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The Path to Net Zero

Energy saving solutions for the eco house and sustainable office.

Our offices and homes will come under increased scrutiny as the world races to net zero. To grapple with this complex issue, we commissioned global innovation intelligence platform Springwise to produce a research paper, The Future of the Sustainable Home and Office, which is full of the latest ideas to support a low-carbon future powered by clean energy and energy efficiency. 

Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. To prevent the worst effects of climate change, global net human-caused emissions of CO2 need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 – reaching net zero by around 2050.

Our modern lifestyle requires us to consume energy one way or another whilst at home or at work. That’s why the challenge is to find ways to live our lives more efficiently in spaces that are equally as efficient.

Designing net zero buildings

In the near future, all homes and offices will need to have a net-zero rating, and innovators around the world are busy creating spaces that automatically manage energy efficiency, without the need for (or despite) human usage.

As our research paper reports, an architecture studio in the UK has released an open-source digital tool called FCBS Carbon that provides a framework for designing more efficient buildings by estimating the whole-life carbon emissions of a planned building. In Sweden, Malmö-based company Innenco has created a new energy concept that uses active elements systems, heat pumps, chillers, and solar panels to reduce the energy used by any building.

In countries with hotter climates, cooling buildings without the use of energy hungry air-conditioning systems is a priority. In the US, Gensler has created a passive ventilation system that creates a ‘double skin’ around a building, using fresh air to regulate its temperature. In Australia, CplusC Architectural Workshop has incorporated steel planter beds on the roof of a house which provide natural cooling, and UCLA in Los Angeles, USA, has developed a white paint that can reflect as much as 98 percent of incoming heat from the sun.

Innovations that generate clean energy

Whilst reducing wasted energy is of course key to reaching net zero goals, we also need to leverage the latest innovations that actually create and harness the energy we consume and even give back to the grid.

The Garden House in a Melbourne suburb, which is featured in our report, uses solar panels to do just that, providing enough power not only for the house’s climate-controlled heating, a digital entertainment system, and a heated swimming pool, but also to charge an electric car and feed the local power grid.

Two other new inventions we found even harness the energy we use when walking and cycling to generate clean energy – a wooden flooring system from Switzerland that powers lights from footsteps, and a communal bike rack in Amsterdam that stores kinetic energy from the front wheels of bicycles in batteries which is then discharged into the city’s grid.

Discussing net zero goals in design and architecture

Watch a panel discussion on this topic sponsored by Aritco at 12 noon on Wednesday 9th February which will be broadcast online as part of Stockholm Design Week. The talk will be hosted by Swedish TV presenter Li Pamp, and the three panelists will be David Schill, Marketing Director of Aritco Lift; Håkan Nordin, Head of Sustainability at Swedish vinyl flooring company BOLON; and Thomas Sandell, one of the most prominent architects in Sweden today.

If you miss the broadcast, it will be posted on this website shortly afterwards.



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