What will self-sufficient buildings of the future look like?May 16, 2022
The world around us is changing. The climate crisis is affecting everyone, whether they acknowledge it or not, with rising temperatures and loss of biodiversity altering our planet rapidly. In addition, the population is on the rise, meaning that we have to find new ways to feed and house everyone around the world.
Fortunately, there are plenty of people who are working hard to come up with sustainable solutions to help us re-balance our relationship with the environment. This change has to start with the infrastructure of the cities and towns that we live in, especially since we spend so much time at home and at work.
Self-sufficient buildings are those that produce their own energy without relying on external sources – they have everything that they need onsite. Here, we take a look at some of the features of self-sufficient buildings we’re likely to see in the future.
Renewable energy sources for a self-sufficient building
One of the base requirements of running a building is having power, whether it’s a home or an office. Traditionally, this energy would have been produced by companies burning fossil fuels, but recently, renewable energy companies and renewable tariffs have started to push towards the centre stage.
Perhaps the most well-known renewable energy source is solar power. Whilst solar panels were once slightly clunky-looking, expensive blocks, modern solar is sleek and a good investment. Especially in a time of global energy price rises, producing your own energy is better for the planet and for your wallet.
The future is likely to see this expand even further. Solar glass is a new technology developed by the University of Michigan, and absorbs and stores energy in the same way as solar panels. When you consider the modern architect’s penchant for large swathes of glass in design, this could be the perfect opportunity to look good and generate power.
Part of keeping any building efficient is only using the resources you need, when you need. Smart controls are a great way to keep everything running smoothly, and can be excellent when paired with renewable energy storage solutions. These devices can detect when an area of the building is being used, and adjust the heating and lighting accordingly.
This saves you from unnecessary energy consumption, meaning that there is more in the renewable energy battery for when you actually need it. They can also save you money, with experts estimating that homeowners using smart systems can expect to save 10-20% on their bills. What’s more, many can be controlled remotely, meaning that you’ll never accidentally leave a light on again.
Green vehicle support
It’s clear that electric and hydrogen vehicles are the future, as they’re more environmentally friendly and efficient than their fossil fuel-powered counterparts. But at the moment, the infrastructure isn’t there to support EV charging in many locations, which can be a real issue when it comes to drivers buying these cars.
In the future, hopefully we’ll see more of these types of vehicles on the road, but it will require self-sufficient buildings to also generate enough renewable energy to offer charging for EVs. Rather than just one or two plug in points, there will need to be a row of them for office buildings. There could also be some kind of system whereby drivers are notified when the car is ready to unplug, meaning that someone else can take their turn.
To sum up
Whilst the looming threat of climate change is scary, there is plenty of work being done to help us renegotiate our relationship with nature in a more healthy way. Self-sufficient buildings are likely to be the cornerstone of permanent change, helping us live and work in a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way.
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