Sustainable design features, such as smart technology, are increasingly popular in new builds; soon they will be expected by buyers
By Ameen Ayoub
Our clients are increasingly asking for sustainable design, and many have made the decision to install solar panels. Current codes require all new residential builds to install solar panels. We have installed solar panels and electric charging stations in many of our commercial office and multifamily residential projects, and have added landscaped roofs to existing roofs to help with heat gain and capturing water for reuse.
When it comes to current trends, one of the most popular includes automated mechanical electrical and plumbing systems, via a smart system like Savant or Lutron. This has given clients the ability to control the building systems remotely, and to run diagnostics to troubleshoot any problems that arise.
Clients are also asking for Biophilic design strategies including the more traditional items we see like solar panels and rainwater treatment systems, but now there are other items that are starting to trend. For instance, the natural exterior light conditions throughout the day are now being matched with lighting systems.
Additionally, there has been an increase in selecting development sites that allow future tenants to commute by bike or public transit.
With these progressive methods becoming more popular, we are bound to run into difficulties and struggles such as cost. As much as clients want the sustainable features, it is always a very large budget adjustment, which deters some of the really great sustainable strategies form being implemented.
Second to cost is addressing client education and awareness that may be fearful of utilizing sustainable systems in their projects.
Sustainable design and architecture are definitely on the rise but the industry is always affected by the marketplace and affordability of these methods. In California we see more sustainable design happening because the state has always set the standard for the country in this area and many other sectors.
In the coming years, we predict a sharp rise in buildings using automated smart systems that monitor and control. At all levels, smart systems that are Wi-Fi/Internet- connected are trending significantly. Clients expect to have, at bare minimum, systems that can be controlled remotely via an Internet connection. The affordability of some of the basic smart building systems, like the Nest home system, will usher in more awareness of what is available for the average consumer.
We are focusing on these elements in many of our projects, including a current home project that really exemplifies these sustainability efforts. We were contracted to design a residential update to an existing 1957 home with a new rooftop, master bedroom, and bathroom, and worked on re-conceptualizing the house and its interior and exterior.
The home will be equipped with a Crestron home automation system, which will control security systems, audio systems, lighting, thermostats, and more. With this system, the owner can optimize the interior environment of their home. Furthermore, solar panels will be utilized to help heat the pool and light some of the exterior hardscape areas.
Passive heating and cooling methods will also be implemented to help offset the active mechanical systems. Each room has at least one operable window or sliding glass door to allow for cross ventilation. Additionally, roof overhangs along the south and west facades were used to block summer sun while allowing sun in the winter to heat interior spaces through windows and glass walls.
Environmentally sustainable design was at the forefront of our priorities during the planning phase, as it is with many of our projects. These are all elements in design and architecture that we look forward to seeing more of. Not only do these efforts allow for a better and safer environment, but they also create phenomenal homes that stand out in their communities.