According to Springer, by 2050, the population of major cities will have doubled, especially in developing countries. Growing populations result in higher resource consumption, making predicting, planning, and building efficient building and transportation infrastructure harder. Further, the increasing climate change shows how important it is to build eco-friendly communities. And amid growing global concerns for achieving net-zero carbon emissions, innovative solutions to how and where people live are becoming vital in making lifestyles – and cities – more sustainable.
What Are Eco-Friendly Communities?
Studies have found that people in North America and Europe spend 90% of their time indoors. That means that the buildings we live in significantly impact our health and the well-being of our environment.
Eco-friendly communities encourage sustainable living, thus creating healthy living and preserving the planet.
The Future of Eco-Friendly Communities
Thanks to innovative technologies, land developers can apply different strategies that provide comfortable and efficient living without degrading land and the environment. These aspects will highlight the future of eco-friendly communities:
Maximizing Solar Power With Earthship Homes
Maximizing the sun's heat and light and designing buildings meant to make the most of it is borrowed from the futuristic Earthship homes built by Michael Reynolds.
Earthship homes collect warmth in an atrium at the front, with the thick thermal mass of the walls then regulating the temperature inside. Beyond taking advantage of free heat and light from the sun, these houses will be built with efficiency in mind yet will be high-performing.
Earthship home will likely spot the following features:
New builds facing towards the sun to make the most of light and warmth
Solar panels on the roof to heat water
Maximum insulation to reduce energy demands
Charging points for electric cars
Homes located near good transport connections to minimize vehicle usage
Low-carbon heat pumps
Natural and Recycled Materials for Carbon Neutrality
Achieving net-zero carbon emissions isn't a far-fetched dream if buildings could adopt natural or recycled materials.
Natural products remove carbon from the air as they grow but still make some of the most stylish and comfortable buildings. The best natural materials for the building include hemp, wood fiber, straw, and other grasses.
Alternatively, the buildings will be made from recycled or low-carbon materials such as recycled plastic bricks, stone and grass, adobe materials, straw bales, mycelium, and cross-laminated timber stones. Recycling is excellent at reducing waste and the environmental degradation caused by landfill waste.
People will also increasingly use materials that require less to make. A good example is unfired earth bricks. These bricks are constructed using earth materials but are not fired to dry them like conventional bricks. Instead, masonry units are air-dried after manufacture to reduce shrinkage and improve strength. Air drying significantly reduces energy use.
Beyond solar power usage, future eco-villages will embrace energy efficiency on a much larger scale than we see today. The use of smart grids and smart meters, and network monitoring will increase to help users better manage their energy consumption behaviors.
LEDs will remain the core of efficient night lighting. Expect more innovations to introduce even lower energy usage while combining manmade lighting with architectural aspects –such as larger windows and skylights –to reduce energy use.
Higher energy efficiency also means higher insulation to prevent energy leaks. The same principle applies to water usage –skipping traditional taps for water-efficient, automatic faucets, and shower heads to lower wastage. In some cases, bathrooms will spot bowls instead of showers to keep water waste as low as possible.
Also, thermal and electricity energy storage will enhance energy efficiency. The result is having greener and more efficient energy systems.
Green roofs are already popular but there are many reasons why the future will accommodate more of them. A green roof is essentially having a garden on your rooftop. Green roofs provide a natural shade, extract heat from the air, and reduce roof surface and surrounding air temperatures.
Green roofs in a concrete jungle, like most urban centers, moderate the heat island effect, reducing cooling needs and the need to use electricity for heat pumps. In fact, green roofs lower building temperatures by 30–40°F compared to roofs made with traditional roofing materials.
EPA says a city with green roofs reduces the temperatures by up to 5°F and green roofs can reduce building energy use by 0.7% saving home and building owners up to $0.23 per square foot of the roof's surface.
Accommodating nature in places with less and less of it –primarily big cities –will become more acceptable. The drivers of more natural cities will include:
Strategic landscaping –such as xeriscaping
Underground –soil-free hydroponic farms
Solar walls, etc.
With more natural elements, people will enjoy better air quality, have improved biodiversity, and significantly reduce the heat-island effect.
Increased biodiversity will help in maintaining urban gardens and farms. We'll also see less habitat destruction as cities grow.
Self-Contained Social Neighborhoods
Self-contained neighborhoods aim to cut down transportation and infrastructure needs and car usage by making the neighborhood self-sufficient. They, in turn, make compacted cities with mixed building designs, working spaces in proximity, shared spaces and amenities, increased human interaction, sustainable urban agriculture, etc.
To support self-contained social neighborhoods, space will be designed for resilience and adaptability. That means designing a city in a way that adapts and copes with natural and man-made disasters such as floods and earthquakes.
Creating smart and adaptive infrastructure that recovers from aftershocks and stresses enables this idea. More than that, the design accommodates persons with disabilities by creating special pathways and ramps.
There are many advantages to eco-friendly communities. For example, sustainable buildings deliver long-term savings by leveraging energy and water consumption efficiency.
The most profound impact of green building design is its ability to enhance the health and well-being of occupants by creating healthier indoor environments that promote comfort and productivity
Ultimately, we save the planet from climate change and live longer healthier lives.
Campbell and Mance Resources is committed to a healthier planet. That's why we prioritize sustainability in designing, developing, and building sustainable communities for today and the future. Learn more.