The Latest in International Green Building Trends

Thanks in part to both consumer and governmental influence, green building trends are increasingly relevant to today’s construction professionals. Understanding how these trends vary around the world will help you better plan for your company’s future at home and abroad.

green building trendsDriving Factors for Green Growth

In many developed economies, including the US, UK, Germany and Poland, the green building market has already reached a certain level of maturity, but continues to see moderate expansion. Developing economies, including Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and China have seen a much sharper increase in the percentage of construction projects that will meet green standards.

For most construction firms around the world, the top trigger for undertaking a green building project is client demand. The percentage of firms citing this trigger rose from 35 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2015. Increasingly strict environmental regulations are also encouraging investment in green projects.

In both cases, technological advancements support these green building trends. Both Germany and the UK plan to make BIM the standard for the design and management of construction projects, while Brazil and Saudi Arabia are moving in that direction.

Where the Jobs Are

Commercial construction, which includes office buildings, retail stores and hotels, is the top sector for green building worldwide. Some 46 percent of construction contractors expect to work on a green commercial project in the next three years. These projects are likely to be particularly popular in Germany, Poland, China and India. The UK and Australia, on the other hand, expect to see little in the way of new green commercial construction.

Institutional construction, such as schools and other government buildings, is the second strongest sector worldwide. In the US, however, it’s the sector where the highest percentage percentage of green construction projects are expected. 46 percent of US construction firms expect to take on a green institutional project in the next three years.

Retrofitting of existing buildings ranks as the third sector over all, but comes in first in the UK, South Africa and Singapore.

For more information on green building trends, contact Construction Monitor today.

5 Green Construction Trends To Look Out For

The big push in green construction throughout 2016 will put an emphasis on creating energy-efficient buildings that have a low-impact on the health of the environment. Sustainability and energy efficiency are becoming more important to business, governments and consumers around the world. This opens up the possibility for new products that are environmentally responsible. Each year, more firms are shifting their focus to green building. In 2008, only 13 percent focused on green buildings. In 2013, the trend increases to 28 percent. 2015 reports showed as high as 51 percent of respondents aimed to include green building practices. Those who watch construction trends will benefit from keeping their eye out on a few key developments.

Sustainable and GreenSingle-Family Home Construction

Green construction is booming, and construction companies that take advantage of green trends will see greater profit margins. Companies are beginning to use more sustainable building materials since consumers are demonstrating that they are willing to pay for efficient buildings. This can include recycled content, easily replenishable resources, locally available materials and salvaged materials. Choosing companies that carefully regulate their resource uses is important to consumers, and it can result in a better outlook for the environment.

Smarter Technology

Homes are beginning to make better use of technology to anticipate the needs of the occupants. In home building, it’s becoming more common to integrate lights that shut off when nobody is in the room and use an economical heating and cooling system that adjusts to occupants. Construction crews are also using advanced technology to create plans and test designs for any issues. Designers can quickly change materials used in the building process to find the most economical and environmentally-friendly option for each project.

Emphasis on Renovations

In the field of construction, there is an increase in the trend toward renovations. This offers a more economical option for upgrading a location, and the process may add new technologies to make the building more environmentally friendly. With renovations. most of the original structure remains intact, but key elements like insulation and electrical systems can be upgraded to provide better energy efficiency. Entire heating and cooling units can be replaced, and the building gains from increased overall efficiency. Remodels are popular when renovating a building, and there are various enhancements that can be used to reduce mold, use durable materials and making the most of energy utility usage.

Multi-Family Housing

Single family homes are expensive to build, and they can have a negative environmental impact. Multi-family homes solve this problem by dividing a home into more than one smaller units. These homes still offer the convenience and privacy of a home, but they take up less room and many of the resources can be shared between homeowners. Green multi-family homes are expected to increase to 79 percent of all multi-family homes that are built by 2018. Customers are willing to pay for green homes, and customers can save even more money when the cost of homeownership is reduced through the selling of multi-family homes.

High-Efficiency Products

Air conditioners, heating systems, electrical systems and alternate fuels can help reduce energy expenditures and make a building green. Consumers have shown an interest in paying for technology that can reduce their environmental impact. As the technology becomes more widespread, it will also become cheaper to produce. By taking advantage of the current interest in high-efficiency products and green construction techniques, construction companies can increase their profits while providing customers with what they need.

The market is continuing to favor green building. Construction companies that don’t take advantage of these trends are going to find themselves left behind as other companies begin to incorporate green technology in their homes and buildings. Buildings that offer renewable energy are on the rise, and the future of green building will require an initial investment in new technology and building techniques. However, the future of green building is bright as consumers continue to demand more energy-efficient building practices.

The Living Building: The New Green Building Challenge

With energy-efficient and sustainable construction maintaining a significant place in the current construction industry, new initiatives that support green building continue to emerge. Net-zero buildings, for example—those buildings that create as much energy as they use—have become increasingly popular among energy-conscious and environmentally aware contractors and clients. A new initiative, the Living Building, has the potential to take the concepts of green building even further.

green buildingThe Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge (LBC), promoted by the International Living Future Institute, is a carefully controlled building certification that can be applied to structures that meet extremely strict standards of sustainability, energy efficiency and green construction. The LBC standards are so stringent that fewer than 10 LBC-certified buildings exist as of March 2016, according to reporter Kim Slowey on the Construction Dive website. Another 20 buildings are in the precertification stage.

LBC standards increase the sustainability factor to a level that turns a building into an almost natural part of its surrounding environment. The standard “calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture,” according to the Living Building Challenge website.

