Ten ways to construct sustainable buildings

Monday, December 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Sustainable buildings.

The future is green, so goes the saying and many consumers are recognising the value of sustainable methods in the built environment. New advances in materials, technology and practices form environmentally friendly processes that also lead to better overall efficiency. Here are the top 10 sustainable building methods currently in use or under development.

Synthetic Roof Underlayment

The underlayment on roofs is typically asphalt-based, which breaks down relatively quickly.

Replacing this layer is necessary to keep moisture out of the building’s interior.

Synthetic roof underlayment offers an alternative that weighs less and holds up to the wear and tear of an exterior environment.

This material uses polymers that come from recycled scrap materials. It also eliminates volatile organic compounds from the underlayment.

Solar Thermal Cladding

Solar thermal cladding is a passive solar building method designed specifically to hold heat during the winter.

The sun’s energy is stored within this material and passed through to the building for heat retention purposes.

It works by harnessing the sun’s energy and converting it into heat which is then transferred into homes or businesses’ heating systems as hot water or space heating.

Solar thermal panels are used in conjunction with a boiler, collector or immersion heater. 

Green Roofs

Another innovation for the top of properties comes from green roofs. Grass, plants, flowers, bushes and other greenery grows on the roofing material.

Stormwater is absorbed into the soil and managed more easily than with a bare roof.

Heating and cooling costs are reduced, and the air quality is improved.

Grid Hybrid System

Renewable energy sources provides a sustainable way for organizations to power their commercial properties, but many grid systems lack storage to power facilities during times of low solar availability.

A hybrid system stores excess energy and allows the renewable source to function at night, during overcast days and in other conditions that aren’t ideal.

Passive Solar

Another way to leverage a sustainable solar energy source is to construct the building based on the passive solar concept, or use of the sun’s energy for the heating and cooling of living spaces by exposure to the sun.

The facility’s location and design maximize solar energy for heating during the cold weather, while reducing its impact during warmer months.

Greywater Plumbing Systems

All household wastewater, except toilet waste (Grey water systems) reduce the facility’s need for fresh water, as everything except for toilet streams can be processed for reuse.

The most common uses for this water include irrigation and supplying toilets with water.

In ecological sanitation, grey water is source- separated from toilet systems, allowing for simpler treatment systems than conventional sewage treatment plants.

Electrochromic Glass

Electrochromic glass, also known as smart glass or dynamic glass is an electronically tintable glass used for windows, skylights, facades and curtain walls.

It can shift from clear to opaque based on external stimuli such as an electrical current or ultra Violet (UV) rays.

It eliminates the need for shades and other window treatments, while adapting to current conditions passively. Additional benefits include blocking the vast majority of UV rays.

Structural 3D Printing

Creating and moving building materials to the job site can have heavy environmental costs.

As structure 3D printing begins moving forward, it becomes easier to cut down on shipping costs or reduce the weight of components.

Researchers around the world are using the technology to manufacture structural steel and metal components.

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing creates solid objects by successively piling material layers, one on top of the next, from a printer head.

Self-healing Concrete

This material is in its early stages, but once it is commercially viable it opens up many sustainable possibilities.

Everything from roads to walkways can benefit from concrete that heals itself.

Road crews would no longer need to shut down busy streets and highway lanes to address potholes and cracks.

IoT Integrated Automated Building Systems

The Internet of Things (IoT) gives facility managers access to data that they did not previously have access to.

These small connected sensors can integrate with automated building systems to improve the sustainability of operations.

For example, IoT sensors can dynamically adjust the required ventilation and lighting levels inside the building based on temperature, weather and CO2 readings.

The facility manager doesn’t need to manually stay on top of these adjustments or input data from multiple pieces of equipment.

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