Archive for the 'going green' Category

Reports State that Building Green is Hitting a Record High

The worldwide economy may be struggling, but the demand for green buildings are at an all-time high, according to studies conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction (MGH) and Turner Construction.

Sustainability Dashboard Tools LLC CEO Stephen Ashkin credits this to the institutionalization of sustainability. This is precisely what the public demands: organizations that have an admirable policy on sustainability and make a deliberate effort to contribute to the lessening of environmental degradation. Organizations that report on their green efforts tend to have a more positive public perception. Because of the institutionalization of sustainability in corporate practices, corporations have taken it upon themselves to integrate it into their corporate practice.

But this is not the only reason why companies are keen on adopting green policies. The top reason is that a green building decreases building and operating costs.

Another reason is the increased productivity of employees, because of the improved indoor air quality (IAQ). The protection of building users also serve as a compelling reason for building owners to shift to green buildings. Askin states that “U.S. executives are no longer going Green just because they think it is the right thing to do. Today, the bread-and-butter issues like protecting [building user] health, enhanced worker productivity, and lowering operating costs, are center stage when it comes to why organizations want to be Green and more sustainable.”

From $10 billion in 2005, the worldwide growth of green building construction has escalated to $85 billion in just 7 years. This shows the mainstream appeal of green buildings in the construction industry. It might very well be the future of the entire industry.

The rising number of LEED certification, however, is going on the opposite direction, with corporations seeking LEED certification down from 61% in 2008 to less than 50% today. Does this mean that LEED is about to fade away? Probably not, according to Ashkin, as it will mostly likely remain as the standard as to whether or not a building deserves to be called a green building.

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4 Reasons Why Prefabricated Buildings are the Way of the Future

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Time is money. Image Source: Public domain.

There are several reasons why prefabricated construction is the future of the industry. With prefab buildings being a popular choice not only as a commercial building, but also an affordable and sophisticated housing option, there is no doubt that the age of prefabricated construction has just begun.

Still wondering if prefab construction is for you? Let us seal the deal with these four reasons.

1. Prefab buildings are quicker to build.

While regular construction can take months (even years!) to wrap up, prefab buildings take a record time to finish. Consider the world’s tallest prefab building in Brooklyn: the 32-story tower took a record time of 90 days. That is less than a third of a year—you can occupy the building and start reaping your returns right away.

2. Prefab buildings can save a lot of money.

For one, it requires fewer workers. The 32-story tower, in fact, took only 125 workers to work on everything, from the building’s floors and walls to the plumbing and electric lines. With the reduced costs of a prefab building, you have a building that is not only well-built and designed to withstand harsh elements, for a much lower price.

3. Prefab buildings are energy efficient.

The elements of a prefab building are tightly cut, meaning that they fit tightly and allow less room for the escape of energy inside the building. The materials are likewise energy-saving and will therefore reduce maintenance costs.

4. Prefab buildings offer more choices.

Because of the rapid rise of prefabricated buildings, more styles and choices are made available for the layout of your building, be it a commercial building or a house. We, at Norsteel, offer a variety of widths, textures, lengths, that will allow you to customize the perfect prefab building.

Green Certification Can Increase a Building’s Real Estate Value

You will probably notice a common factor in the finest buildings in San Francisco: a plaque at the entrance proudly declaring its green certification status. In fact, no less than 35% of San Francisco’s commercial buildings are certified either by LEED or/and Energy Star.

But what is the value of a green certification, and why should all commercial buildings follow San Francisco’s building owners?

The answer is simple: a green label can boost a building’s real estate value. An extensive study conducted by property research firm Nils Kok showed that companies are actively seeking green buildings for their employees and are willing to pay more rent than buildings that are not certified. Green buildings also have a sale rate that is 16% higher than other buildings.

But the increased real estate value of buildings does not stop at commercial buildings. Even green residential buildings also stand to benefit in terms of increased real estate value, as proven by another study conducted by Nils Kok and Matthew Kahn of the ULCA Luskin School of Public Affairs utilizes statistics from 1.6 million houses in California. From 2007 to 2012, the two studied the price implications caused by three green certifications: Energy Star, LEED for Homes, and GreenPoint Rated.

The study found that a green certification can increase the value of a home by as much as 9% compared to an identical home without a label. An average sale price of a home in California is around $400,000 and a green certification can bring that value up by as much as $34,800!

The study also revealed that green buildings are virtually a must in areas that have hotter climates, because a primary consideration of residents in those areas is energy efficiency. Also, a green label is more common in areas where residents are more environmental aware, judging by their green policies and the popularity of green vehicles.

As more families are looking to own houses and the real estate market is booming, there is every reason why you should secure a green label for both commercial buildings and residential buildings if you want to make the most out of the sale.

Six Ways to Green Your Company

Retrofitted metal roofing. Image: Norsteel Buildings.

Retrofitted metal roofing. Image: Norsteel Buildings.

If you are still in the process of greening your company, where do you start? As a matter of fact, there are several relatively simple steps to do this. Take a look at these six strategies that you can implement in your company right now.

1. Use alternative transportation modes.

Encourage occupants not to use single-occupied vehicles. Companies can provide a shuttle service at key points within the city. By offering transportation for free, your employees will be encouraged not to take their own vehicles and ride the vehicle instead.

2. Provide electric vehicle charging stations.

Make a survey of how many employees in your company are using hybrid vehicles. If you have a sufficient ratio, you might want to put up electric vehicle charging stations that offer free charging.

3. Provide preferred parking spots.

There are two ways to do this. You can either give preferred parking spots for guests, employees, or executives with low-emitting fuel-efficient vehicles or premium parking spaces for those who carpool to your building.

