What is eco-friendly architecture

Environmentally friendly architecture through creativity

In the course of the past few years, the choice of building materials and technologies has changed continuously due to higher demands with regard to climate protection. The consumption of non-renewable energies is to be further restricted, as is the use of harmful materials. The architecture and thus the real estate should be environmentally friendly and at the same time very energy efficient. Creativity, knowledge and the associated implementation will be more in demand than ever in the future.

High requirements force a rethink in the real estate industry

Awareness of the environment and its health is increasingly heightened in society. The demand for environmentally conscious buildings is increasing, as is the demand for energy-efficient systems and devices that can also be used to protect the environment. In the case of real estate, this usually means energy-efficient thermal insulation and systems for the responsible use of water. The government is also exerting increasing influence on the energy standard of a property. Since May 2014, it has been mandatory for real estate advertisements (rent and purchase) to show energy parameters, e.g. about the needs or consumption of the building. The energy pass must be presented to interested parties at the latest at the viewing appointment. In the course of this, the designation of energy efficiency classes for the buildings was also introduced.

The new compulsory disclosure of energy parameters for real estate ensures that prospective buyers deal more closely with the energy level of the property. It also helps with the comparability of different buildings and when deciding which systems to use in new buildings.

A new house made of "junk"

All around the world, architects and builders think about how they can meet the ever-increasing standards for protecting the environment. Recycling is a topic that is already being successfully implemented in many other areas of life. Architects have now discovered the possibilities of old shipping containers. They have recently been used to design new homes, offices and sales rooms in a creative and environmentally friendly way.

A shipping container usually has the dimensions of 2.44 mx 2.59 mx 6.06 m - a steel box for transporting goods of all kinds around the world. Their great advantage for the construction of real estate is their international availability as well as their robust and at the same time stackable construction. Every year a large number of containers are taken out of service, so that now millions of old shipping containers are hoarded in special places and are just waiting to be used again. A container usually has a lifespan of approx. 25 years.

Container constructions are often known as a temporary solution for large construction sites or as a police operations center. They are dreary, but usually specially insulated for residential use. The simple shipping containers are now used by architects in a variety of ways. Their versatility is shown in student accommodation, penthouses, saunas or holiday homes. Hotels and simple houses are also being built from the "scrap".

Despite the recycling of actual “scrap” and the relatively low construction costs (brewed containers cost around 800 euros, new ones cost 2,000 euros), there are some disadvantages. Due to the standardized sizes, the spaces are very narrow. Especially when the walls are to be insulated in a contemporary way. Cellular reception can only be used to a very limited extent within the container. By stacking the building blocks on top of each other, double walls are created, which can prevent high energy efficiency. In addition, passive houses made from shipping containers are not yet possible.

Companies show how it is done

Companies are also embracing the trend for more environmental awareness and supporting architects in their plans to use old shipping containers sensibly. "Puma City" had a mobile sales area made up of 24 freight containers developed. The sporting goods manufacturer tours the country with it and dismantles and rebuilds the rooms every time. In order to make larger rooms possible, some interior parts have been removed that can be reinserted during transport.

The Freitag Tower, built from containers, is in Zurich. This has already received the German Design Prize and is a fitting shop for bags made from truck tarpaulins. Annual controls ensure the safety of customers and employees.

The concept of creating handsome living space from old shipping containers is still in its infancy. In some areas, there is still a need to increase energy efficiency, as well as a possible combination with passive houses. Furthermore, there is no actual recycling, which the containers end up at the scrap yard at the end of their service life.

Author: Tanja Manz

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