Green building and construction not only benefits the environment the structure is built in, but the occupants and owners as well. Green buildings are more energy efficient, comfortable to live and work in, and are often healthier than standard built buildings and homes as well. For these reasons, many people are turning to green construction methods for their new homes and commercial buildings.
There are many ways you can create a greener building, including the use of green materials and technologies. If you’re about to embark on a building project of your own, consider these five green construction technologies to help create a better home or building for you and the environment.
Zero-Energy Building Design
Zero-energy or net zero buildings are becoming increasingly popular with homeowners who want to disengage from the “grid” and reduce their amount of energy consumption. In a zero-energy building, the amount of energy that is used by the building and its occupants, including the electricity, heating, and cooling systems are equal to the amount of energy that is produced on site. A truly zero-energy building will not require any outside source for energy, but will rely solely on the structure and site.
To make this type of design work, several different components are often brought into play. The building itself is usually designed to maximize light and passive heating. Walls are thicker and better insulated, and the building is relatively air tight. Energy is generated from solar, wind and other sources of renewable energy that can be generated on site. Because the building is highly energy efficient, it doesn’t use more energy than it creates.
For homes and buildings located in hot climates, cool roofs have a lot of appeal. A cool roof is made from material that either reflects the sun’s rays or that does not heat up in the sun. This in turn prevents the space below the roof from becoming superheated and transferring that heat down into the areas below. In a hot climate, this can have a significant impact on the comfort levels in the home, as well as the amount of energy used to cool the space.
Cool roofs can be made of architectural shingles that are either light in color, such as white, or that are made of materials that will deflect the sun’s rays. Cool roofs often look and function like other roofing materials, making them an attractive addition to the home or building as well as an eco-friendly addition.
Energy Efficient Walls
Most people are aware of the need to insulate a home to help increase its energy efficiency. With the use of energy efficient wall material, such as insulated concrete block walls, it’s possible to build the home from the ground up to be better insulated, more comfortable, soundproofed, and energy efficient all at once.
Insulated concrete block walls can be finished to give the home or building the appearance of a traditional, stick-built property. The difference lies in the incredible insulating properties of the walls. The concrete blocks are thicker, easier to build with, and create homes and buildings that are much more energy efficient, as well as more comfortable to live and work in.
Another technology that is seeing a lot of use in warmer climates is smart glass. Smart or switchable glass is used in windows, particularly in areas that see a lot of sun. As the glass heats up, it changes from transparent to translucent, blocking some of the sun’s light and heat from passing through the glass and into the house.
In a hot climate that sees a lot of sun, smart glass can help keep the property cooler, still letting in enough light to illuminate the rooms, but preventing that same light from heating up the interiors. This in turn means that less energy is needed to cool the home or building.
As the sun goes down and the light becomes less direct, the glass will switch back to completely transparent, maximizing the amount of light again. Depending on the direction of the sun’s light, many homes in hot climates may use smart glass along specific walls of the home or building to control the temperature of those rooms.
After a heavy rain or a melting snow, water often runs off streets, sidewalks, driveways, and lawns. Known as stormwater, this heavy amount of moisture needs somewhere to go. When absorbed by the ground and filtered through soil, stormwater can be purified and fed back into watersheds and aquifers.
When it comes to green building, proper stormwater management can not only help keep a home dry, protecting the roof and building from moisture, it can also help the landscaping. Stormwater management often consists of a series of gutters, drains, and rainscreens on the property that directs the water “to daylight” or far enough away from the house that it can be absorbed by the ground, where it can provide the most benefit to the area.
Build a Greener Home or Building
Green construction is only continuing to grow. Make use of these five technologies to help create a green, more energy efficient and comfortable building for now and for the future.