John Willoner’s Eco-House at Findhorn. Turf roof, passive solar, solar panel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What comes to mind when you think of sustainability in your construction business? Is it using reclaimed wood and materials? A restoration instead of an entire tear down? Interest in sustainable construction practices and materials grows every day, and if you are not considering integrating sustainability into your builds, you may find customers are willing to move on to your more sustainable competition.
This year, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) will celebrate projects that are the result of а thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology for the 18th year in а row. Last year, the ten honorees were selected because of their positive contributions to their communities, improved comfort for building occupants and reduced environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.
Project highlights incorporated sustainable practices such as on-site waste-water recycling, vegetated roofs that absorb and evaporate rainfall, using structural piles for geothermal heating and cooling, а commercial buildings that provide up to 7% of its own power needs from renewable photovoltaic and wind sources, and а residential home that produces 100% of its own energy needs with solar.
Don’t know where to start with sustainable building? Here are four trends in sustainability construction practices:
Focus on Water
Awareness of the coming crisis in fresh water supply, both globally and in the US, will increase, moving building designers, owners and managers to take further steps to reduce water consumption. Fixtures that conserve water, rainwater capture and innovative new onsite water technologies will become standard practice.
Aim for Zero (Energy Use)
Net-Zero Energy buildings will become much more commonplace, in both residential and commercial sectors. LEED and ENERGY STAR certifications are now too common to confer competitive advantage among building owners
Avoid “Red List” chemicals
Environmental and Health Product Declarations will begin to appear in large numbers in the next 2-3 years, as building product manufacturers increasingly try to gain or maintain market share based on open disclosure of chemical ingredients.
Utilize Sustainable Materials
Reclaimed wood is just the beginning of the sustainable materials available. Wool bricks are 37% stronger than other bricks, and more resistant to the cold wet climates. They also dry hard, reducing the embodied energy as they don’t need to be fired like traditional bricks.
Traditional roof tiles are either mined from the ground or set from concrete or clay – all energy intensive methods. Once installed, they exist to simply protect а building from the elements despite the fact that they spend а large portion of the day absorbing energy from the sun. With this in mind, many companies are now developing solar tiles. Unlike most solar units which are fixed on top of existing roofing, solar tiles are fully integrated into the building, protecting it from the weather and generating power for its inhabitants.
Paper-based insulation is made from recycled newspapers and cardboard, and is а superior alternative to chemical foams. Both insect resistant and fire-retardant thanks to the inclusion of borax, boric acid, and calcium carbonate (all completely natural materials that have no associations with health problems), paper insulation can be blown into cavity walls, filling every crack and creating an almost draft-free space.
If you really want to blaze а trail and stay ahead of the competition when it comes to sustainable construction, the Living Building Challenge can give you the certification and imperatives on which to focus. “The Living Building Challenge™ is а green building certification program that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions. Projects that achieve this level of performance can claim to be the ‘greenest’ anywhere, and will serve as role models for others that follow. ”
Stick to sustainable practices, and the customers and market share will follow.
Original article posted by Melissa Zimmerman.
About Melissa Zimmerman
Melissa Zimmerman is а freelance writer with а varied background in e-commerce, real estate, financing, retail, and the health and beauty industry. She draws on these experiences and а never-ceasing passion for learning while perfecting her craft. Melissa lives in Central Oregon, where tech start-ups, microbreweries and outdoor adventures abound.