A carbon neutral building is achieved when the amount of CO2 emissions is balanced by climate-positive initiatives so that the net carbon footprint over time is zero. Considering their unmatched ability to absorb CO2, planting trees is often viewed as the best carbon offsetting solution. But as cities become denser and the amount of available horizontal space for green areas drastically reduces, architects have been forced to explore other approaches. Therefore, to address these climatic challenges and connect people to nature, exterior green walls have become a rising trend in increasingly vertical cities. Even if there is research to claim that these can positively impact the environment, many question if they can actually contribute to a carbon neutral architecture. Although the answer may be quite complex, there seems to be a consensus: green walls can be effective, but only through good design.
The winners of Re-Thinking the Future’s 2014 design competition - a competition that asked architects, designers, planners, and students from all over the world to submit “radical solutions for the present day problems” of climate change - have been announced. Requesting both built and conceptual works, the jury of 20 architects from firms such as SOM, AEDAS, and Perkins+Will evaluated the projects across a range of categories, from mixed-use and residential buildings to urban and landscape design.