Smart trends in Green buildings: Transformation towards sustainability (Part 3)

The last in the Green Buildings series, this article updates you on lesser known clean resources, and the latest happenings in this green and sustainable revolution.

To make buildings environmentally sustainable, some key factors such as clean and efficient renewable energy sources (solar panels, windmills and geothermal energy), options such as rainwater harvesting and waste management, low carbon technologies, reusing and recycling of building materials, earthquakes and fire resilient structures, smart electricity grids, and environment friendly options of rail and road transportation are naturally taken into consideration.

Other materials that can be used are:

1. Wool bricks: As the name suggests, wool and a natural polymer (found in seaweed) is added to the brick clay which makes the newer brick 37% stronger than regular ones. These are also more resistant to the cold wet climate especially in UK. The bricks dry hard and needn’t be fired.

2. Solar tiles: These tiles are integrated to the building rooftop thereby generating power and providing protection from the weather.

3. Sustainable concrete: A major contributor to CO2 emissions, concrete is the base for all buildings. To make it sustainable, crushed glass, wood chips, slag etc. can be mixed (with it) which can contribute towards recycling of other waste materials subsequently reducing CO2 emissions.

4. Paper insulation: Instead of chemical foams, newspapers and cardboard boxes are recycled to make paper based insulation that can be used for filling cavities in walls.

5. Triple glazed windows: An insulator known as krypton is used for these windows. Also, the three layers prevent the heat from escaping as low emissivity coatings are used.

Certain criteria are set to evaluate if a product is green. Factors include the resource being highly energy efficient, if the product is made of recycled material, the importance of lifecycle data, the building materials’ durability and non-toxic capacity, the industry performance data, and certification by a third party along with environmental product declaration (highest in Singapore and Brazil).

By 2020, the use of green building products globally is also expected to rise in electricity (63%), thermal and moisture protection (62%) which is currently used the maximum in US and Mexico; building automation systems (59%) currently used the maximum in Singapore; finishes (51%); waste management (56%) which is highest in Singapore; mechanical systems such as heating and air conditioning (53%) used especially in US and UK; flooring (48%); and furnishings (38%).

Talking about the latest business trends, a survey was conducted on green buildings. The data collected from the highest number of respondents (in %) on various parameters demonstrated that particularly in US, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, the operating costs (e.g. energy costs) of green buildings turned out to be much lower than conventional ones. Again, factors such as occupant education on sustainability, documentation/certification providing quality assurance, higher value at point of sale seemed to be riding high in countries such as Brazil, China, Mexico and Singapore. Developed green building markets of US, UK and Germany markets, fared low on the above mentioned parameters. Also, future proofing assets was the highest in China followed by UK. Flexibility of design that is built in green buildings was found most in South Africa, Singapore and China followed by Brazil and India. Increased productivity for tenants lay in Brazil and India; high rental rates were found to be present in Germany and Poland; while higher occupancy rates were found in China and Singapore.

Green Share: The % in green share of building project activity vs. non green share:

green-buildings-3

Source:  www.fidic.org

The future: NET ZERO building:

Used interchangeably, a net zero building/zero energy building/zero net energy/net-zero energy building, is a building with zero net energy consumption (consumption of energy and production of renewable energy being same). World Green Building Council’s project, ‘Advancing Net Zero’ is an endeavor to make all buildings net zero by 2050. Training programs and Net zero certification rating systems will be introduced worldwide in countries which are projected to show the highest growth in building development. The first five companies to lead in this process are Johnson Controls, Integrated Environmental Solutions, Solatube, SageGlass, and Kingspan (plans to achieve this earlier in all its facilities by 2020).

The increasing incidence of water scarcity, pollution, and associated health problems arising out of it, has galvanized the global community, as a whole, to commit wholeheartedly to building green and sustainable built environment. The trend is likely to double every three years. Countries like India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and South Africa are developing two to six folds in the coming years, with continued expansion in developed countries such as US, UK and Germany.

And finally, with urbanization taking place at a large scale world over, governments and city planners must slowly move towards the development of sustainable and smart cities.

*All data courtesy Dodge report 2016

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