Building a Better Future: Inspiring Innovations in Green Building Architecture
One of the driving forces behind our work at Switch is decreasing the environmental impact of commercial buildings amid the climate crisis. World leaders converged in Glasgow for COP26, and committed to addressing the carbon emissions from buildings for the first time ever at a day dedicated to the built environment on November 11, 2021. Inspired by the commitments made at COP26, we are highlighting some recent innovations in green buildings. These innovations motivate us to continue pushing the built environment toward a more sustainable future.
The construction industry accounts for around 38% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, and within this, concrete alone accounts for around 8%. A Swedish eco-town hopes to combat this, providing the blueprint for a new generation of ‘plyscrapers.’ Surrounded by 480,000 hectares of forest, Skellefteå boasts wooden schools, bridges, and car parks, and they recently built their new cultural center and the impressive Wood Hotel standing twenty floors tall–both entirely from wood. As a result, the joined buildings store about 9,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere. During its construction, it is estimated that project owners also reduced the number of truck deliveries by 90%, with barely any waste on-site. The trees for the timber were all harvested within a 60-km radius and now have been replenished.
Yet, despite the proximity of the town to the forest, the architects are keen to emphasize that this is not a standalone project. Robert Schmitz from White Arkitekter claims, “We think we could [transport this building] twice around the world and it would still be carbon neutral,” hinting at the potential of future ‘plyscrapers’.
Urban Rooftop Farming
By 2050, 80% of the world’s population will live in cities. Landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom shows us how urban areas could be designed and used efficiently to ensure sustainable and secure food production. Twenty-five miles outside of Bangkok, Voraakhom created a new green rooftop on the Rangsit Campus of Thammasat University. This encompasses a flood-water management system, as well as Asia’s largest rooftop organic farm, home to approximately 50 species of organically grown indigenous vegetables, herbs and rice. As a result, the farm can supply the canteens on campus with 20 tons of food per year, providing 80,000 meals. It also provides a habitat for pollinators, helping to restore biodiversity in built-up areas.
‘Growing’ Insulation with Bio-Based Materials
London-based bio-manufacturing company Biohm is leading the way in carbon negative architecture by growing and creating building materials derived from mushrooms, orange peel, cocoa husks and other food waste. By using the vegetative filament root structure of mushrooms (mycelium), Biohm created a mycelium insulation panel that will be the world’s first accredited mycelium insulation product. This is not only safer and healthier but outperforms petrochemical and plastic-based construction materials in thermal and acoustic insulation. To grow their mycelium, Biohm uses agricultural and commercial by-products that would otherwise end up in a landfill. This process is estimated to be carbon-negative, sequestering 16 tons of carbon per month. As a result, Biohm is one of the 17 companies in the Circulars Accelerator Cohort 2021.
The construction and real estate industry are changing, particularly with reference to green building architecture, and it is inspiring to see the talented and innovative people spearheading this change from all corners of the globe. Here at Switch, people and planet are at the forefront of everything we do, and we are proud of the impact we have had thus far in building a better future.
Talk to a smart building expert to learn more about how Switch helps portfolio managers reach their sustainability goals.