As concern regarding climate change grows around the world, nearly every industry is taking a moment to reflect on how it can also contribute to protecting the natural environment and making the world a better place. While the climate predictions are certainly dismal, every single step towards a more sustainable future is important and valuable.
Sustainable, eco-friendly architecture has increasingly become a topic of discussion as designers work to develop plans for buildings that lower their environmental impact, while also ensuring that the buildings will be able to stand up against the increasingly extreme weather patterns that we are all due to start experiencing in the coming decades.
As sustainable architecture strategies develop and are implemented in different places around the world, designers have been able to show that there is no need to compromise on aesthetics when prioritizing sustainability. In fact, when the latest architecture trends are analyzed, it looks as though sustainable architecture strategies and aesthetics are beginning to completely change the industry and revolutionize the fundamentals of architectural design itself.
Sustainability at the core of the design
Unsurprisingly, the most important element of sustainable architecture are the nuts-and-bolts, fundamental aspects of the design itself. When it comes to active sustainable design, architects can boost a building’s sustainability by consulting with experts in environmentally friendly construction, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers.
Through consultations, architects will be able to understand how to implement high-efficiency electrical systems, HVAC, plumbing, and waste removal systems to minimize the building’s environmental impact.
There are also passive design strategies that can be effectively utilized. These passive strategies can include everything from taking into consideration the sun’s orientation and the area’s climate when deciding where windows should be placed, and how natural light and ventilation can best be taken advantage of for a particular project.
Depending on the particular climate of the area, it may also be possible for designers to consider how thermal mass techniques could be implemented in order to harness solar energy for the building. One example of this would be using thick walls for a building to absorb the sun’s heat during the day, which would then be slowly released as the day cools and night begins.
Sustainable building materials
When designing a building, every choice can make a difference, and this includes choosing building materials. More and more architects are choosing to select sustainable building materials, including steel, lumber, concrete and finishing materials over less sustainable materials. This trend towards sustainable materials is causing the building material industry around the world to reconsider its focus and dedicate more resources and attention to sustainable product lines.
Case study: Sun International’s Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom
The gambling and casino industry is likely one of the last sectors you would think of when considering sustainability and environmentally focused design. The biggest casinos are known for their opulence – which typically means that they are not particularly environmentally friendly. The Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, for example, consume horrendous amounts of water and require a massive energy expenditure every single day.
However, Sun International’s Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom has set itself apart from its competitors with its focus on drastically cutting down its plastic use and focusing on sustainability in every possible way. The Sibaya management team has revamped its food and beverage offering for more sustainable fare, has reduced waste by focusing on recycling efforts, and has just launched a solar power project for the property.
Gamblers who are not able to travel to Sibaya can still enjoy the fun and excitement of gambling by playing on some of the top online casinos. The online casino industry has exploded in popularity over the course of the last few years, and gamblers opting for digital over brick-and-mortar gambling experiences could mean that the environmentally wasteful casinos such as those found in Las Vegas may someday become a thing of the past.
Xeriscaping is imperative to encouraging the return of nature and the development of green spaces – however small they may be. Xeriscaping is landscaping in which plants that are native to the area are grown and the need for irrigation is limited. Through focusing on native plants for gardens and green spaces, landscapers are able to drastically reduce – if not eliminate – the need for watering. In addition to focusing on native plants, successful xeriscaping also includes the use of various mulches, potential amendments to the soil, the use of water-efficient plants, and the limitation of turf and sod use.
Managing stormwater and rainfall
Depending on the location, stormwater management can be a major challenge for architects. Buildings and pavement cover giant stretches of land, and when it comes to rainwater, this means that the water is not absorbed by the soil and instead is channelled down into stormwater drains that can be blocked fairly easily, causing flooding and leading the surrounding environment to slowly dry out.
Utilizing techniques such as retention ponds and pervious pavement materials not only ensures that rainwater does not collect on pavement or buildings – and thus cause issues – but also ensures that the water is able to slowly make its way into the soil and replenish the subterranean ecosystems below.
Case study: Bosco Verticale
High-rise buildings can actually generate more waste and energy expenditure than the same number of residential units would generate. However, the famed Bosco Verticale project presents a new, radical way of thinking about high-rise developments and cityscapes. Bosco Verticale, or Vertical Forest, is the prototype for a new type of building that focuses on how humans can interact with the natural world and incorporate it into their daily lives – even in the middle of a big city.
Bosco Verticale is covered in lush plants and trees to the extent that the towers do not even look like buildings. After a few years, the plants have matured and the buildings are now home to thousands of people and roughly 1,600 different species of butterflies and birds.