Stemming from the concerns regarding energy crisis and environmental pollution in the 1960s and 1970s, the green building industry is stronger than ever before. More and more building companies are designing and implementing projects that are environmentally friendly and energy efficient. The green building sector is characterized by the following green construction trends:
Integration of Renewable Energy
More green buildings are relying on renewable energy, which can never be depleted due to constant supply. Solar power is by far the most common form of renewable energy. Solar panels consisting of photovoltaic cells are common on rooftops nowadays, and they can also be found on facades (the front of buildings), parking garages, retail stores, and warehouses. Some home builders even integrate solar power capabilities in transparent modules on windows and skylights. Skyscrapers in particular use roof-mounted wind turbines, another popular source. Buildings that use renewable energy usually have enough power to cover their needs and even send back excess energy to the power grid.
Emergence of Energy Efficient Light Technology
Since lighting takes up about 10 to 30 percent of a building’s total energy consumption, efforts have been made to create more energy efficient lighting. LEDs in particular are popular for their increased efficiency. They not only require about one-tenth of the energy of incandescent light bulbs and cut the energy use of compact fluorescents by half; they also last about 40 times as long.
Promotion of Proper Insulation
More home builders or industry experts are encouraging home owners to properly insulate their houses. This is because houses can have gaps and cracks, through which air can get in. During the summer, the increase of hot air would make the air conditioner work harder, and the same goes for the heating system during the winter; the result is an increased energy bill. With the advance of technology, insulators that have been used for decades are constantly being refined for greater efficiency. A notable example is the insulating concrete form, which uses interlocking polystyrene concrete to create seamless walls that keep out excess air. A newer invention, called phase-changing material, is growing in popularity because of its ability to trap air between its fibrous strands and either absorb or release it back into the atmosphere.
Refinement of Heating and Cooling Systems
According to Braun’s Roofing, an affordable and dependable company, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems are major consumers of energy – about half of the building’s energy, according to experts. Some home builders strategically install ceiling fans in some rooms to reduce the cooling work load of the A/C. Moreover, passive solar and radiant heating technology diverts warm sunlit air into the building during the winter and draws in colder air during the summer. However, since heating takes up most of the energy of HVAC systems, most of the newest technologies are devoted to this aspect. Air purification, for instance, uses ultraviolet light and photo-reactive chemicals for heat, thus aiding the heating system and cutting down energy costs.
Growing Popularity of ENERGY STAR Products
The EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and the U.S. Department of Energy came up with this international standard back in 1992, but it has skyrocketed in popularity with the recent awareness of energy efficiency. Consumer products that bear the ENERGY STAR label are designed to consume less energy than regular products. The label can be found on a wide range of products, which include lighting, heating and cooling systems, TVs, computers, and refrigerators.