According to Luini, the yacht industry is slightly behind on eco-friendly design and technology when compared to the field of land-based architecture. “Looking back on my studies in architecture in the mid-Nineties, I remember that one of the main issues then was building an eco-friendly house that was also aesthetically attractive. The ‘green’ technology available was often unwieldy and not designed to be good-looking or to be integrated seamlessly into architectural design.” Fast forward fifteen years and great advancements have been made in the realm of eco-technology. Solar panels are sleeker, rainwater-harvesting systems can be virtually invisible, roofs can become an insulating garden with green grass roof technology, recycled and sustainable material alternatives are readily available and unique-looking - the list goes on.
But Luini believes the yacht industry is still stuck in the Nineties. The difference is that the technology does exist in most cases; it’s just not being used as innovatively. Obviously, a yacht is very different proposition that needs to be able to withstand the demands of the unpredictable ocean environment and eco-friendliness is not usually a priority. However, Luini sees this as something that can be changed with the growing number of green products that are becoming available to the market and will be particularly helpful to the yacht industry. For example, the new sound insulation varnishes (previously used on US nuclear submarines) that save weight onboard but more importantly mean less waste at the end of a yacht’s life. Or the new paint pigments available that prevent surfaces (particularly dark surfaces) from getting too hot, which means less need for air-conditioning. Sustainable alternatives to teak decking are readily available and can look just as stylish, such as the stunning granite used for the deck on Big Fish. Of course, there is also the realm of solar power. Energy collected by solar technology can, for the moment, only help run certain less power-hungry hotel services, but technological advancements may mean that one day a superyacht could be run almost exclusively from solar power.
As with anything, where there is a demand, there will be a supply. The more interest there is in green superyachts and responsible building, the more pressure there will be to develop eco-technology for the industry. Liuni believes that from an early stage, all parties involved in the yacht design process should be talking about how to make it eco-friendly on as many levels as possible. “We should keep working step by step to achieve a final ‘green’ solution,” says Liuni, who is currently working with his team on a ‘green’ concept of his own.
Named ‘Less’, the design focuses not only on engine systems and optimal hull shape, but also on creating a vessel that emits less pollution and requires less maintenance. “We are aware that this is a only a starting point and that we can’t solve it all today,” says Liuni, but as he sees it, by designing green yachts they are making little steps towards an eco-friendly future in the same way that those inventing and investigating new technologies are making bigger ones. And every little bit helps.
Alessio Liuni Architects & Designers - company profile | company website
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