Green Architecture: Changing the Home Design Trends of Today

Whether you are considering a home renovation or exploring designs for a new house, one of the common suggestions that you will get both from architects and engineers is to make it adaptive and earth-friendly. For those who may not be too inclined on the technical details of home designs, “adaptive” and “earth-friendly” are just words, that also often appeal to be expensive and complicated to achieve.

However, with the ever changing trends in home designs, we need to start equipping ourselves with knowledge on economical yet safe home design choices. With this, we will try to look into the basic concepts of earth-friendly and adaptive homes – two concepts that are closely interrelated.

Earth-friendly Home Designs

These designs are born out of the campaigns of several countries for an environment-friendly lifestyle or sustainable living, which of course includes house designs. Along with this, professionals in home construction and design have also innovated their skill set to meeting these new standards.

When we speak of environment-friendly home designs, this has a lot to do with the materials used to build or renovate the house. For instance, some architects have been practicing the use of biodegradable materials in house interiors.

These design techniques closely resemble that of the ancient times, when majority of the house materials come from natural sources. Even the paint products for the house have to be eco-friendly, which is not only safer for the walls, but for the occupants’ health, as well.

Other strategies being applied by architects is the creation of outdoor rooms in the house.

This means using natural light and air to save on energy for the room. All these, along with eco-friendly household practices easily contribute to having an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

Adaptive Home Designs

This type of home design deals with two major things:

1) the ability of the house to adapt to the changing lifestyle of its residents, and 2) ability of the house to adapt and withstand the various environmental changes.

Also operating around the concept of sustainable living, these designs are meant to make the house last longer and the family living in it safer. Common feature of these homes are sturdy lumber and concrete, insulated panels, and dome-shaped ceilings. These type of house built has been proven to be more resistant to storms, tornadoes, and even earthquakes by the Wind Engineering Research Center. With natural calamities hitting the country almost every year, it pays to be keener in the construction materials used for your house.

When it comes to adaptive spaces for home, this is where secret rooms and sliding door comes in. This is also an innovative trend that architects and interior designers are looking into, in order to make a house with limited floor area still spacious enough for a growing family. Aside from choosing space-saver and multi-purpose furniture, it is also important to choose a house design that is easier to renovate in case the need for expansion arises. And this is exactly what your architect mean when they speak of adaptive home design.

The Green Economy Begins With Sustainable Design

Green initiatives are a driving force in the Obama Administration’s economic plans. The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is expected to create 3.5 million green economy jobs over the next two years. While federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have increased budgets and revitalized green mandates to power the Administration’s sustainable agenda, there are signs that the private side is getting on board.

With increased public and private commitments to green initiatives, awareness of sustainable design polices and practices have become paramount to the success of the green movement. Since the emergence of the green movement, sustainable design has remained a random compilation of national policy interspersed with local applications.

The Obama Administration is applying standardized third-party sustainable fundamentals to federal projects and carrying those fundamentals to state and local levels. Effective sustainable design addresses three basic concepts:

·         The reduction of negative factors on the environment

·         The reduction of negative health and comfort factors upon building occupants

·         The increase of building efficiency and performance

Like all federal agencies, the GSA is determined to minimize the bottom-line impact during the implementation of sustainable design for all the agency’s projects. In the past, the private sector has been wary of the cost of green design and construction. GSA maintains that increased construction costs related to effective sustainable design are more than offset by the reduction in operating costs and specifically in reduced energy and waste costs.

To achieve cost-effective sustainable design, the federal government has set forth a six-step process that the Obama Administration hopes the private sector will utilize.

·         Site selection and preparation

·         Utilization of building operating systems that minimize the use of non-renewable products

·         Insistence on the use of sustainable building products

·         Address the preservation and conservation of water

·         Improve the building interior environment to the benefit of the occupants

·         Implement environmentally responsible operational and maintenance practices

Accordingly, the GSA has received a $5.5 billion budget allocation for green projects. The EPA has finally received supplements to its dwindling budget. The Agency’s budget was trimmed each of the past 8 years, resulting in a 27% cumulative decrease. 

The new $10.5 billion budget includes a $3.9 billion allocation for improvements to the country’s water infrastructure. Specifically, the agency will address 1000 clean water projects and 700 drinking water initiatives ranging from, San Francisco to Chesapeake Bay and including major projects in The Great Lakes and Lake Champlain.

The acknowledged universal and primary consideration in sustainable design has become the carbon footprint. The recognition of the carbon impact offers sustainable designers tangible criteria upon which every product, every building and every green initiative can be evaluated and promoted. In fact, the future of sustainable design and the development of carbon regulation will not only drive sustainable design but will unify the private and public sector’s sustainable focus.