4. Use a closed-loop irrigation system.

You can conserve water not only by reviewing your landscape plan and reducing the amount required for irrigation by as much as 60% but also by having a closed-loop system where the run-off water from roofs, walkways and parking lots will be kept on-site and processed through a natural filtration system. The filtered water will eventually be pumped to a well and used to irrigate the vegetation in the building. It’s not as complex as it sounds, and it’s rather nifty.

5. Install efficient toilets.

Only buy and install efficient toilets that reduce water usage by as much as 35%. While you’re at it, you should also install laboratory sinks aerators.

6. Reduce indoor lighting and replace dark roofs.

Much of the energy-saving also has to do with tweaking certain aspects of your building here and there. Reducing your indoor lighting and making space for natural light is one of the more popular ways. Installing white roofs instead of dark ones will help in absorbing the heat of the sun in the morning and release it at night.

Toronto Leads in High Rise Building Construction, Followed by Calgary and Vancouver

Toronto. Image Source: Public domain.

Toronto. Image Source: Public domain.

Toronto, the biggest city in Canada, is proving itself to be a leader in the modern construction. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has just released a report entitled “Canada Rising” stating that Toronto is currently leading construction starts in the Western world with regard to new buildings at least 150 meters tall.

With 15 skyscrapers currently under construction, Toronto will probably hold on to its title for quite some time. Just in 2005, Toronto had 13 buildings with 45 storeys and now it currently holds the record for the most number of tall buildings with 30 high rises under construction. By 2015, this number will have more than tripled as a total number of 44 in construction.

Calgary is a runner-up with 14 tall buildings, followed by Vancouver.

By 2015, tall buildings in Canada will have numbered 74—from merely 27 in 2001. Just last 2012, Canada saw four buildings of up to at least 200 meters built.

The rising number of tall buildings is but a sign of urban sustainability of Canada. According to Executive Director Dr. Antony Wood of CTBUH, “Canada is reshaping its urban centers and tall buildings are playing a large role. Canada is at the forefront of discussions about density, transportation and urban sustainability.”

The tall building boom should come as no surprise, as Canada recently experienced an increase in tall buildings because of the expansion of condominium apartments in the country. Back in 2001, 26 out of the 27 tall buildings were either hotels or office buildings. This time, 15 out of the 15 tall buildings under construction are residential. 8 out of the 9 tall buildings that were completed in 2012 were residential as well.

But quantity in tall buildings is not the only badge of pride Canada should wear, because its quality is far from second-rate.

Building Owners Want Green Buildings but not LEED Certification

The global economy may be weak, but that is not stopping homeowners and commercial building owners from putting up green buildings.

At least 51%, of companies said that their buildings will be certified as green in 3 years or by 2015. That is a 28% increase from 2012 and a 13% increase from 2009.

The main motive behind going green is not so much the preservation of the environment but the financial advantages of going green. With smart windows and LED light bulbs among a few other innovations in the green construction, the case for green buildings has just gotten a lot stronger.

According to McGraw Hill Construction’s Harvey Bernstein, “It’s a business decision.” While the main reason for going green three years ago was to save the environment, the prevailing reason now is to improve health and productivity of the occupants, to lower operating costs, and to meet the demands of the market.

Another shift in attitude according to another report is the number of building owners applying for LEED certification—arguably the largest certification body on green construction. In a recent survey of corporate executives by Turner Construction, 90% were into green buildings for eco-friendliness, 84% were in it for lowering maintenance costs and 74% were primarily motivated for improvement of indoor air quality. And yet, the number of these executives looking to certify their projects with LEED is just 48%–in contrast to 2010’s 53% and 2008’s 61%.

This is because many construction firms and building owners no longer believe in the necessity of LEED. Citing the difficulty of the application process and the fact that the entire industry is starting to go green, the role of LEED in the industry may be shrinking.

Ironic as it may sound, LEED may be losing its relevance just when it starts to reach its goal—to increase the number of green buildings.

Building Owners Must Protect Themselves from Climate Change

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite image of Hurricane Sandy off the southeastern United States. Image Credit: Public domain NASA image courtesy LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

Canada’s current infrastructure faces a challenge similar to every other country: its roads, bridges, and public structures are slowly aging. But this is not the only problem Canada is facing.

According to President Michael Atkinson of the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), “That one in 100 year storm…it’s not coming one in 100 now, it’s one in every 50 and they’re more severe so as a result there’s been many more instances where weather has overpowered the existing infrastructure. Climate change adaptation. There’s no question that that will be a major theme of infrastructure strategy and planning in Canada going forward.”

President Atkinson’s thinking presents a point of view that most construction firms and countries refuse to face: that there is a need to adjust construction standards to ensure that they can withstand fortuitous events especially storms that wreak havoc much more often than they used to.

The CCA emphasized why a long-term infrastructure plan is of primary importance. According to the Municipal Infrastructure Forum in a press conference, they recently held, there is an urgent need for funding for long-term infrastructure once the Building Canada Plan reaches its expiry in 2014.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is a forum that started in February 2012. It was a partnership among key stakeholders and groups across Canada, to ensure that the right plan is produced for the country.

Robert Tremblay, the Insurance Bureau of Canada director of research said, “What we’ve seen over the past few years is disturbing trends in both wind and water damage. The fastest growing pressure on our infrastructure is the coming of flash rain, wind and ice storms.” He noted the estimated damage that is expected to be caused by Superstorm Sandy in insured losses: as much as $20 billion.

Homeowners and building owners must likewise take a step to protecting their buildings from climate change and other harsh weather elements. Is yours ready?