By Leo Cannyn, PMP, P.E., ENV SP

Principal Project Manager

Beryl Engineering & Inspection

Building design is evolving and adapting to new needs and trends as we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible. Whether it is through the use of new materials, innovative solutions that make everyday tasks easier, or incorporating wellness into our lives, we want our work and living spaces to keep up.

It makes no difference if you are building new or just creating a wish list to eventually update your space. Understanding building design trends can help you keep things fresh and current.

Here are five trends we see this year, with a focus on environmentally-conscience design:

Renewable Energy 

Experts agree that we must do more to transition to a clean energy economy. Cities across Florida have committed to getting 100 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2050. Currently, only 3.5 percent of electricity produced in Florida comes from renewable sources. To move toward a more environmentally-conscious world, building and design experts are looking to eliminate energy waste and find new opportunities to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Building owners are taking positive steps to accelerate the use of renewable energy by requesting rooftop solar panels and advanced designs and construction techniques to reduce heating, cooling, and lighting energy consumption 

Bringing Nature Inside 

Bringing nature inside, known as biophilic design, has been a trend in recent years. This popular design philosophy drives the urge to be close to nature and its benefits. Spending time in nature, listening to the sound of a stream, or being in the midst of the forest with natural light all around helps us feel mentally restored. Establishing natural elements indoors benefits us in a similar way. New dynamic natural environments have been popping up in new home builds and office redesigns. Popular design elements include natural floors, reclaimed materials to add texture and interest to a space, and plants are some of the easiest ways to bring nature indoors.  

Connectivity and Smart Devices 

Software-as-a-Service and cloud applications are driving changes in smart buildings. Additionally, increased bandwidth requirements and sophisticated management systems means data growth as more devices are integrated with other devices, optimizing function and efficiency. Smart buildings include various electronics, sensors, and controllers that run air conditioning systems, lighting, security, and more. The growing demand for the latest smart technology is creating a need to update IT infrastructure to stay ahead of the curve.  

Sustainable Materials 

Today’s sustainable or green materials are accessed more readily and have the additional benefit of being budget-friendly. According to Sustainable Living Association, there are three top environmentally-friendly building materials. Bamboo, recycled steel, and sheep’s wool. Bendable concrete, also known as Engineered Cementitous Composite (ECC), is unlike traditional concrete which can crack and break. ECC is stronger and is more effective at absorbing shock. Mass timber, created by mechanically bonding various types of softwood, has gained popularity due to its lower carbon footprint, significantly reducing emissions.  

Personality-Fit Designs 

We are seeing a trend to add personality to a design, especially after spending so much time at home over the last several years. People are moving closer to designing spaces to fit their personalities. It’s essential to build and design a space that reflects your passions. Some builds have started with a specific theme, such as industrial, eclectic, or urban. Additionally, bold colors have been integrated to create a specific vibe. 

When thinking about your vision for a new building or space, the end result should fit your or your organization’s values and needs. Every step should be carefully considered, from sustainable materials, to workplace efficiency and smart technologies.