Climate change has been impacting individuals, societies, businesses and entire nations for decades now. The construction industry is in the limelight of the climate change debate as it is said to have a major contribution of roughly 40% to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This constitutes construction materials, heating, cooling and lighting facilities of the infrastructures. The environmental concerns are driving home the need to change traditional architectural practices, materials and building codes. As a result, there is a huge potential in the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) industries for sustainable innovations to combat the impending dangers of climate change. Umpteen sustainable materials and products have already been in production to address environmental concerns. Below are 8 such innovations that have laid the foundation for further research in greener solutions.

Algal Microforest by MuseLAB

Inspired by the resilience and efficacy of algae, MuseLAB invented modular street furniture- ‘Algal Microforest’ to tackle the hazardous AQI of the city of Mumbai. Mimicking a traditional forest in an urban scape, this 2m tall undulating green canopy provides shade, protection from rain and highly purified air from carbon sponges overhead. During the day, the assembly absorbs carbon dioxide in the presence of a light source. While at night, the same structure emits a greenish glow creating an inviting environment for friendly conversations.

Marine algae are used for this project as it absorbs 4.4kg of CO2 for every 1kg of algal biomass. These ‘Marino Moss Balls’ are housed in test tubes in a propagation medium. A cluster of test tubes is inserted in hexagonal panels that are then fixed on a metallic assembly.

Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet1
Algal Microforest View From Street_© MuseLAB

Bioceramic Domes by Geoship

Geoship combines geodesic geometry with bioceramic crystal to manufacture carbon-neutral bioceramic domes that can last 500 years. Their design addresses a multitude of crises in the USA like unaffordable housing, climate change, chronic diseases, and loneliness. The entire assembly is entirely made from bioceramic composite. Insulation is made by entraining air into ceramic while panels and frames are formed by combining basalt and hemp fibres. These homes are fireproof, disaster-proof, and mould-proof, and can be repaired, resurfaced and recycled.

The assembly can be connected in many combinations to create studios, homes and entire villages efficiently. 

Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet2
Bioceramic Dome Design_©Geoship

Photocatalytic Mineral Paint- Soldalit -ME by KEIM

This mineral paint by KEIM is suitable for facades and provides better air quality benefits as compared to other versions. The paint not only retains its colour for a longer period but also cleans the air through the process of photocatalysis. The mineral facades act as catalysts and in the presence of light, harmful nitrogen oxides are converted to soluble nitrates which are washed off by rain. This process prevents the accumulation of spores and decomposes algae and organic dirt which is an added advantage.

Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet3
KEIM Soldalit-ME Improves The Air_©KEIM

MycoComposite by Evocative

Ecovative bio fabricated the eco-friendly architectural elements leveraging their MycoComposite technology. This process involves upcycling the farming leftovers with mycelium. Their hemp blend is naturally flame retardant which eventually provides insulation and noise-dampening benefits in the interiors. The technology is durable, plastic-free, and fully compostable at home. 

Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet4
MycoComposite Hemp Blend_© Ecovative

Photosynthetica Curtain by ecoLogic Studio

This digitally designed curtain demonstrates how algae can be integrated into architectural elements to achieve carbon neutrality. This urban curtain was installed on the facade of the Irish revenue and customs building in Dublin. The assembly consists of 16, 2X7 m modules which function as a photobioreactor. This acts as a bioplastic container that absorbs and utilizes daylight to feed the algae and then release purified oxygen from the top in the urban microclimate. The unfiltered air containing CO2 enters through the watery medium from the bottom and is fixated in the algal cultures as biomass. This substance can be later harvested to produce the raw material for the bioplastic for the curtain.

Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet5
PhotoSynthetica Curtain wrapping the Irish Revenue and Customs building in Dublin, Ireland_© ecoLogic Studio
Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet6
Bioplastic Curtain_© ecoLogic Studio

Ping & Pong Ventilation Ceramic Blocks by Mukura Ceramics

These ceramic blocks with playful size perforations help in easy cleaning. The perforations are a game changer in the design as they provide natural cross-ventilation and eliminate the need for expensive air conditioning. These can be used in interior partitions and can double up as rain screens on heavy downpour days.

Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet7
Ping Pong Ceramic Screen_© Mukura Ceramics
Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet8
Ping Pong Ceramic Block_Mukura Ceramics

Soft Cells Acoustic Panels by Kvadrat Acoustics

These panels are made from 44% recycled aluminium and the acoustic padding is made from 38% recycled mineral wool. Due to a patented tensioning mechanism, these panels are unaffected by temperature and humidity and thus possess longevity. Furthermore, these panels can be reupholstered and components can be reused thus making a significant contribution to environmental building schemes like LEED, BREEAM, DGNB and HQE. The panels can easily accommodate fixtures like switches, AV equipment, plugs etc in the design without losing any aesthetics. 

Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet9
Soft Cells Acoustic Panels_© Kvadrat Acoustics
Is climate change reshaping the architecture? - SHeet10
Soft Cells Panels Can Aesthetically Integrate Switches in Design_ © Kvadrat Acoustics

Sequin Facade System by Solar Lab

These solar facades by Solar lab combine on-site energy generation into the skin of the building itself. The ability to sculpt each panel 3 dimensionally opens avenues for creative freedom thereby replacing the traditional unattractive claddings with rooftop solar cell installations. Other sustainable features include durability, panel-level monitoring of energy generation, and full recyclability.

Sequin Solar Panel Facade_©Solar Lab

References:

Arch Daily, 2022. Custom Solar Facades – Sequins. [Online]
Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/catalog/us/products/28593/solar-facades-sequins-solarlab?ad_source=neufert&ad_medium=gallery&ad_name=close-gallery
[Accessed 21 11 2022].

AZURE, 2021. 8 Innovative Products Leading the Way in Sustainable Design. [Online]
Available at: https://www.azuremagazine.com/article/8-innovative-products-leading-the-way-in-sustainable-design/
[Accessed 21 11 2022].

ecoLogic Studio, 2022. Photo. SynthEtica Curtain. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ecologicstudio.com/projects/photo-synth-etica
[Accessed 21 11 2022].

Ecovative, 2022. MycoComposite. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ecovative.com/pages/mycocomposite
[Accessed 21 11 2022].

Geoship, 2022. Geoship. [Online]
Available at: https://www.startengine.com/offering/geoship
[Accessed 21 11 2022].

KEIM, 2022. Photocatalytic Mineral Paint – Soldalit®-ME. [Online]
Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/catalog/us/products/14888/exterior-mineral-paint-keim-soldalit-me-keim?ad_source=neufert&ad_medium=gallery&ad_name=close-gallery [Accessed 20 11 2022].

Kvadrat Acoustics, 2022. Acoustic Panels – Soft Cells Broadline. [Online]
Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/catalog/us/products/14881/acoustic-panels-soft-cells-broadline-kvadrat-soft-cells?ad_source=search&ad_medium=projects_tab&ad_source=search&ad_medium=search_result_products
[Accessed 21 11 2022].

Müller, M., Krick, T. & Blohmke, J., 2020. Putting the construction sector at the core of the climate change debate. [Online]
Available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/ce/en/pages/real-estate/articles/putting-the-construction-sector-at-the-core-of-the-climate-change-debate.html
[Accessed 20 11 2022].

MuseLAB, n.d. Algal- Microforest. [Online]
Available at: https://jasem-pirani.squarespace.com/algal-microforest
[Accessed 20 11 2022].

Author

Shreya is an enthusiastic interior designer. Bringing a positive change in the society through meticulous research and design is her ultimate goal. She is always on the lookout for broadening her design perspective through experiencing and reading with a keen interest in sustainable design methods.

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