When most of us think of mushrooms, our first thought typically does not involve a sustainable building made from the fungi. Instead, our minds usually wander to a delicious meal we’ve enjoyed, such as grilled Portobello mushrooms or Chicken Marsala. However, mushrooms are now finding their way into green living as the living organism has made its debut as a building material—and a green one at that.

Across the country, individuals, corporations and organizations are focused on the idea of green living, or making an effort to opt for sustainable choices when it comes to one’s dwelling or corporate residence. In particular, green architecture has started to make its mark on the world of sustainability.  Numerous institutions and programs across the world are working to discover new ways to adopt green architecture. And thanks to the latest winner of The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA’s PS1’s Young Architects Program, the newest idea for the future of sustainable architecture may have been found.

Created by David Benjamin of New York architects The Living, the winning submission is a cylindrical mushroom tower made out of entirely organic material, which includes cornstalks and the root-like structures of mushrooms, known as mycelium. The mushroom tower isn’t built; rather the organic materials worked to grow the structure from the ground up.

The tower resembles a brick-like pattern, which is created from the mixture of cornstalk and mushroom root. After the mixture is left to harden for a few days, it turns into a sturdy foundation that emits no waste, carbon emissions or excess energy.  The whole process takes around five days and, in the end, the living organism mycelium essentially makes the bricks of the structure.

The top of the tower possesses a few rows of shiny blocks, which have a light-refracting film coating meant to direct light back into the tower, serving to draw cool air in at the structure’s bottom layers and pushing it out the top, creating, in essence, a “microclimate.”

The temporary tower is compostable, so when it is officially closed on Sept. 7, and later disassembled, the raw materials will be returned to local community gardens and tree planting. The tower takes green living at a whole new level—challenging the limits of traditional sustainability.

The commitment to green living is a purpose shared by many. One example of livable green architecture that has been sweeping the U.S. includes the “tiny houses” movement, where homeowners significantly cut down their carbon footprints by building and living in homes that are no larger than a few hundred square feet. The houses are not only extremely environmentally conscious, but they also promote green living and are easy to maintain financially. In fact, the phenomenon is spreading so quickly that back in April the first ever Tiny House Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, was held.

One woman living in a tiny house reported that her utilities only cost her $8 a month, less than the price of most restaurant meals these days. And many homeowners of these smaller homes have said that their new dwellings have greatly reduced a majority of the stress in their lives, liberating them from the things that usually caused them to feel the most trapped, such as finances and material objects.

Here at Viridian Energy, we are so excited to see where new innovations in green living will take us. Are you ready to hop aboard this green living movement?