Architects, designers, and developers are facing a considerable amount of public, economic, and regulatory pressure to construct environmentally sustainable and high-performance buildings.
However, it’s not just a case of bowing to public or environmental pressure. Owners are finding that there are many economic advantages in green building ownership, including an impressive average eight-year ROI for green investments.
Green buildings also offer the following advantages:
- Minimized construction resources
- Waste reduction
- Decreased operational costs (from energy efficiency & improved occupant health)
- They attract tenants and reduce churn
- Improves property value and overall ROI
As a result, the green building construction industry has grown rapidly, with 2.2 million square feet being added daily and with a market size estimated to be worth $81 billion. Since green building construction requires specialized green building technology and techniques, builders are having to adapt to new building methods.
Trends & New Approaches to Green Building
What exactly is a green building? According to the World Green Building Council:
“A ‘green’ building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life.”
In practical terms, these types of buildings need to demonstrate:
- Efficient water, energy, and resource use
- Use of renewable energy sources where possible
- Provide good indoor air quality
- Incorporate consideration of the environment in design, construction, and operation
To ensure that buildings comply with green standards such as LEED and WELL, the industry has to follow sustainable building practice and construction management processes. Failing to follow these standards during the construction phase can prevent future green certification.
Because the industry is evolving so rapidly, green construction pioneers are constantly introducing innovative approaches and using new technology to reduce the environmental impact of their projects.
These approaches typically include making a shift toward new types of pre-fabricated building materials, as well as employing machine learning tools to maximize project efficiency.
Some of these green building trends include:
Biodegradable Building Materials
Construction projects produce enormous amounts of waste. Existing on-site structures must be demolished and the soil excavated, resulting in the disposal of unimaginable volumes of waste materials.
These waste materials are either sent to landfills or repurposed into other industrial chemicals and products. Over time, contaminants can leach out into the soil or be released into the atmosphere, adversely affecting the environment on a massive scale.
Reducing the type and volume of waste is a key focus of green construction. In place of these single-use building materials that can harm the environment, builders are shifting towards the use of naturally biodegradable products that will eventually degrade harmlessly, without releasing dangerous compounds into the environment or take up space in landfills.
For example, builders have started using biodegradable fibreglass and plastics in place of the older and environmentally-unsound versions, while the use of rammed earth instead of concrete is gaining traction where the process warrants.
Building Information Modelling (BIM)
As machine learning tools continue to become more capable, more builders are turning towards Building Information Modelling (BIM) to simulate the project. BIM allows builders to create a complex computer model of the build process, helping them to maximize the use of environmentally-friendly materials.
BIM can streamline workflows, optimize planning and scheduling, and identify efficient construction processes that reduce environmental footprints.
Pre-Fabricated & Modular Construction
Finally, green builders are transitioning away from on-site material assembly toward pre-fabricated and modular products. Moving the materials production process off-site has several environmental advantages.
Installing pre-fabricated modules is typically less invasive and damaging to the local environment. Since most of the assembly and preparation work is done at the production facility, construction can proceed more efficiently without disturbing the area as much.
Also, manufacturing these materials off-site at environmentally-friendly facilities reduces the overall carbon footprint of each building material used in the project, which can quickly add up to a significantly improved carbon value for the finished project.
Reducing the impact and carbon footprint of construction projects is a key goal of the green building movement. To reach that objective, builders are developing new and innovative approaches and technologies that will ensure future developments don’t come at the expense of a damaged environment.
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