A certified building must meet standards in seven distinct areas, known as “petals,” Slowey reported. These comprise Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Both net positive water and energy are required, as is a healthy indoor environment. The standard requires car-free living, access to nature, and careful consideration of the beauty and spirit of a structure.

Although LBC certification is a considerable challenge, meeting it gives environmentally aware builders and occupants the opportunity to take a large-scale, positive step toward confronting what they see as some of the biggest threats to the planet’s future.

LBC certification could also provide practical benefits and economic returns in cities that are aggressively pursuing sustainability and environmentally conscious construction, Slowey noted.

Construction Monitor helps modern construction professionals understand the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. Contact us today for more information on green building trends and what living buildings are going to mean for the future of sustainable, energy-efficient construction.

Top Sustainable Features in New Homes

As the demographics of new-home buyers shift to younger and more energy-conscious purchasers, builders are recognizing that energy efficiency and sustainability are becoming major considerations in home purchases.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that energy efficiency, represented through energy savings and decreases in electricity bills, is a high priority with many new-home buyers.

sustainable features in new homesThis trend is being driven by the entrance of more millennials into the housing market, according to information on the NAHB website.

Younger buyers tend to be more concerned about sustainability and energy efficiency and have demonstrated a willingness to pay more for new homes with these features—up to twice to three times more, according to the NAHB.

The top sustainable features in new homes include:

  • Energy Star certification: This certification, from the government’s Energy Star program, certifies a home as being as energy efficient as possible.
  • High-efficiency appliances and HVAC systems: High-efficiency appliances and heating and cooling equipment can slash monthly energy costs by a substantial percentage. In many cases, these devices can pay for themselves in energy savings alone by about the halfway point of their expected functional lifespan. Geothermal heating and cooling is an especially efficient option.
  • High-efficiency windows: High-efficiency windows, including windows with low-e glass, are designed to be tightly sealed, preventing air and energy loss around the window, its frame, and its casing. Low-e glass helps keep heat in during the winter and out in the summer.
  • Renewable energy options: Some houses can be equipped with solar panels that can produce a substantial portion of a home’s energy via sunlight.
  • Programmable thermostats: Electronic programmable thermostats provide a high level of control over HVAC system operation and can provide significant energy savings.
  • Low-flow fixtures: Low-flow faucets, showerheads, and other fixtures reduce water usage while still providing plenty of water for daily use.

Construction Monitor helps construction firms keep up to date with the latest trends and developments throughout the residential housing industry. Contact us today for more information on the most desirable sustainable features in new homes and how you can more effectively offer these features to your customers.

Sustainable Building Materials: Keeping Your Jobsite Eco-Friendly

With sustainable construction maintaining its popularity as a viable building approach, more builders and their customers are turning to environmentally friendly construction materials as substitutes for less eco-friendly options. You can use the following list to identify some of the sustainable building materials available to you.

sustainable building materialsInsulation

Fiberboard and spun fiberglass have long been a popular choice for insulation used in residential and commercial construction. Fiberglass blanket insulation is commonly used between joists and beams in walls, floors, and ceilings. More sustainable options include:

  • Wood fiber insulation: Wood fiber insulation provides a high level of heat resistance. It originates from a highly renewable and sustainable source and is not toxic.
  • Cellulose insulation: Cellulose insulation is often made from recycled newspaper or other paper products. As a wood-based material, cellulose is also renewable and safe to use.

Structural Materials

Bricks, concrete, and metal are three very common structural materials used in construction projects. Obtaining and manufacturing these materials can be harmful to the environment while consuming resources that can’t be easily renewed. Alternatives include:

  • Straw bales: Straw bales are thick, heavy blocks of material made from naturally growing straw. These bales can last for many decades if properly maintained. Since straw comes from a natural plant material, it is fully biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
  • Timber: Traditional timber is still a good option for framing a house or other structure. Timber is natural and renewable and provides high versatility for construction applications.

Flooring

Concrete, tile, and wood laminate have been frequent choices for flooring in the past. Sustainable alternatives include:

  • Bamboo: Bamboo flooring comes from a fast-growing grass that can easily be adapted for use as a construction material.
  • Hardwood: Hardwood floors suggest luxury, but they are actually highly sustainable. Hardwood is very tough and versatile while offering natural beauty.

Wondering what’s going to be influencing the construction industry over the next few months? Count on Construction Monitor for insight into the trends that will have an impact on your business. Contact us today for more information on sustainable building materials and the role sustainability will play in tomorrow’s construction industry.

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Solar power offers a range of benefits that make it an extremely attractive and economical option in residential construction. These benefits include: Continue reading Solar-Powered Homes: Where and Why Are They Becoming So Popular?

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More on the Spaceship-Style Apple Campus Construction in California

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One of the site’s most notable features—the enormous spaceship-style headquarters building that will serve as the area’s centerpiece—was revealed in model form in October 2013. The sprawling building will be the campus’s centerpiece, consisting of a ring-shaped structure highlighted with architectural glass features and topped by an extensive network of solar panels. The building will include a large auditorium, a walking/jogging path and a fitness center, among other amenities. Continue reading More on the Spaceship-Style Apple Campus Construction in California

The Debate Over Manhattan’s Bank of America Building, Known as the Greenest Skyscraper

Bank of America BuildingAlthough it’s been dubbed the greenest skyscraper by its supporters, some suggest the Bank of America building in Manhattan is a perfect illustration of the LEED rating system’s shortcomings. Despite being loaded with eco-friendly technology and achieving the LEED Platinum rating (the highest possible), the building is still relatively inefficient. Continue reading The Debate Over Manhattan’s Bank of America Building, Known as the Greenest Skyscraper