set of circumstances we’re presented with.


Elite Renewables Ltd: Achieve a Sustainable Home with Renewable Energy Installations

As industry leaders in sustainable home design, we at Elite Renewables Ltd pride ourselves on taking a collaborative approach to help clients realise their sustainability goals. We work proactively with our clients to develop their architectural plans with the integration of smart, eco-conscious elements that maximise the sustainability of their project and its finished result.


Such elements include solar panel systems, EV charging facilities, floor heating, HVAC systems, and more! So, whether you’re looking to discuss your initial ideas with an expert or would like to know more about our offering, simply get in touch today!

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