Supporters of green technology in construction are conscionable energy savers constantly challenging construction methods to be eco-friendlier than is usually observed—shaving costs not at the cost of the build performance to beat negative productivity arising from wasted man-hours and unused materials.
Buildings in the U.S.—more prominently high-rises and top-of-the-line residential complexes—account for 39 percent of the energy consumption. Mostly using traditional materials, building contractors turn a high amount of pollution across incessant, intense construction activities through prolonged project cycles typically known to exceed projected timelines.
Juxtaposing the industry’s productivity predicament, inefficient energy use—resulting from age-old practices leaving human and machine efforts terribly un-optimized—has hijacked the construction industry’s leverage to thrive during economic downturns.
Sustainable practices, or to borrow from the ongoing crusade against conventional methods, a green technology movement has ricocheted global construction markets—the fast-emerging catch-all meant for righting the environmental wrongs of aggressive industrialization.
So you must wonder: Is green construction technology potent enough to both rectify rampant environment abuse and to enable the construction of advanced living and working spaces? Answers aren’t all black and white as the adoption of green tech is still to be on par with its development.
We decided to relook at examples of green technology introduced thus far, in advancing this movement to combat consequences of conventional design and building practices.
Green Construction Technology Trend #1: Building with Biodegradable Materials
Starting with the foundation of all construction, using biodegradable materials helps intrinsically break down compounds and toxins forming within a structure either due to normal wear and tear or adverse weather conditions.
Chemical-heavy materials widely used in projects of all scales and sizes have a high concentration of toxic compounds that aren’t easily degradable and over time affect the performance of a structure. Hazardous industrial waste leads the destruction of surrounding ecosystems when released and disposed of irresponsibly—which most construction companies do despite their seemingly airtight environment audits—and contribute to a threatening amount of greenhouse emissions, the hot debate veered by millennials and post-millennials today.
These materials are less expensive and high-impact, holding the capacity to enhance a structure’s durability and gradually avert soil and marine life contamination. Builders need to consult with materials engineers to onboard the right type and specify design requirements to be met with such material—doing this will maximize the usability of biodegradable materials.
However, design specifications aren’t often understood in the manner that they’re defined. This opens room for error not just in selecting the wrong material type but further along in the implementation of said specifications. Room for error equals room for reworks that pleases no contractor or client. Click for more info on such errors and more can be avoided using a handy tool.
Green Construction Technology Trend #2: LEED-Certified Utility Appliances
Getting electrical appliances LEED certified cuts back on energy consumed daily. Known as smart appliances, many homes and offices are built through energy-efficient mechanisms—for instance, a wooden building would naturally consume less power compared to concrete and steel buildings. Another great idea would be to install wind turbines on top of high-rise buildings, as wind flow is steady at higher altitudes, which can power most of the building’s electrical outlets and power-run fixtures by auto-adjusting power supply depending on usage patterns.
High-performance windows and insulation techniques allow free flow of natural light and air into rooms, slowly decreasing reliance on air conditioners and conventional lighting and HVAC systems. Installing solar panels on residential roofs will lead to massive power savings and heightened climate consciousness which will cut down construction and maintenance costs exponentially.
Green Construction Technology Trend #3: BIM-Fuelled Project Delivery
The pioneering spirit of the BIM technology has swooned construction managers battling odds to close projects on time and under budget. It has made virtual design a living reality which enables them to build accurate 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D, and 6D models to streamline office and on-site work. Leaner processes permeating the build phases as a result, construction materials and activities soak less carbon progressively throughout the supply value chain. Contractors adopting BIM are convinced by the value it has to offer by cutting waste and optimizing logistics and timelines to enhance project profitability.
But what about ground managers overseeing daily jobsite activities, who, more than anyone, need efficient mechanisms incorporated?
Leaning on cutting-edge construction technologies might be the solution—hold on a second, it is. Construction project managers need time on their side without build quality slipups, to overcome such constraints is why AR-VR technology comes widely recommended by experts not just for in-office teams but for contractor and subcontractor teams negotiating the harsh struggles of executing complex design specifications on strict timelines. No more flaws and delays as these tech solutions level the playfield in combination with green technology.
