What does it mean to be a sustainable builder? A grass hut in the desert? Are there grass huts in the desert? Being a sustainable builder means building structures with the future and low-energy use in mind and implementing the green trends in construction. Using products and practices that will waste less and have fewer harmful byproducts is another large part of being sustainable in AEC.
Sustainably designed buildings and environments are put through a thoughtful process required to build green such as LEED certification requirements. The projects details are evaluated and optimized down to the smallest and most subtle detail. Sustainability in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) is becoming increasingly important as the earth continues to support growing human populations and larger industry.
There is no denying the importance of LEED. The positives of LEED building include saving money, creating a healthier environment, and promoting renewable, clean energy. Sustainability in AEC can be done in all different levels, including building design and construction, interior design and construction, building operations and maintenance, and neighborhood and urban development. Through mindful design, AEC is poised to play a big role in sustainability efforts globally.
Green trends in construction are quickly changing the way projects and planned and built. Beyond using green materials, technology has found its way into the construction industry in more creative ways as well. As the world’s population grows and creative solutions for construction and energy must be used, technology will continue to play a larger and larger role in the industry.
Construction technology has the ability to take AEC into sustainable practices now and in the future. Taking construction to the cutting edge of technology will help shape the future of AEC for the better. These practices support a healthier environment while saving money. Beyond simply meeting LEED requirements and using green materials, we have uncovered three trends to usher free construction into the future:
- Water Conservation
More emphasis is being put on water conservation from the project and planning phase. The fresh water supply in some regions is highly strained as it is and with increased climate change, the threat of drought is worsening. For this reason, reduced water consumption in building through water-conserving fixtures, rainwater recovery systems, and more efficient cooling systems are innovative and popular ways to go green in new construction. New products are created all the time to help with water conservation and some of the technology behind these products includes sensors, automated flow restrictors, and water use alerts.
- Zero-Net-Energy Buildings
As the name suggests, Zero-Net-Energy buildings are buildings with zero net energy consumption. For a building to qualify for a Zero-Net-Energy rating, the energy used by this structure must equal the amount of renewable energy created on this site. There are more buildings that claim to be Zero-Net-Energy capable than actually meet the strenuous standards. These buildings are still low-energy buildings, however, making them a step above the average structure. Energy-Plus-Buildings are the next step up. They return MORE energy to the grid than they use annually. These buildings are not as common as the Zero buildings, but knowing they are possible means more strives towards this green-friendly trend will be made. Zero-Net-Energy buildings are becoming more and more common and has been slowing making ground since 2011. With more and more cities and states requiring building performance disclosure, this is a good thing. Ten cities across the U.S. are demanding by 2030 that all new buildings be Zero-Net-Energy.
- Big Data
Large buildings are increasingly managed remotely through software platforms. These platforms provide performance monitoring, data analytics, visualization, fault detection, and energy portfolios. All of these functions use the cloud and gather big data. Big data can be applied to any industry and in construction, it has the power to bring green trends out of possible and into action. The more information that is known about a structure, the more direction can be provided about improvements to be made. It makes building automation possible as well as information management. Big data can be obtained through sensors throughout the building using IoT and aids in creating a greater awareness for energy upgrades or proof of meeting government standards.