New construction technology is playing an increasingly important role in navigating environmental challenges and responsibilities. Below we take a closer look at the green building movement and discuss some of the technologies that are turning it into a trillion-dollar industry.
According to a report from the World Economic Forum, buildings produce 40% of our carbon emissions, 40% of our solid waste and consume 40% of our energy. These staggering statistics mean that the construction industry has a massive responsibility to reduce its environmental footprint.
The green building movement is a global step in the right direction. Essentially it’s the construction industry’s push for the use of more sustainable materials and practices which will have a better effect on the environment. In the US, the Obama administration has allocated over $80 billion towards green building technology, and this has encouraged numerous research projects and private sector contributions.
A local example of this push is seen through the work of the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA). The GBCA was established in 2002 to “drive the adoption of green building practices through market-based solutions.” They work in collaboration with the construction industry, academics and policy makers to oversee environmentally-friendly building practices. They also offer a Green Star rating system to eligible buildings as a way of further encouraging green building.
Since the introduction of the rating system (which focuses mostly on office space in Australia’s major cities), about 50% of the new buildings in these areas have been given Green Star labels. Now approximately 20% of Australia’s CBD office space is certified as being green, but this isn’t enough to make a proper difference, especially since the highest rating has only been awarded to 8% of buildings. We still have a lot of work to do.
We’ll now discuss five emerging technologies that are changing the game in construction, creating a more sustainable industry and earning the inventors a pretty sum in the process. They are outlined below.
The sun’s hitting your roof all day long, so it’s about time we used that energy wisely. Cool roofs can be constructed from a variety of materials, including reflective paint, specific roof shingles and tiles, as well as some plant-based products, such as grasses. This reflects more sun and traps warm or cool air inside the roof, cutting your air conditioning bill by at least 50%.
Sometimes we’re too focused on building the new and we forget about what happens when we tear down the old. Demolition is a major source of waste, which can cause significant environmental damage. There is now a wide range of biodegradable materials, such as paints and recycled insulation products, for example, that are created from organic components and naturally break down without releasing toxins into the earth. And they often perform better than their traditional counterparts, too.
You may have heard us talk about 3D printing before [link] – we make no apologies, we’re pretty excited about what the technology holds for the future of the green building industry. The process can create multiple houses from sustainable materials in a matter of hours. And research shows that 3D printed buildings release significantly lower carbon emissions than traditional constructions, as well as producing at least 40% less waste and are 50% cheaper to run.
This technology harnesses the warmth deep in the earth to heat your home. Pipes are buried up to a metre underground which stays close to 15.5 degrees. A water-based antifreeze product is pumped through the system which is then routed to a heat pump and this warms or cools your house. And although it needs a small amount of electricity to work, it’ll certainly save you money and energy in the long run.
Solar power is an easy way to repurpose the sun’s energy to power your home. Solar panels absorb the sun’s radiation and use it to heat or cool air or water. This significantly reduces your energy consumption. And while it may seem expensive to install solar panels initially, you’ll absolutely save money in the long run. Further, you can also passively use solar power by building large windows to let in extra solar energy and dark walls to absorb it.
The green building movement is alive and well, but it needs a concerted effort from the whole construction industry to make a difference. Impressive emerging technologies play an important role in this, improving our green building practices and saving the owners money in the process. So, jump on board and ride the green tech wave.By Jason Hook
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