Sustainable Living Now: 6 Cutting-Edge Design Ideas for a Greener World Sustainability & LEED

A World of Wisdom

Faced with the daunting realities of climate change, thought leaders across design fields are reimagining the ways we live, work, travel, and build. So what are the sustainable strategies of tomorrow? Established and emerging voices agree: Small changes yield big results.

The School of “Less Is More”

Photo: José Hevia.

The Reggio School, a light-filled classroom, open to the outdoors, reveals the potential of lean construction.

Buildings are among the worst carbon offenders, accounting for some 40 percent of the world’s annual emissions due to their energy consumption and the embodied energy (that is, the footprint of producing and shipping materials). But what if we just simply pared back construction? At the Reggio School in Madrid, Spanish architect Andrés Jaque of Office for Political Innovation has demonstrated |the success of that “waste not, want not” approach. By eschewing cladding, drop ceilings, raised floors, wall linings, and other standard interior elements, the firm reduced materials by an estimated 48 percent—embracing the exposed mechanical systems and structural walls as visual elements while telegraphing the toll of building operations to young students. The structure’s stacked vertical form, meanwhile, deviates from the standard horizontality of educational architecture, limiting the impact of the foundations on the immediate terrain. Here, in other words, is a school that stays light on the land in every sense.

Factory of the Future

Photo: Einar Aslaksen.

Designed by BIG–Bjarke Ingels Group, Norway’s the plus features a circular central courtyard.

Bjarke Ingels has long championed what he calls hedonistic sustainability: the concept that architecture can both do good, from an environmental standpoint, and feel great for humans. “You can make the world cleaner and more fun at the same stroke,” notes the architect, founder of BIG–Bjarke Ingels Group. In Norway, the AD100 firm has now applied that philosophy to manufacturing, an all too often eco-indifferent realm of the built environment. The Plus, a new factory for the Norwegian furniture brand Vestre, was designed to release 50 percent less greenhouse gas than a comparable facility while achieving an ambitious BREEAM


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