Going green in today's world goes far beyond recycling your trash and requesting paper bags instead of plastic. Conserving earth's finite resources affects every person, every place and every industry. Sustainability has become a critical element in many business strategies, since it not only good for the environment, but it also saves money and creates goodwill with the public. The commercial construction industry is embracing new green practices and definitely is going green. This is very important, since buildings are responsible for more than 40 percent of energy usage across the world and also cause one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions.
There is a strong market today for sustainable products, practices and processes in the building industry because of increased public awareness and support from some new legislation. Commercial construction contractors are seeing new opportunities and are responding to a rising demand from clients who want eco-friendly building materials and techniques used in their projects.
Green Construction Technology
Green construction is better for our environment because it depletes less of our natural resources and ensures cleaner and safer construction sites and workplaces. And after the construction project is completed, there will be greener facility maintenance, which will result in lower energy costs, less water consumption and better waste management. So what are some of the leading green construction trends that are helping to shape the future of commercial building construction?
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
LEED is the world's most widely used green building rating system and was devised by the U.S. Green Building Council, or USGBC, to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation toward sustainable design. A study by Booz Allen Hamilton reported that from 2015-18, LEED-certified buildings are estimated to achieve:
$1.2 billion in energy savings
$715.3 million in maintenance savings
$149.5 million in water savings
$54.2 million in waste savings
Many building products such as paint, drywall, furniture and carpeting contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These can become vapors or gases that will harm our air quality. Short-term exposure to these airborne chemicals can result in headaches, dizziness and eye and respiratory-tract irritation. And long-term exposure to these VOCs can affect human organ functions and the central nervous system.
Commercial contractors and their clients are pro actively responding to these risks by choosing materials that do not contain VOCs or have very low levels of VOCs. Now consideration also is given to the environmental impacts of building products throughout their life cycle.
Cloud computing increasingly is being used in businesses across all industries. Switching to cloud computing can save a company 30 percent to 90 percent of energy, depending on the size of the business. This is possible because cloud computing allows for multiple operating systems to run off one server and creates less equipment that is plugged in, and that saves energy. It allows a person to use only what they need instead of wasting energy.
BIM is a green technology that can improve collaboration and save time and resources by avoiding errors. This creates greener construction. BIM allows a designer to design more energy-efficient plans and collaborate with everyone involved from the initial planning phase to create the most sustainable model possible. BIM offers the user an opportunity to foresee and address issues that may arise. This will save time caused by needed rework and also reduce the amount of wasted resources.
Look around. The world is going green. The commercial construction industry is embracing this movement. One could label going green as a triple threat, since it has a positive impact on: the environment, the public and future business opportunities for commercial construction.