See what green changes the construction industry is bringing to building materials and practices.
Construction technology is ever-changing, and Planet Earth is loving where the industry is going not just in Australia, but the world around. Over 50 per cent of construction firms are committing to incorporating more sustainability practices. The World Green Building Trends report also details the nearly endless benefits of green building. It’s no surprise that greater health and productivity topped the list of social reasons for companies going green in their construction.
So what can we expect in Australia for the coming year? Read on to see the construction trends that will help companies minimise their carbon footprint in 2015 and beyond.
Smart Glass? Not for Dummies
Windows don’t just provide you a nice view of the garden. During the summer they heat up your house when you’re trying to stay cool and slowly drain the heat during the months you’re trying to keep warm. Smart glass and low-emittance windows are changing that.
Green versions of windows are coated with metallic oxide to block the sun’s rays—and the heat—in the warm months of the year and to keep the heat inside during the colder months.
Electrochomic glass, which is not yet commercially available, uses a small amount of electricity to charge ions to control the amount of light it reflects. It works much like eyeglasses that tint when in bright light.
Water Efficiency Technology
Around 15 trillion gallons of water is used by buildings a year—almost 14 per cent of the world’s potable water. With fresh water shortages cropping up around the world, systems are being designed to lower water usage by as much as 15 per cent.
Eventually, net-zero water use in buildings is the goal: this includes water-conservation fixtures to efficiently manage water consumption, rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse to make use of recycled water, and on-site sewage treatment to remove contaminants from wastewater.
Heat Reflecting Roofs
The roof of a building controls a lot: it absorbs heat, warming the inside of the building, contributes to the “heat island effect” in urban areas and indirectly relates to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions a building contributes.
But special tiles and reflective paint are contributing to “cool roof” trends, allowing the roof to absorb less heat. This means a cooler building inside, a lessened “heat island effect”, and a decrease in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions via reduced energy consumption to keep the building cool.
From the Ground Up: Sustainable Construction Materials
Sustainable construction materials are not only a great value for the client, but also for the construction company. Biodegradable, recycled, and sustainable materials are being integrated into construction practices more regularly now, which is having a positive impact on already depleted natural resources—such as using reclaimed wood or recycled steel.
Biodegradable materials, like natural paints, help eliminate indoor pollution. The best part? These products decompose naturally, without an adverse impact on the soil.
Renewable Energy? Try Zero-Energy Buildings
In the same vein as net-zero water usage, zero-energy buildings aren’t as far away in the future as we think. These buildings will rely on solar or wind power—renewable energy—so they do not have to be connected to an electric grid.
This is one sustainable option of several that is more expensive upfront, as they require investments into solar cells and panels, wind turbines, and biofuels, but the long-term benefits are undeniable. For many companies, it’s not just about a cheaper option: it’s about best practice and corporate social responsibility.