How will the demand for green building force designers to evolve?

Project managers have a range of considerations to manage when designing new buildings or renovating existing constructions. While the final aesthetics and planned expenditure are usually two of the most significant concerns, environmental sustainability is beginning to have even more of an influence, with some projects created entirely around this school of thought.

These features are expected to become even more of a concern in the coming years as the world’s population rises and living conditions continue to change.

The future of urban living was the focus of the recent United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Summit 2015, with the organisation finding that architects are likely to see a renewed demand for green buildings.

Future cities demand sustainable design

According to the UN, cities are the habitat of choice for more than half the earth’s total population, meaning around 3.5 billion people call these areas home. However, this proportion is on the rise, with the organisation revealing that by 2030 this figure could reach as high as 60 per cent.

More than 60 per cent of the earth’s population will live in cities by 2030.

The challenge for members of the construction and architecture industries lies in the fact that urban areas use a significant amount of energy compared to their relative size. The UN found cities account for just 3 per cent of total land used on Earth, yet consume between 60 and 80 per cent of all energy and emit more than two-thirds of all carbon emissions.

There are already trends emerging as a response to these desires for more sustainable developments. The popularity of rooftop solar on homes and businesses throughout the Asia-Pacific region is one example, with these installations greatly reducing energy demands.

According to BP, solar power installations grew by 28.7 per cent throughout 2014, indicating region-wide demand for sustainable additions to construction projects.

The rapid urban growth in Asia is another example of the need for sustainable design in the construction industry. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the number of megacities in the region is on the rise. As of this year, there are 12 of these urban zones across the continent. By 2025, the ADB is expecting this number to rise to 25.

As these collections of structures are responsible for a large amount of air and noise pollution, it’s essential they are designed with sustainability in mind.

Which building materials will enhance sustainability?

As these trends evolve, they’re likely to have a notable effect on the materials that designers will have to work with. A report from Grand View Research found that there is substantial global demand for these sustainable building elements which is likely to create significant growth in the market’s value.

The organisation is expecting the green building materials industry to grow to a value of US$364 billion by the end of 2022. Grand View Research cites increased consumer awareness and cheaper costs for the affected materials as the key catalysts for the growth.

There are range of materials the firm is expecting designers to prioritise, including bamboo, wood, aerated concrete and fibre cement. Not only are these materials kinder to the environment, Grand View Research also notes their added durability and aesthetic qualities.

Has this been put into practice?

While many designers are still evaluating the potential of sustainable design and building materials, a building in Canada has provided a practical example for the industry to follow.

The building’s crowning achievement is being certified to a platinum standard according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) specifications. The project was a joint effort between TELUS and Westbank Projects Corp, and seeks to set an example.

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TELUS CEO Darren Entwistle believes the building will be notable feature on Vancouver’s skyline.

“It is our sincere hope that this exceptional space provides inspiration for all who live, work and visit here,” he explained.

“Indeed, TELUS Garden is Canada’s most beautiful and ambitious LEED Platinum building, and one of the most environmentally-friendly developments in North America.”

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A photo posted by Abundance Yeh (@abunderwear) on

Nov 5, 2015 at 10:53pm PST

The building achieves this feat thanks to a number of key elements of sustainable design, including the city’s largest solar array and a focus on providing green spaces for its inhabitants.

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