Going green isn't just a buzzword anymore. For many industries, it's turning into a way of life. One industry that has been slow to adopt green trends until now is construction. New green building trends are changing the way the industry looks at everything from building materials to job site waste. Here's how green building trends are impacting the construction industry and how companies can hope to adopt them as their own.
Popular Green Building Trends
The green movement is changing the construction industry for the better. Some popular green building trends include:
- Zero-net buildings: This is a broad term for any building that is designed to use no power from the grid, or generates more power than it consumes. They are currently expensive to set up, but the trend is becoming more popular every year.
- Sustainable building materials: We all know skyscrapers and other large buildings need massive amounts of steel to sustain their enormous structure. Steel, though, is a finite resource that will run out. Processing new steel also releases a large number of greenhouse gases, which contributes to climate change. Using things like recycled steel and lumber, as well as other energy efficient green building materials, can help reduce the industry's overall carbon footprint.
- Water conservation: Many new buildings are being designed to reduce their overall water usage by reclaiming gray water and capturing rain for things like landscaping and even cooling systems. The water doesn't lose all its use simply because it's no longer potable.
- Prefabrication and modular construction: Traditionally, new buildings are built from the ground up one piece at a time. Modular construction and prefabrication techniques are removing some of that necessity by crafting the components for a building or construction project in a factory. These pieces are then moved into place with the help of special lifts and assembled other industrial tools and equipment. This process positively impacts the carbon footprint by lowering the number of days needed to assemble a building and, as a result, reducing the operating hours of heavy or fossil fuel-powered equipment.
- Solar power: Current energy generation techniques rely heavily on the burning of fossil fuels. Many new buildings are starting to step away from this reliance on fossil fuels by transitioning to solar. Even old buildings can benefit from having solar panels installed to offset the building's energy usage.
This is just a small sample of the green building techniques that are gaining momentum in the construction industry. What can construction companies do to adopt these new techniques and materials?
Adopting Green Building Techniques
Start by staying abreast of new innovations within your industry. Technology is changing construction nearly faster than we can keep up, so it's important to stay on top of these changes so they can be adopted into your standard operating procedure.
Find a niche. You might not have a crew that's trained to install solar panels, but that isn't your only option. Use what you have and find a niche where you can thrive. If you want to adopt new technologies or techniques, consider offering continuing education opportunities for your crew.
Remember that green building doesn't just include creating new structures from the ground up — it also means improving your demolition techniques to reduce the environmental impact of the process. Some cities now require construction companies to prove that more than 50 percent of their waste was recycled. While this isn't widespread yet, it is a good rule of thumb to try to reclaim or recycle as much as possible from demolition jobs.
More and more homebuyers are looking for green buildings, so keep that in mind when choosing your construction components. Low-energy windows, tankless water heaters, and natural or nontoxic insulation are all things savvy eco-friendly buyers are on the lookout for.
Green building and construction isn't going away, and it's up to the industry to change with the times. Ensure your company isn't getting left in the dust by staying on top of new changes as they hit the industry and changing the way you think of everything — from construction to demolition and everything in between.
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