Green construction projects are on the rise due to the need to preserve the well-being of our environment. Construction companies are excited about this trend because there is an increase in demand, meaning more work for the company and higher payouts upon completion.
Green trends are now being used by companies everywhere, preserving not only the life cycle of that building but also our earth. Green trends use efficient resources and environmentally responsible processes during construction ensuring a lifetime of sustainability.
Here are 5 green construction examples for 2021.
1. Natural Building Materials
Natural building materials are not new within the industry. However, many more projects are now focused on using sustainable building materials as much as possible. As interest has grown, so has research into these materials, their uses and new ways to go green. Some of the up and coming sustainable and natural building materials in 2021 include wood and hempcrete.
Wood for construction reduces environmental impact, requires less energy when designing, constructing and operating and minimizing energy bills. Hempcrete is a concrete alternative that acts as an insulator and is ideal for most climates. Hempcrete is durable allowing for use in many construction processes, even better it is long-lasting and requires fewer repairs.
2. EDGE Certification
EDGE stands for Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies. The goal behind this type of construction certification is to reduce the impact the environment faces from traditional construction work. It encourages buildings to comply with guidelines around energy use.
To become EDGE certified a building must limit its water heating, heating and cooling as well as energy produced from building materials. An example of this would be the ProCredit Bank Bulgaria Head Office. This building is the first of its kind as it produces zero carbon, saves 40% of energy and offsets 100% of operational energy emissions.
EDGE Certification is typically associated with commercial buildings that focus on creating areas that provide natural light through the use of solar solutions, low-energy lighting or superior glass to provide the lighting that is needed.
Another focus for this certification revolves around heating and cooling a building. It encourages alternative methods other than air conditioning to cool the building down. Low energy ceiling fans or proper HVAC that limit the amount of energy consumed or green roofs are great alternatives. Both alternative lighting and air conditioning matter when it comes to green buildings because they are two of the largest consumers of energy. Being more energy-efficient and creative in reducing this energy not only makes buildings unique but save owners money in the long run.
There are three levels of certification: EDGE Certified, EDGE Advanced, and Zero Carbon. These levels allow for buildings to increase their energy efficiency, better their water conservation, and reduce carbon emissions at different stages. It also gives buildings a top level to work towards while still recognizing the little wins that buildings work hard to implement.
3. Net-Zero Buildings
Net-Zero Buildings are long-term projects that focus both on producing energy that can balance out the energy they consume. That being said, many building owners are interested in these projects because it is a major money saver in the long run. Because of this interest, contractors are working on these projects more and more.
Net-Zero Buildings are structures that demonstrate renewable energy sources within a building. These buildings produce as much energy as they consume throughout the year through research, new technology and appropriate resources. The result is astounding building designs that house energy systems that meet reduced energy needs and are built produce their own energy.
Net-Zero buildings are still hard to find as it is a relatively new idea within the construction world. However the U.S. Courthouse in Grand Junction in Colorado is one example. In fact, this building was the first Net-Zero building in the United States. This building was retrofitted with sustainable technologies like geothermal heating and solar panels that can cover all types of energy that is needed.
Residential buildings are more common as Net-Zero structures because many homeowners are already adding solar panels, wind turbines and using natural resources on their land to produce the energy they need. An example is the Charlotte Vermont House in Charlotte, Vermont. No fossil fuels are burned to power the house because the sun and wind are used to produce energy.
4. Using Green Materials to Achieve LEED Certification
LEED Certification is still relevant in 2021 when many companies are trying to create green buildings. Energy Square in Kingston, N.Y. is an affordable housing project that not only provides housing to the community but does so in a green way. It is also the first Net-Zero building in upstate New York. Energy is provided through solar power and heating and cooling are done through a geothermal system.
Building with green materials reduces waste from construction and reduces the amount that ends up in landfills. Materials like wood and bamboo can be farmed sustainably and, in the case of bamboo, grow so quickly that they are much more green than traditional materials.
LEED Certification encourages the use of green materials, supporting a building environment that uses less energy and water, supports recycling materials to produce less waste and reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated during the construction phase of a project.
5. Green Building Standards
Green building standards are design strategies that are applied to a range of projects like schools, retail stores and even stadiums. These standards are guidelines that relate to building practices created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
All buildings that are hoping to be environmentally sustainable must meet a minimum requirement for site, design and construction operations. This includes outlining all the ways that the building will use energy, water and quality of life.
Green building codes are continuing to be developed that force contractors to make the building sustainable and still perform well. There are a set of requirements that must be met which make building green the main focus of the project. This may ask about what materials are being used, alternative methods of construction, or recommendations to the design to make it more energy efficient.
If all steps are followed then a green product certification can be granted by the USGBC and this confirms that the project will not negatively affect the environment and also meets the proper standards for use. This green certificate is well respected as it shows that the construction company was able to comply with the rules and regulations and create an eco-friendly building.
An example of a green building in the United States is the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington. Although this building is only 6 stories high it does not use any energy from non-renewable sources as it uses 100% of its energy from the 575 solar panels located on the building. This green project sets a standard for other contractors to model their projects after as it creates more energy than it consumes yearly, recycles water into the ground, and composts its own waste. The Bullitt Center has been designed to last over 250 years due to its environmentally friendly resources that were used during construction.
Green Construction in 2021
Green construction exemplifies the importance of taking care of our environment. These 5 examples indicate that the construction industry is slowly making changes towards sustainable construction practices better for our planet.