Green Architecture, Brave New World

For some urbanites, a sustainable lifestyle means unplugging their MacBook at night, carrying a reusable tote bag to Whole Foods, and buying organic cotton t-shirts at American Apparel. While doing all these things can certainly help to lower one’s carbon footprint, believe it or not, there are even greater ways to live green. Enter a new wave of architects and designers, who (literally) take green lifestyle to new heights.

As natural resources dwindle, it is no wonder that sustainable architecture is a rapidly growing trend. Carbon neutral buildings and green housing projects are cropping up in cities around the world. Many countries now have their own rating systems for green buildings, such as the well-known LEED standard in the US. Companies like URBN Hotels are revamping the concept of eco-hotels by updating them for the urban jet-set. These new hotels feature minimalist aesthetics, recycled materials, and 5 star luxury, just for starters. From New York to Singapore, green housing projects are also making appearances. The benefits of living in one of these apartment complexes include solar powered energy, water-based air conditioning, and rain-water collection systems. Even the pre-fab home has seen a recent rise in popularity since it’s mid-century beginnings, with a new exhibit at MoMA in NYC dedicated solely to these DIY properties. Lastly, another emerging and innovative concept is the “smart building,” which incorporates bio-mimicry techniques into architecture, creating buildings that are seamlessly integrated with their surrounding environments.

What is interesting, and relevant, about all these new concepts is that it takes sustainability to a whole new level. In these new eco-buildings, people don’t have to consciously change their behaviors to live green; rather, it becomes their surroundings that are changing instead. Instead of focusing on changing the way people act, these buildings are designed to directly change the way people live by infusing sustainability into their daily lives. WU

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