For me 2009 was the year that sustainable design and architecture became simply design and architecture. Sustainable materials and techniques are plentiful, so much so there is now very little that a designer and/or architect cannot create sustainably, given the opportunity to do so.
On that subject, looking forward, here's what I recently wrote for
Inhabitat's Green Design Predictions for 2010.
Now that materials and techniques are no longer a barrier to creativity, the opportunity is to do more. To illustrate, here are four products and a home from 2009 that in my opinion not only defied "the green look" but, in most instances,
took design and architecture to an entirely new and desirable level:
This house is LEED Platinum certified. Nothing inside or outside of this modernist home's appearance gives away its sustainable construction and operation. What you don't see; 500-gallon rainwater harvest cisterns, butterfly roof designed to collect rainwater, locally-sourced 100% recycled steel framing roof, water-based insulation materials, reclaimed heart-pine flooring, energy recovery ventilator (for tight homes), low solar heat gain coefficient windows, LED lighting system, geothermal heat pump, 3.1 kW rooftop photovoltaic system and deciduous plantings to provide efficiency benefits.
Rethinking how we live, not just single family homes vs multi-family, but
sustainable communities, is next.
Appliances also go green, literally. The Andrea is a "green lung" with a living plant on the inside providing the primary mechanism to purify indoor air.
More sustainable appliances are in the works at Electrolux.
The swimming pool above is a pool conversion to a natural swimming pool, a completely natural alternative to chemical pools/ozone or salt pools. Now 100% chlorine-free, this pool harnesses nature's processes with microorganisms and plants balancing the water chemistry and maintaining clean, clear and hygienic conditions for natural swimming.
Next step, applying the same techniques to community pools.
OVOPUR water purifying system maker Aquaovo is creating new forms and new technologies for old problems. Example, besides the novel look of the dispenser, their AQUACRISTAL filtration system (seen here inside the glass enclosure) is a reusable, multilayer filter cartridge whose contents are 100% recyclable. The filter cartridge uses a combination of KDF 55, activated carbon, microporous bioceramics and quartz crystal to remove impurities from water.
Water will likely be to the 2010's what oil was to the last decade. Have a listen to the excellent radio documentary series Watershed on cbc.ca.
This was originally posted in 2007, but 2009 was the year that the Volt grabbed
the headlines and became a commercial reality with expected delivery in 2010. Although probably not entirely sustainably built, it's a step in the right direction and opens up a world of new opportunities for rethinking not just cars, but how we move ourselves, literally and figuratively.