As Melbourne-based environmental consultants, we’re always looking out for more sustainable practises. Housing materials have become more sustainable in recent years but there’s still so much room for improvement. Furthermore – the traditional notion and process of building a home may be coming to a close with alternative methods such as prefabricated homes gaining traction. So, the question is, what does the future of housing hold?
We’ve spoken about modern sustainable housing before and some of the materials that are used to contribute towards a smaller carbon footprint. Eco homes don’t just rely on the materials to reduce energy expenditure, though, as they’re also powered by renewable green energy methods such as solar panels or wind turbines. And, for those that want to go that extra step further, there’s also the opportunity to try to harvest and use as much rainwater as possible.
The thermal properties of the building materials and sustainable insulation solutions will also help the internal temperature stay on track throughout the seasons. Overall, modern sustainable homes also cut labour and construction costs as well as emissions – but these are all current innovations and processes – so how can they be further improved?
In Melbourne, it’s becoming harder and harder to build a house within the inner suburbs, which is why we’re seeing so many apartments and high-rises cropping up. High-rise buildings are undoubtedly the future of inner-city living – they provide a smaller physical footprint whilst also accommodating population growth. But what’s being done to ensure the future of inner-city living is sustainable?
A high-rise village is being built in the Dutch city of Utrecht which has extraordinary sustainable potential. It will house 1000 units across three towers and will feature greenhouses that will supply fresh produce for the on-site restaurant and residents. Further community gardens will also be on each floor to encourage sustainable practices. Solar panels will be installed on the parking garages to ambitiously power the complex which has been named Mark.
This type of vertical ecosystem is a promising example of the type of innovation that’s possible. Whether or not the breadth of such a project is currently viable for mass-production around the world is yet to be seen – but it’s certainly an incredible showcase of things to come.
Prefabricated homes and components are constructed in specialised factories as opposed to on the actual site. This actually decreases the number of CO2 emissions released as the work is performed in a controlled factory environment – significantly cutting down on waste, construction time and also the number of labourers involved. There is also significantly less noise pollution released compared to building on-site (this is especially the case for highly populated urban environments where months of construction could affect the surrounding neighbours).
Prefabricated homes and components are completed a lot quicker than building on-site. The carefully controlled environment allows for any issues that may arise to be ironed out or even predicted and remedied – contributing to the fast completion times. Additionally, many prefabricated home manufacturers are committed to sustainability and will ensure that their products are built from sustainable materials and are equipped with solar panels and water tanks for eco-friendly living practices. Prefabricated homes also tend to be significantly smaller than traditional homes – essentially making them tiny homes which will exude far fewer emissions over its lifespan.
Homes made entirely of recycled plastic
Othalo, a Norwegian start-up company is attempting to build sustainable housing in Kenya, Cameroon and Senegal made entirely of recyclable plastics. This is an impressive undertaking as it essentially tackles two major global problems – pollution and housing shortages in poverty-stricken countries. The materials will be crafted from shredded plastic that’s combined with other elements and non-flammable materials.
Eight tonnes of recycled plastic will be able to produce 60-square-metre homes with the capacity to rise up to four storeys. Additionally, 2,800 homes are projected to be created on a single assembly line annually. Whilst this is an exceptional endeavour for multiple reasons – it’s still a very new concept and may not be a building solution that’s embraced commercially for many years to come. However, the long-term potential could bode well not only for poorer countries and regions but even metropolitan ecosystems.
Are you looking for environmental consultants in Melbourne?
Alpha Environmental are professional environmental consultants in Melbourne who specialise in a myriad of services such as mould, groundwater and asbestos testing and remediation. We also offer phase one, two and three environmental site assessments.
Feel free to contact us by calling 1300 039 181 or by filling out the enquiry form online.