If you’re a part of the architectural community, the word “sustainability” definitely might not be something new.
But how exactly can it be implemented in our projects?
An architect’s life has never been one that is undemanding. In recent years, besides building aesthetically pleasing and fully functional structures, they are also expected to incorporate highly sustainable solutions in their designs- to reduce both the impact the building has on the environment and the client’s long-term costs. There are multiple low-cost building material options that you can explore as well.
One good method is to employ materials that are proven to have a positive influence on it’s surrounding ecosystem. With the discovery of advanced and sustainable materials, you can incorporate smart solutions to reduce energy usage, improve air quality and much more.
While choosing materials that suit best to your design proposals, it helps to know the advantages and most importantly the limitations of the materials.
Every building material gives you an opportunity to both experiment on it’s worst traits and exploit its best traits.
Cross laminated timber is produced by gluing together layers of solid sawn lumber. This layered wood is often created into modules and then transported to the site. CLT is structurally sound because the wood is glued perpendicularly in the layers.
CLT may be new to the market, but the versatility of the material coupled with it’s aesthetic finish attracts more people by the day.
Glass has been used as a building material for its strength, elegance and versatility. Over the past decade, glass as a building material has taken over principal components of a building. Solar glass helps integrate power generating capability into such an extensively used building material. It absorbs ultraviolet wavelengths from the existing renewable solar energy and converts it into electricity.
Solar glass is sustainable, all the while keeping intact the elegance of glass. It has appealed to a wider audience and might as well be a game changer. If we’re going have glass as a building material, we might as well reap the most benefits out of it.
Bioplastics are made from renewable resources already available in nature. They are biodegradable and do not release any excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. There is an ongoing research on the methods of production of bioplastics, which can prove to be efficient solutions to design problems.
We always talk about reducing synthetic plastic consumption. And that’s where materials like bioplastics offer a more sustainable alternative to our depleting environment.
Pollution absorbing bricks, also known as ‘Breathe Bricks’ are excellent alternatives to conventional bricks. They are porous concrete blocks designed to filter pollution from the exterior atmosphere, and allow clean air inside the buildings.
The brick’s faceted surface and filter was inspired from the cyclone filtration system, and was created by Architect Carmen Trudell. The spinning of the cyclone filter helps deposit the particulate matter that results in pollution inside the brick, leaving behind a clean circulation of air in its environment.
When a building material interacts and contributes positively to its surrounding environment, it’s definitely worth it.
Cigarette butts constitute toxic substances that have the potential to significantly increase pollution in our environment. An invention by Professor Abbas Mohajerani and team, made possible the incorporation of cigarette butts to the production of bricks.
When there’s uncontrolled production of waste in our environment, Cigarette Butt Bricks are a clever way to turn what’s discarded into something functional.
We often turn a blind eye to the fact that biology and architecture have a lot in common. Cellulose, in non-technical terms, is the backbone of all natural materials already available in our environment. Bacterial cellulose is biodegradable, which makes it a better material alternative. Bacterial synthesis creates the provision of sustained nutrition, lengthening the life cycle of the material.
Bacterial cellulose has the potential to replace membrane structural components of the materials and it sure is coming for its alternatives in the future.
Hydrogel is a three dimensional network of polymers. The students of Barcelona’s institute for advanced architecture have created an innovative facade material known as Hydrogel Ceramic. It constitutes a mixture of clay and hydrogel which has the ability to inflate in water and hold its structure.
Hydroceramic is an excellent example of best utilizing inherent properties of responsive materials in the built environment.
Straw bale is a building material that is made of bales (a large quantity of material pressed tightly together) of straw. A mixture of clay, sand and straw is used to create insulated walls out of straw bales.
Although straw bale is an unconventional building material, it’s sustainable properties make it the top contenders when it comes to sustainability.
Tesla Solar tiles have integrated solar properties into the roof tiles. It acts as an alternative to the bulky and unappealing solar panel attachment and instead keeps the aesthetic appeal of the roof intact.
Tesla solar tiles are revolutionizing the solar industry by making it an attractive form of a sustainable solution.
Aluminum foam is self-explanatory as it is porous aluminium panels formed through injection of air into molten aluminium. This often consists of 100% recycled aluminium that can be manipulated an endless amount of times.
Mycelium is a bio-material made of fungal threads, cellulose, and proteins. Due to its unique structure, it can be used even in the architecture field for its acoustic and thermal insulation properties.
In this era of unimaginably tall skyscrapers and expansive buildings, it’s important we consider alternatives like an aluminum foam to reduce the consumption of building materials.
Many architects today are communicating environmental concerns through the adaptation of ecologically friendly materials and methods of construction. We see the emergence of alternative building materials by the day. And there’s no excuse not to experiment. Because the widely used materials of today have adverse side effects we cannot afford today or tomorrow.
For every need there’s a solution that is more sustainable that contributes to a better living environment. And that is where we need to head to make a better living.
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