Climate change is a major threat not just to humans and animals, but also to the longevity and stability of engineering projects. Windstorms, floods, and fire all pose risks that can severely damage or destroy buildings, necessitating costly repairs.
While you may not be quite ready to design Earthships for your customers, there are plenty of ways to protect the environment and develop hardy architecture that can stand the test of time – without sacrificing sustainability. Today, we’ll explore some of the most essential aspects of creating earth-friendly buildings for consumers and businesses.
Choose Solar Film on Windows
Gone are the days of cumbersome solar panels on a roof that add enormous amounts of weight to the structure, requiring ever more expensive support. Many homeowners and business owners also dislike their bulky profile, making the building look awkward.
Thankfully, there are now many choices that won’t reduce the beauty of a building but help to reduce energy expenditures. Environmental engineers have developed thin films that can be placed on windows to help capture sunlight while also blocking excess sun, which not only reduces cooling costs but helps move a building toward a zero carbon footprint. They are simple to install and have very little impact on the overall aesthetic of a building, making them a versatile option for almost any project.
Install Heat Pumps
Air conditioning is both costly and incredibly damaging to the environment, releasing vast amounts of ozone and causing a hefty electricity bill; still, most want to live in a comfortable home that’s neither too hot nor too cold.
Heat pumps solve the air conditioning problem by transferring hot air from inside the building to outside; during the winter, they can be used to pump out cool air and suck in hot air from the environment. You can also attach them to geothermal sources in very cold climates to keep a building at the perfect ambient temperature.
Utilize Metal Whenever Possible
While wood is beautiful and can be very sustainable, it has some problems. Wood is heavy, which requires even stronger supports to keep the structure upright; it also rots and will need to be replaced, which can happen in only a few decades.
In contrast, when treated properly, metal structures have an incredibly long lifespan; they’re sturdier and lighter than wood, allowing you to create taller ceilings for more storage. Sourcing them also isn’t a problem, as many companies offer 30 ft metal trusses for sale. These are the perfect size for nearly any project, whether commercial or residential.
Try Mycelium Bricks
One of the most exciting developments in construction is mycelium bricks, which are made by nurturing mushrooms in specially-made molds. They’re lighter and stronger than concrete; most intriguingly, they can self-heal because the material is full of living, breathing organisms. Even better is the fact that they have an incredibly low carbon footprint and don’t require extraction like mineral building materials.
Mycelium bricks can be formed into nearly any shape imaginable, though the most common option is to grow them in wooden brick-shaped molds. Still, these endless possibilities provide architects with a wealth of inspiration for novel structures that better mimic the natural environment.
Grow a Green Roof
There are numerous options for sustainable roofing, but one of the best is a green roof. These roofs are covered with a thick film of vegetation, such as moss and groundcover, which absorbs heat to warm buildings in winter. They’re a staple of traditional architecture in colder climates, such as Scandinavia and the British Isles, because they help to reduce heat loss while also absorbing excess precipitation to avoid flooding. Not only that, but they are incredibly aesthetic, lending a fairytale air to any structure.
However, it’s important to note that green roofs are often incredibly heavy thanks to the plant mass, so they do require stronger support and more careful engineering. It’s not something that you can add to a project after completion; a green roof must be incorporated from the start to ensure that it won’t collapse under the weight of the plants growing atop it.
The Bottom Line
Architects and engineers are more than aware of the costs that climate-related building hazards incur, which is why it’s important to stay on top of sustainability trends and reduce a property’s carbon footprint as much as possible.
Materials that slash energy consumption, leverage plant matter, and stay sturdy for decades can ensure that your finished project remains a local focal point for longer without sacrificing elegance. It takes some ingenuity and perhaps a bit of compromise, but it’s worth it to deliver an excellent property that meets your client’s needs – and the earth’s needs, too.