Sustainable Building Technologies
In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million ... September 2016 was also the warmest on record.
With global warming posing a serious threat, green building is becoming a critical part of today’s world. New construction is advancing to keep up with the increasing shift to sustainability. From maximizing the use of renewable resources to minimizing carbon footprint, the following construction technologies can be implemented whether in constructing a new sustainable building or greening existing infrastructure.
1. Sustainable Materials
Integrating biodegradable, recycled and sustainable materials makes a significant difference. Biodegradable materials such as natural paints, which are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) typically found in their traditional counterparts, eliminate indoor pollution and decompose naturally without contaminating the planet. Green construction materials are great alternatives to prevent exhausting already depleted natural resources. For instance, steel beams that are constructed from recycled metal eliminate the need to mine for more iron ore.
2. Cross Venting
In some cases by just altering a building’s design one can save on energy use while taking advantage of on-site light and air. In the Philippines, an evolving trend for buildings and condos in cities and business districts is Lumiventt.
Taken from the words “lumen” meaning light and “ventus” meaning wind, this green architecture design allows the free flow of natural light and air into high-rise condos. Lumiventt Technology incorporates three story high garden atriums every five floors and vents at both ends of the building, incorporating the basic principles of airflow into a breathable building design.
3. Zero Energy Buildings
Zero energy buildings are specially designed and engineered to run on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, allowing them to operate electric grid independent. This design not only saves energy but also prevents additional greenhouse gas emissions.
A zero energy design utilizes solar panels, wind turbines, and biofuels to provide for the building’s electricity and HVAC. While zero energy buildings are more expensive upfront, the long-term benefits of energy savings and sustainable business practices compel companies to consider it a sound investment.
4. Water Reuse
With buildings using 14% of the world’s potable water, roughly 15 trillion gallons per year, systems designed for water efficiency are targeted to lower water usage by 15%. Fresh water shortages call for awareness and actions in the face of a water crisis.
Just like zero energy buildings, actions can be taken to achieve net zero water use in buildings. Such actions include water conservation fixtures to efficiently manage water consumption, rainwater harvesting, grey water reuse to make use of recycled water, and on-site sewage treatment to remove contaminants from wastewater.
5. Stormwater Management
Stormwater management mitigates erosions in rural areas and floods in urban locations brought by sudden downfalls of rain or snow. There are many stormwater management practices, one of these is using plants through green infrastructure. Plants help absorb water and purify it in the process as storm water passes through.
6. Smart Glass
A green version of windows are low-emittance windows coated with metallic oxide to block the sun’s UV rays during summer and keep the heat inside in the winter. More than serving the conventional function of windows, low-emittance windows significantly lower HVAC costs.
A more advanced version of this is smart glass, also known as electrochromic glass. Using a small amount of electricity, the smart glass charges ions to control the amount of light it reflects. In effect the glass darkens during the sun’s peak hours and returns to transparent at night.
7. Cool Roofs
In the same vein as smart glass, cool roofs reflect sunlight and heat. Made of special tiles and reflective paint, cool roofs have high levels of solar reflectance and thermal emittance, which work together to absorb less heat.
This keeps the buildings beneath cooler, thereby lowering energy use and bringing comfort to occupants. On the collective level, cool roofs help reduce the heat island effect in urban areas and due to the reduced energy consumption they decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
While some green construction technologies cost more upfront, companies harvest the benefits in the long run. Sustainable construction is constantly being developed for wide-scale and more affordable implementation, with the increasing demand for green buildings driving the optimistic outlook for a future of green building.