Doubling down on BIM’s promises, artificial intelligence is incrementally raising its accuracy to make predictions—through machine learning. A subset of machine learning is of particular importance, deep learning, which records and processes project data in real-time to strengthen BIM’s capability to suggest stronger alternatives early on in the pre-construction phases. Imagine syncing in green technology with a highly intelligent BIM-fuelled construction project delivery system—a possibility too good to be true for skeptics while forward-thinking managers continue to reap its rewards.
Green Construction Technology Trend #4: Smart Sensors
Deploying smart sensing technology is yesterday’s news, but remains far less activated on sites.
Study after study, project after project has shown use cases of smart sensors to capture site conditions, equipment health, worker activity—however, it hasn’t garnered the traction it deserves. Many projects are developed in less-than-ideal environments that are harsher than normal locations, where workers imminently face the danger of exposure if not equipped or trained to handle site activities. When smart sensors are installed during site prep and are outfitted on worker safety gear, they alert superintendents and workers to obvious and not-so-obvious threats, reducing the scope for human error. When these sensors are installed on end-user appliances and functional features of living spaces, they can perform a range of jobs:
- Alert about hazards in leaving HVAC systems turned on for too long,
- Alert about imbalanced indoor air ventilation
- Alert about developing ceiling cracks, mold, moisture underneath floors
That makes applying energy-efficient solutions even more significant as these sensors are low cost and automatically adjust indoor conditions to meet safety and health standards.
Green Construction Technology Trend #5: Solar-Powered Electricity Supply
Sustainable building technologies are incomplete without some “solar” indulgence. The ultimate source of energy, the sun, turns out can be harnessed in active and passive formats. Where active solar panels directly supply power to the building process, the passive panels drive sustainable construction design to effectively heat homes, buildings, factories, and other structures through heat-absorbing surfaces. Contractors may foot a fat upfront bill in getting such systems but save immensely on energy bills while curbing emissions.
Green Construction Technology Trend #6: Cool Roofs
Not many roofing solutions are seen to be energy efficient—in fact, not many contractors present it as an option, hence, making them invisible to an increasingly climate-conscious buyer.
Cool roofs are energy saviours—quite literally—where in summers occupants can benefit from its sunlight-deflecting capabilities while maintaining room temperatures throughout winters as well. They relieve the pressure off power circuits to push more electricity to meet heating-cooling demands. Whereas regular roofing work involving metal shingles would let the sunlight/breeze penetrate the home or building that can subsequently burden power supply systems.
Tracking roofing work can turn into a treacherous activity if you’re not using professional equipment. Though roofing contractors must walk you through inspection using binoculars, they still fall short on giving you a precise picture. Thanks to drones capturing every ounce of concrete and tile work by the inch, you can check your energy-efficient roof for deficiencies without a second thought. See how drone-enabled engineering is impacting lives.
Green Construction Technology Trend #7: Green Insulation
Insulation is one of the foremost concerns of a builder. Similarly, they can raise costs for the end-user as traditional insulation uses expensive and high-end materials for heat insulation and proofing. On the other hand, green insulation comes at a much lower price and auto-adjusts inside temperatures regardless of the harshness of the external weather.
Green technology in building construction is rarely understood by consumers, which is why contractors need to include it in as many ways as seen fit in consumer best interests. Here are certain ways to select the best material:
- Ensure the cost of insulating material justifies the original budget
- Ensure they fit the identified area
- Ensure the right level of insulation is identified
- Ensure areas have been fireproofed
- Ensure areas are moisture-free
- Ensure materials are invulnerable to deformities
- Ensure materials are unaffected by rodents and insects
Implementing green technology is a work in progress proposition across construction markets.
The age-old environment adages of reuse-recycle-reduce waste though a cliché has never been truer. If energy consumption rises and construction developments raise the potential for costly disposals, they also present possibilities to uproot them by insinuating the smart manufacture and use of energy-efficient materials. Far from being cost centres, green construction methods enable doing more with less.