17 Sustainable Architecture Design Ideas

Sustainable Architecture 1

1. Open Rainscreen

Sustainable Architecture 2Architect: NOMA Arkitekter Photo by: Jean Lorentzen, Petter Nordahl

Insulation is essential for managing the interior temperature of a building. But there are further measures you can take with your wall assemblies to make passive heating and cooling work even more efficiently. An open rainscreen allows air to vent through your siding, pulling stagnant air and moisture from the waterproof membrane and keeping ambient hot or cold air from passing through the insulation. This modern library renovation utilizes Kebony wood siding to this effect.

2. Natural Siding Materials

Sustainable Architecture 3Architect and Photo by: Arches

This Villa situated in a quaint valley in Lithuania takes a holistic eco-friendly approach to design and construction. Not only does its form and massing compliment the surrounding landscape, the architects specified products that come with the lowest possible carbon imprint. Using natural materials for siding, roofing, and decking goes a long way to minimizing the impact of any construction job. In the case of this villa, sustainably sourced and manufactured Kebony wood clads almost every exterior surface, blending it comfortably into the tree canopy and helping to protect the environment it inhabits.

3. Community Outdoor Space

Sustainable Architecture 4Architect: Mandaworks Photo by: Anthony Hill Photography

Sometimes sustainability is more than just efficient water heaters and low-impact specifications. Sometimes it’s about creating awareness for the natural beauty of our surroundings and reminding people of the communities that coexist with the natural world. This project in Malmo, Sweden provides residents and tourists with an eco-friendly place to gather and observe Mother Nature in all her abundance. In order to reinforce this connection, the designers used locally sourced modified wood for the deck spaces and raised benches.

4. Renewable, Hydraulic Energy Production

Sustainable Architecture 5Architect: Stein Hamre Arkitekter Photo by: Bjørn Leirvik

This hydraulic power plant in Norway shows everyone that even the most technical and functional of public works projects don’t have to be boring. The structure is a beautiful expression of what it means to collect renewable energy in the modern world. The formal expression paired with intense materiality reflects the serene landscape it sits adjacent to, and even raises awareness for the importance of a world rid of oil dependency. The Kebony wood siding will naturally develop a silver patina over time, mimicking the ever-changing beauty of the outdoors.

5. Rooftop Decks and Terraces

Sustainable Architecture 7Photo by: Salih Usta

The rooftop is perhaps the most underutilized space in building design. It is often an afterthought - something to shed rain and house mechanical equipment. However, there is valuable square footage atop a building that can not only be used for functional space, but to help cut down on energy consumption. Building a flat roof allows for usable deck gathering space and also areas for green roofs and trees to be planted. Adding greenery to your roof reduces the impact of direct sunlight and keeps your building cool, cutting down on the run-time of active cooling systems.

6. Low-Maintenance Exterior Siding

Architect and Photo by: MDH Arkitekter

Sustainability means durability. The most eco-friendly thing you can do when designing a building is making sure it stands up for the next 100 years. This reduces waste and energy costs over the course of a few decades and has the potential to make a huge long-term impact on global ecology. Using low-maintenance, long-lasting siding products, like the Kebony shiplap siding used in this student housing project, helps ensure a long life for the structure.

7. Use Eco-Friendly Design to Inspire

Architect: The Edible Bus Stop

The best way to spread the eco-friendly love is to make it approachable. Sometimes taking these things too seriously has a way of turning people away who aren’t looking to face some of the hard truths about the health of our planet. This project by Get Living London does exactly that - it uses design to poke fun at itself and also brings communities together and talking about the importance of healthy living. Healthy living translates to a healthy planet by being aware of the environments we inhabit.

8. Small Spaces, Big Ideas

Architect: TYIN Tegnestue & Rintala Eggertsson Architects Photo by: Andrew Devine

One of the best ways to lower the carbon footprint of your home is to lower the physical footprint of your home. This artist retreat in Northern Norway is a perfect example of tiny living that doesn’t sacrifice high design and inherent functionality. It is situated atop a raised dock that peeks over a waterway that swims past below. The unique shingle siding by Kebony provides the perfect compliment to crashing waves and serene mountain views.

