Floating into the future

Fri, 03/21/2014 - 14:24

In a time of constant news and warnings about climate change, the world is often reminded about the potential dangers of a rising global sea level. According to National Geographic, the planet's oceans have been rising at an accelerated rate in the last two decades when compared to the past century. Now, more than ever people are learning the true value and benefit that having an eco-friendly house can have on them and Earth as a whole. Innovations are made every year that puts humanity within reach of creating fully sustainable structures to inhabit, but the only question is, will it be too late? Some researchers and designers have already begun looking for ways to adapt to a world where the oceans might creep up all our coastlines.
The self-reliant houseboatInstead of figuring out ways to protect homes from the rising tides, some people are opting for making the water their new address. Houseboats not only can be extremely self-sufficient, but they would only rise with the water instead of succumbing to it. These homes are already commonplace, in some places more than others, but there are opportunities available to make them completely independent buildings all on their own.
The Autarkhome in the Netherlands is 10 times more energy efficient than other buildings of the same size, according to Jetson Green. With no connections needed to the mainland, the floating home is powered by solar panels and processes water with its own treatment facility. Insulation reduces seepage of heat and a heat recovery ventilation system further reduces costs while also better controlling the overall climate of the house.
Larger projects are underway that take the sustainable efforts even further. A three-story multiple-family home made for the water is currently under construction in London, as reported by Inhabitat. This complex will include radiant heating throughout to drastically increase the energy effectiveness in the homes. This floor heating makes use of the water around it by warming it in a much more efficient manner than convection where it just transfers the heat from surface to surface. This not only reduces the heat needed, but also lowers the cost.
This home, designed by Sanitov Studios, is made up of a large portion of recycled materials. It also implements vegetation in its design with a living green roof and wall. Solar panels provide energy from the roof, rainwater is used as natural irrigation for the plant life and large skylights reduce the need for electric lighting during the day.
There is still much room for improvement since the structure is not completely sustainable. Some of the current technology would not have been powerful enough to service multiple families without worry of potential problems or breakdowns. Though progress has been quick in environmental technologies, there's still much work that needs to be done.
Floating cities of the futureIf the waves do wash over our coastal lands, some people have already begun the process of designing floating villages and cities. These massive vessels would be completely self-reliant, extremely eco-friendly and can even be independent of governments on land, according to The Guardian. The idea has been envisioned for many years, long before global warming became a focus in the world, though only now are people starting to take it seriously enough to consider.
It may seem to be something straight out of science fiction, but some companies have already begun building these super structures at massive costs able to house thousands, as is the case with the Freedom Ship. The idea may not be as far-fetched as it seems when considering the similarities these floating cities would have with oil rigs already dotting the seascape. No matter how far off a rising sea level is, floating homes will be occupying the water's surface soon.