Sustainable building, also known as green building, can be best described as the implementation of environmentally conscious, resource friendly systems and processes throughout a building’s lifecycle. In other words, from design to demolition, every aspect of the building is created by construction engineers to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Green construction has gained traction in recent years and isn’t slowing down anytime soon. For those looking to build green, they are easy and simple practices one can implement. Here are just a few ways you can try green building for your next project.
1. Sustainable Construction Materials
At any given construction site, the consumption of resources is considerable. By integrating recycled and/or biodegradable materials, we could see a major impact in both waste reduction and air pollution. On your next green construction project, make these simple swaps to make a big difference.
Natural Paint: It is void of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Natural paint not only decomposes without contaminating the earth, but it also helps to eliminate indoor air pollution.
Steel beams made from recycled metal: In place of wood beams, one could allot these recycled steel beams within the green construction. It could help to prevent further exhaustion to a valuable natural resource: wood. These steel beams also offer more resilience towards severe weather conditions.
2. Zero-Energy Buildings
It may be deemed nearly impossible to construct a building that uses next to no energy. However, that is not the case. Zero-energy buildings are designed and engineered to function independent of the electric grid, by use of only renewable resources, e.g. sun and wind. How can one utilize renewable resources when constructing a green building?
Solar panels: The sun is a renewable resource, and solar power systems work to turn sun rays to usable energy. Photovoltaic (PV) cells are found on the solar panels, and convert sunlight to a direct current (DC). In addition to the panels, there is the inverter, which converts the DC into alternating current (AC) electricity. AC is then sent from the inverter to the electrical panel, giving you energy to power your building.
3. Low Emissivity (Low-E) Coatings and Smart Windows
Roughly 30% of heating and air conditioning is lost through windows. Although low-e coatings and smart windows are still relatively new, construction engineers see that they are quickly becoming a well-known resource for green building.
- Emissivity can be best defined as the ability of a material to radiate energy. The coating acts as a reflector for longwave infrared (heat) energy. During the winter months heat will try to escape through windows; the coating helps to reflect heat energy back inside, in turn, reducing the energy needed to maintain the set thermostat.
- Low-E coating also works in the summer months which could lead to a decrease in energy needed to maintain a cooler thermostat. The coating acts as a thermos, for your own home or building.
Construction Engineers’ Insights Into Green Construction
- Green building is an efficient, environmentally friendly way to construct and maintain any building.
- Choosing to build with sustainable construction materials significantly reduces your building’s carbon footprint.
- Use next to no energy to power your building by utilizing renewable resources like solar panels.
- Decrease energy consumption by using Low Emissivity coatings on windows to keep heat and air conditioning indoors.
What type of ideas have you implemented into your green construction process? What advice have construction engineers given you in the past? Contact us and let us know your thoughts.