9. Efficient, LED Lighting

Architect: LINK Arkitektur Photo by: Jiri Havran

Keeping your interiors bright and functional is important for any piece of architecture. However, all that artificial light can quickly run up your electricity bill - not to mention negatively impact the environment. The Waldorf School in Fredrikstad, Norway uses LED lighting to great effect. The structure has a distinctly modern design that promotes indoor air and light quality. When the large, strategically placed windows are flooding the interior with natural light, a unique selection of hanging LED bulbs does the trick.

10. Sustainable Wood Decking

Architect: Werner Nasahl, Dipl.-Ing. Architekt Photo by: Salih Usta

This pedestrian bridge in Berlin is a prime example of how to implement sustainably harvested and modified wood decking. When using this much of any given material, it’s important to consider quality  in addition to the carbon footprint. This product from Kebony is the perfect alternative to more commonly used tropical hardwoods and gives the bridge a character all to itself.

11. Using Recycled Materials

Architect: GoBoat Photo by: Olnhausen Design

This marina for the company Go Boat is meant to promote the beauty of the surrounding water by bringing people closer to it. They use recycled plastic to construct their boats, which complements nicely the sustainable wood that extends across the entire marina as well as within each boat. The project hopes to boost Stockholm’s water tourism while at the same time showing people that not all new production needs to come from unused raw materials.

12. Natural Light

Architect: Pir II Photo by: Angell foto AS / © Sindre Karlsen and Pir II

The best way to lower your artificial light usage is to introduce an abundance of natural light into the interior. This project for the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research utilizes a series of faceted volumes with large glazed openings, providing all the interior lighting they might need. This also provides for great views to the outside landscape, where the workers plan to do plenty of nature research on their downtime as well as when they are clocked in. The massive picture windows are interrupted with sustainable Kebony wood siding, adding natural dimension to the building.

13. Traditional Materials used in Innovative Ways

Architect: KREOD 

This unique and bizarre pavilion by architecture firm Kreod is emblematic of the design boundaries you can push using the most conventional construction materials. Using Kebony’s versatile and sustainable wood planks, they’ve introduced a pure geometric shape - the hexagon - to make the building inherently structural, and to be perfectly honest, quite remarkable. Planks are bolted together in an elegant pattern to compose both the structure and the envelope, using the system to take the place of two separate construction methods.

14. Don’t Disturb What You Don’t Have To

Architect: VEGA Landskab Photo by: VEGA Allesandro Merati

This playground project in Denmark is a great example of a functional public design that doesn’t try to do too much. The designers have carved out a few strategic areas for wood boardwalks, benches and play areas, but otherwise left the site open, green and natural. Sometimes letting nature be nature is the best way to promote a healthy planet. Reducing the footprint of man-made structures is what makes this project such a success.

15. Natural Ventilation

Architect and Photo by: Tommy Bahama

Cutting down your reliance on active heating and cooling systems are a great way to reduce your impact on energy consumption. This Tommy Bahama store build-out utilizes open windows on all sides of the retail space, allowing the cool air to freely flow through the interior. This gives shoppers and restaurant patrons a comfortable browsing experience without the use of massive, power-sucking air handlers. It’s the perfect touch for a store that embodies the open-air feel of an actual walk on the beach.

16. Wood Pool Decking

Architect: North on Sixty Photo by: Christopher Lawson

Surrounding your pool with the warm, natural look of a real wood deck is a no-brainer. You may be surprised to know it can actually be very simple to create a sustainable space as well! It all starts with the wood. In this case, Kebony was used as a sustainable alternative to tropical hardwood, which are being logged to extinction. Furthermore, a wood deck allows water to naturally drain through its slats versus concrete or plaster creates an impenetrable surface that can cause undesired runoff and erosion in heavy rain.

17. Passive Heating and Cooling

Architect: Simone Kreutzer, Tommy Wesslund Photo by: Anders Bergön

The Villa Circuitus is a certified passive house. It doesn’t rely on one or two sustainability techniques, but an entire army of them in order to build the most eco-friendly structure possible. From the Kebony sustainable wood siding and vertical stack ventilation, to strategic solar shading, this house does all it can to lower its carbon footprint and exist entirely off the grid. It’s circular floor plan is the most functionally efficient shape for usable space, giving the most amount of usability in the smallest possible footprint.