In recent years, sustainable design has been gaining popularity with architects, builders, and homeowners; individuals (especially in Boulder County) are concerned with energy conservation and sustainability now more than ever. 2015 has been a great year for innovative green houses, as designers continue to focus on energy efficiency and natural or reusable materials to create better homes. Here are three of this year’s most noteworthy sustainable design trends:
One of the more popular ways to invest in green design is by using recycled building materials. Constructing a home with reclaimed lumber or straw-bale is a growing trend among designers and builders. Straw is an easily sourced and affordable material that makes for great insulation, while reclaimed wood from old structures can be used for building a new house or for decorative cladding.
Repurposed materials may be utilized for interior design too. For instance, reclaimed lumber may be turned into elegant floors, cabinets, or doors. Homeowners can also be sustainably minded consumers by purchasing gently used furniture and fixtures or newly designed pieces made from recycled materials, which in many cases may be more unique and affordable than brand new items.
Beyond using sustainable or organic materials to build a house, architects are also considering how incorporating nature into residential spaces affects the inhabitants’ health. Biophilic architecture is a green design movement that believes a resident’s emotional and physical well-being is directly connected to how often he or she interacts with the natural world.
Biophilic design has the ability to create vibrant living conditions by bringing natural elements from the outdoors inside. Residents will benefit from a daily reminder of their outside surroundings with decks or baconies, plenty of sunlight, and rooms decorated with live plants. Rather than feel trapped indoors, homeowners will be revitalized and relaxed if they’re able to interact with nature regularly within their homes.
Energy and Water Conservation
Nature can be a great source of comfort for people, but in the past decade it has also become a stressful topic of discussion. Climate change has made many individuals worry about the depletion of natural resources, which has lead to a reevaluation of their energy consumption. Energy and water conservation are probably the two most important factors in green design standards.
Zero or positive energy homes are leaders in the sustainability movement. A net zero energy house creates as much renewable energy as it consumes annually, while a positive energy property goes even further by producing more energy than it uses. These highly efficient homes emit less carbon emissions than conventional homes, combating global warming and wasteful energy habits.
Similarly, homes that utilize water conservation tools are also helpful, particularly in drought-stricken cities. Ways to conserve water include installing low or dual flush toilets, using high efficiency washing machines, landscaping with drought-tolerant plants, and harvesting rainwater.
From investing in energy efficiency to working with reusable materials, building sustainable houses is the main goal for many designers and homeowners. Designers have already made much progress in finding innovative ways to make homes both eco-friendly and stylish. Here in Boulder, residents have been invested in sustainable living for years and are open to learning new methods for conserving natural resources. It will be interesting to see what future trends will be added to the city’s inclusive green design movement.