Last year we published a blog highlighting what we thought were the top sustainable building trends of the year. This year we have seen several major trends have both disappeared and emerged. Here are what we think the top 5 trends in sustainable construction will be for 2016.
While fiberglass insulation has been a norm in building construction for decades, it is highly carcinogenic, and if it is not properly recycled it can take decades to degrade in landfills. New, more sustainable forms of insulation, such as nano insulation have started to take hold over the last year. Nano insulation is a thin water-and-silica based coating that takes the place of heavier. It can also be used on windows while still allowing up to 90% light transmission, and has the potential to reduce energy use for HVAC by 25%.
Designing for Deconstruction
One issue that has existed in terms of sustainability is the creation of structures with limited lifespans, with no plan for repurposing the building materials. The idea that these materials can be reused, or upcycled, to new products has created a new movement of designing for deconstruction. The idea being that after a structure has outlived its purpose, the materials can be easily taken apart and repurposed.
Green roofs have been a design feature used in sustainable buildings for years, however, this year their use has become far more prevalent. This simple and elegant solution helps to reduce building heating costs by adding a natural layer of insulation. The Natural Research Council of Canada found that it could reduce summer air conditioning costs by up to 75% It also provides a simple solution for stormwater management, naturally absorbing and using the water. On a more public level, these roofs also act to naturally purify the air, reducing pollutants and creating a healthier environment.
The idea of biophilic design has been around for decades, however, it has only recently begun to catch on in a major way. Biophilic, sustainable building design utilizes elements of nature, plants, water, natural light, etc. to create healthier, more efficient buildings. This not only enhances a building but actually creates many positive benefits for employees, from less sick days, to increased focus and productivity.
Energy Positive Buildings
When it comes to sustainable building design, the goal of net-zero energy consumption used to be the number one goal. Now, though, with improvements in design and technology, many people are looking to create energy positive buildings. This is a building that not only uses zero electricity from the grid, but actually produces excess energy.