In 2013, Green Building continues to grow and expand in all corners of the globe. More importantly, things such as client and market demand, lower operating costs, and public relations opportunities are being cited as reasons for this growth, according to the Global Green Building Trends Report.
This certainly leads one to conclude that green building is taking hold and will continue to influence building in the years ahead. With this in mind, here are eight green building trends to be aware of:
- Greening of Existing Buildings Half of the firms surveyed in the Global Green Building Trends Report have mentioned plans for green retrofits to an existing building in the next three years. In fact, certifications for LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M) have already exceeded new construction certifications in terms of total floor area! With a little shorter payback period, and similar expectations for reduced operating costs and increased building values when compared to new green buildings, there’s no surprise that firms are increasingly looking at renovation options for increasing the environmental benefits for existing structures.
- Disclosing Green Building Performance Increasingly, more cities and states will join the likes of Washington D.C., Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Washington state, and California in requiring buildings, especially large buildings, to perform energy audits. Audits consist of reporting utility data to a governing body, along with building size, configuration, and age to allow for benchmarking. This data can then be made available to tenants, buyers or even the public at large in hopes of influencing investment in energy efficiency.
- Water Conservation Already a major factor in building in many parts of the world, water conservation will continue to get more emphasis in the U.S. Rainwater capture systems and other devices that will help reduce water use and improve water efficiency will become increasingly common building design elements.
- Net-Zero Energy Buildings As builders look to differentiate their buildings in terms of energy efficiency, they will begin to turn to net-zero energy buildings. These buildings represent the pinnacle of energy efficiency, for now, and provide greater marketing and branding opportunities than LEED or Energy Star certifications. (Check out GBTV coverage of the Green Leaf Inn; first net-zero energy hotel being built in North America.)
- Avoiding “Red List” Chemicals As LEED begins to award points for avoiding materials proven to be harmful to human health and the environment, look for builders to place a larger emphasis on using alternatives to these materials. Building product manufactures will likely begin to market to this trend with more openness about their products contents as they look to differentiate their products. Certainly something to be on the lookout for.
- Green Building Mandates A step above simply disclosing green building performance, cities and states will also begin to mandate environmental building requirements. Applying mostly to public and large scale private buildings, though eventually to all buildings, these mandates will strong arm efforts to conserve energy and water and promote recycling, and use of more sustainable materials. Nearly two dozen large cities have already codified such mandates.
- More Solar! The culmination of the increased push for net-zero buildings and new building mandates from governments is that solar will take an even greater role in green building. Whether home based systems, larger systems financed through third parties, or solar collectives – solar energy will increasingly be integrated into green building plans. Emerging practices such as solar air-conditioning and building integrated photo voltaic, where solar panels serve as materials in parts of the building envelope, should also help spur further solar incorporation.
- Home and Building Automation Though much of the technology for home or building automation has existed for years, it is now becoming easier to use and more affordable. These systems come in all sorts of forms, from the simple to the complex, and have proven to be an adequate line of defense against energy waste, especially from HVACs, lighting, and appliances. Builders should continue to integrate these systems into old and new buildings alike.
Now it’s your turn! What green building trends have you noticed?
Contributor: David Thurnau has a background in political science, municipal government, and agriculture with an emphasis in environmental issues.
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