2018’s Top Green Building Trends Look to Disaster – Resilience, Smart Home Tech, and More

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible throughout a building’s life-cycle–from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction.

Most emerging trends in green building have tended to focus on energy conservation and sustainable building practices. But in 2018, Earth’s changing environment and emerging technologies have caused quite a seismic shift in the way architects and community planners look at green building practices.

Building for Tomorrow’s Ecosystems

Specifically, building designers are looking to the concept of disaster resiliency in the wake of 2017’s disastrous hurricane season and this year’s swath of nor’easters and blizzards that have been plaguing the West Coast of the United States all winter. A resilient building is designed to withstand a variety of disasters without losing its essential, life-protecting functions. It’s a smart investment for designers and residents; FEMA currently reports that every dollar spent on resiliency saves four dollars in recovery efforts.

But what does resiliency look like in design and function for a typical home? Building for disaster resiliency can take many different forms. Some designers are turning to aerodynamic designs that can withstand extreme wind and rain. Hip roof designs, which are the most basic type of roof, also repel rain or snow quite easily. In general, elevated building designs help eliminate flooding as a potential hazard while designers are giving heavy consideration to these designs in areas that are prone to storm-driven water, tsunamis, and heavy rain.

Designers are also changing the materials they employ in their designs to include stormproof building materials and flood-resistant materials such as stone, brick, concrete, decay-resistant wood, and fiber-reinforced materials to help mitigate storm damage.

In short, developers tend to consider resiliency in terms of mitigation and insurance costs, while architects and designers are considering more extreme weather patterns than they might have during previous storm and hurricane seasons.

Employing Smart Home Technology to Protect Loved Ones

The emerging smart home technology market is also proving to be a major trend for designers and builders in 2018. The latest smart home tech can provide major efforts towards disaster preparedness and mitigating extreme climate events.

For example, smart home automation systems can be employed to control power distribution during a disaster. Smart thermostats are Internet-connected devices that can monitor a home’s temperature and power usage and adjust throughout the day to maximize efficiency. Smart speakers can be used to monitor weather watches, alerts, and warnings to help families better prepare to face an approaching storm or other weather hazard.

Home security systems can provide benefits beyond security by detecting fires or floods and alerting the homeowners and appropriate authorities. These systems can also be monitored remotely in the event of an evacuation.

Expect to see more disaster resiliency features in smart home devices as the market continues to evolve.

Different Energy Sources for a Better Tomorrow

Of course, architects and designers haven’t abandoned basic concepts like energy and power needs. Builders are increasingly looking to reduce dependency on power grid infrastructure, especially in the wake of Puerto Rico’s disastrous power crisis during last year’s hurricane season.

Another trend concerning energy is the implementation of solar technology as a way to combat energy costs and reliance on the power grid. Power storage systems are another emerging trend as battery systems like the Tesla Powerwall prove that the concept of storing electricity can help mitigate the impacts of storm events.

2018 might just be the year that our homes became not only tough, but smart as well.

Photo Credit: Inhabitat