Imagine your mornings differently. You roll out of bed, have a not so quick breakfast and take the stairs down to your office. Yes, the stairs! No cars, no trains, no rush hours… This is the lifestyle that Suzanne Steelman and Eric Laine envision with their LiveWork project design. It might sound like a story from the past but it is actually a vision for the sustainable future.
With their LiveWork project for a net zero carbon development in Athens, Georgia, USA, Suzanne Steelman and Eric Laine from the Clemson School of Architecture won the first prize of the Dow Solar Design to Zero competition. The aim is to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment and live in an environmentally friendly way, while enjoying a feeling of community at the same time. Like other examples of zero carbon developments, such as c_life in Helsinki, LiveWork stresses on the importance of behavioural change in order to truly bring about a sustainable way of living. The architects of the LiveWork project in Georgia define a net zero carbon building as “environmentally, socially and economically responsible”. Only by embodying these three characteristics can we achieve a truly sustainable design.
Creating A New Lifestyle
The major aspect of the development is the mix of living units and working spaces underneath them. The design provides a perfect opportunity to adopt a new lifestyle that will reduce one’s energy consumption and carbon footprint. For example, by living and working at the same place, emissions from daily travelling to and from work are eliminated. The LiveWork design is ideal for people who run a small business and prefer working from home. It is also practical for those who would rather lease the space to a retailer. The architects envision the work spaces to be put to different uses from a market to a gallery, or even a bike shop. This feature of the project makes living there economically viable as well. The LiveWork project can either inspire home owners to become more entrepreneurial by providing them with work space that they can develop or it can help already established small businesses operate in their local community.
Zero Carbon Standards
Governments across the world have been setting targets for reducing carbon emissions in order to tackle climate change. Some policies include reforming the building sector in such a way as to deliver only net zero carbon homes as part of the process of de-carbonising the economy. The LiveWork concept responds to such targets for energy efficiency by incorporating the three main activities of people: working, sleeping, and spending time at home. It is perfectly fit for an urban setting, where 80% of the US population currently lives. The project incorporates standard sustainable design features. The buildings allow for passive heating and cooling and maximise use of natural sunlight. Photovoltaic panels are designed to produce enough energy on site to meet the energy needs of the whole settlement and even produce extra electricity that can be supplied to the main grid. A water-collecting system will store rainwater so that it can be used in the buildings. Plenty of outdoor gathering space is provided and residents have the possibility to share electric vehicles.