As climate change continues to pose concerns, renewable energy sources are more in demand than ever. Green building is also in demand, both for real estate developers and homeowners. The cost of traditional energy has skyrocketed in recent years, and green buildings often pay for themselves over time just with the energy savings they are able to generate.
Growth and Certification
Green building is, for the first time, outpacing overall construction growth in the U.S , creating more than 2.3 million new jobs. That number is expected to increase even further since it includes a number of industries like solar and geothermal energy, storm water treatment, and home energy audits.
Due to the urgent need to reduce pollution and the consumption of finite natural resources, there are now a number of green building certification and ratings systems designed to establish industry guidelines. Many, such as LEED, also provide training and education for meeting those guidelines in addition to contributing more than 134.3 billion to the economy. You can learn more about the green building market here.
Going Green Worldwide
There are some stunning examples of green buildings in the U.S. that help ensure that the planet stays that way, too. The first American high rise building to receive LEED Platinum certification was the Bank of America Tower in Manhattan. It boasts CO2 monitors, LED lighting, and waterless urinals. It even has its own generation plant and produces 4.6 megawatts of sustainable energy.
In Australia, the K2 apartments are setting a new standard for public housing. The complex has a lifespan of 200 years and only uses sustainable energy. Made of partially recycle timber, it harvests rainwater as well as reusing grey water. For heating, including water heating, it utilizes solar power in the form of photovoltaic panels . According to the government, it uses 55 percent less electricity than conventional apartments, 46 percent less gas, and 53 percent less water, making the energy savings phenomenal.
Britain’s One Angel Square in Manchester serves as the headquarters of a co-operative group that houses 3,000 employees. Powered by a combined heat and power (CHP) system, it has earned a rating of “outstanding” by BREAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Methodology). The building is powered by pure plant (rapeseed) oil grown on the co-op’s own farm land. It has LED lighting and a recycling system for waste and rainwater. It generates enough energy to send the excess back to the grid.
Shanghai Tower in China is the second tallest building in the world. It’s outer lighting is powered by wind turbines located in park areas and at the top of the structure. Transparent “skins” reduce the need for artificial lighting by allowing a greater amount of natural lighting to enter the building. Heating and lighting are monitored by smart controls, which reduce the amount of power needed and cut energy usage and costs. The architects predict that the lighting controls alone save more than a half a million dollars annually. Further, they estimate that the building’s carbon footprint will be reduced by 34,000 metric tons every year.
In Canada, the Manitoba Hydro Place uses natural ventilation make it more energy efficient. A geothermal heating and cooling system, roof gardens, and triple-glazed windows all contribute to the 60 percent in energy savings it has achieved. Because sustainable building is changing the face of architecture worldwide, many industries are changing in response to a greater demand for long-term sustainability. That includes the residential home construction industry. However, there are things that even those with older homes can do to make their homes greener.
Making Homes Greener
Unlike big businesses, most homeowners aren’t able to afford to install wind turbines or water conservation systems. However, there are still a few things average homeowners can do to conserve energy. Just sealing windows and replacing leaky faucets can preserve natural resources and save a substantial amount of both energy and money over time. One study revealed that 10% of homes that have leaks use at least 90 more gallons of water per day.
Buying organic products reduces the amount of pesticides used worldwide, which also conserves precious groundwater. Our future may just depend on making it greener.
Philip Piletic -I’m a freelancer, writer and traveler who loves to share his experience with others by contributing to online communities and helping others achieve success. You can reach me over LinkedIn.