Even though drastic climate change forecasts can be depressing, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic.

Photo by Gábor Molnár on Unsplash

To put it another way, the most pressing environmental and social concerns of our day prompt a steady stream of innovative solutions. In addition, some of the most promising solutions for sustainability are aimed at the home and office. The next generation of energy-efficient homes and workplaces are now possible thanks to the latest technological innovation. Let’s take a look at some of these sustainable solutions for your home and office that can inspire you to draw a floor plan incorporating them.

Smart powered areas

A UK architecture studio has published FCBS Carbon, an open-source digital tool for creating more energy-efficient buildings. The technology aids architects in calculating a building’s lifetime carbon emissions. The platform was created in response to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge, asking for net-zero carbon buildings.

Image by 政徳 吉田 from Pixabay

Use of unexpected materials

Materials used in creating a home or office might account for up to 25% of the total lifetime emissions. One example is concrete. It provides up to 7% of annual human-caused CO2 emissions. The good news is that low-carbon materials are being innovated — from novel cement alternatives to the utilization of natural materials like lumber, hemp, and straw. Wood-based materials may offer negative emission potential. 

For example, cross-laminated timber (CLT) can ‘lock up’ carbon taken from the atmosphere by trees. With over $6 trillion in annual worldwide infrastructure investment required to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the significance of these new materials alone cannot be underestimated.

Usage of timber in buildings 

In Norway, timber is employed to remarkable effect, as sturdy as steel but considerably more eco-friendly. Norway’s architects built the world’s tallest timber building with a low carbon footprint. After two years of development, the 18-story Mjstrnet (Mjsa Tower) was completed in March 2019. The tower is made of glulam and tiny sheets of spruce glued together to form columns and beams. Glulam withstands harsh weather, earthquakes, and fire testing as well as concrete. 

Image by Robs123 from Pixabay

Compared to steel and concrete production, using lumber as a building material significantly reduces carbon emissions. Mjstrnet was prefabricated, with modules made in factories before deploying on-site. This strategy saves money, lowers waste, promotes reuse, and saves energy on the construction site.

Cool chargeable wooden flooring

People at ETH Zurich are working on a wood floor that can power things. A layer of treated wood with electrodes is laid down on top of it. The triboelectric effect makes the electrodes vibrate as people walk across the floor. As a result, friction generates electricity, which is used to charge things up.

The new flooring method was tried out on a piece of wood coated with silicone, which quickly stores electrons. The other wood has metal ions and organic compounds that might lose electrons. The method caused the wood to produce an electric current that was 80 times stronger than normal wood. After a few seconds of pressing, an A4-sized piece of this flooring was able to power both LED lights and calculators.

Green office towers

A tower with passive ventilation controls temperature, distributes fresh air to offices, and saves electricity. An innovative passive ventilation system by Gensler in the US ‘breathes’ to manage building temperature. Skyscrapers in Pittsburgh and Ohio have a ‘double skin’ where two panes of glass are separated, creating a hole for fresh air. When sensors detect ideal weather and temperature, they open the cavity, allowing fresh air into the building. 

A solar chimney pulls stale air through open windows as it warms and climbs. Unlike most structures, Gensler’s technology uses no net energy. Solar power activates the natural ventilation system for 42% of the year. With other environmentally friendly features such as abundant natural light and rain-capture recycling, this building has the potential to reduce energy use by half.

Image by naobim from Pixabay

Conclusion

Technological innovations have been steadily increasing in being more efficient, but the future will demand these innovations be put into action and extended to more commercial use.