In the past decade or so, partially due to the increase of the public’s awareness of the benefits of a life lived conscientiously, Green Architecture and Building have slowly but surely become increasingly embraced. Unlike bell bottom pants, pump sneakers or mullets, Green Construction proves to be a beneficial trend to the likes of mankind; increasing sustainability, decreasing pollution and keeping people and animals both healthier, and therefore happier.

Well, I guess something could be said for the happiness inspired by the mental image of a person sporting bell bottoms, pump sneakers and a mullet simultaneously… but I digress.

Sustainable living is often said to start at home. For some people, sadly, they do not have a home with which to start. Among one of the most inspiring sections of Green Building is the creation of sustainable housing options for those without homes to call their own.

Homelessness afflicts men, women, and children throughout the world, with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimates on any night, in the U.S alone, there is anywhere between 700,000 and two million people without proper shelter.

Unfortunately there isn’t much being done to help those less fortunate in the Green sector. However, there are some altogether inspirational efforts in the United States to incorporate humanitarian efforts for the homeless with the environmentally beneficial likes of Green Building, such as:

Bridge Homeless Shelter

Bridge Homeless Shelter

* In 2008 Crossroads, a 125 bed shelter, was opened in Oakland, California. Its green amenities include the use of non-toxic paint, hydronic heating, furniture made from pressed wheat, and a solar-paneled roof.

*Bridge, a Dallas area shelter, which boasts helping decrease crime in its surrounding area by as much as 18 percent, also should not feel too shabby about its use of recycling of grey water, utilization of large windows, radiant heating, and uses FSC certifiable wood and some recycled steel in the construction of its grounds.  You go Bridge, get down with your bad self!

*Zo-loft, an architecture and design studio, has invented a sustainable, portable shelter for the homeless. Its creative design allows the user to roll around this shelter on an aluminum wheel, roughly the size of a shopping cart, that contains two expandable tents made completely out of recycled materials that can hold up to 250 lbs of belongings when erected.

Zo-Loft Portable Homeless Shelter

Zo-Loft Portable Homeless Shelter

Green solutions to the dangers that plague the homeless are not just incredibly beneficial to Mother Earth, they also are of immeasurable value to the homeless that they help. Many of the United States homeless population are HIV positive or suffer from respiratory ailments such as asthma, an environment free of toxins keeps illness associated to these illnesses at bay. Depression, another frequent affliction of the homeless, can be helped by exposure to serene spaces with adequate sunlight. Furthermore, the knowledge that the shelter that they frequenting, or the the independence they are offered by having a shelter to carry with them and use on their own terms, can be a source of insurmountable pride to a person without a home.

Green solutions benefit mankind, whether that man or woman has a permanent residence or not. These innovations in shelters and portable homes are inspiration that even those less fortunate can benefit from restructuring our society to be environmentally sound. We are in this together…even those among us who refuse to retire their aging pump sneakers.