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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.

Green Building for US Federal Construction Projects

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United States Department of the Treasury Washington, D.C. Image Credit: Florian Hirzinger via Wikipedia.

In 2009, President Obama spearheaded the movement to utilize green buildings for federal construction projects. This was a call not only to adjust to the nature’s demands but also to save energy and money. The initiative has since then inspired government agencies to take on different ways to obtain green designations, including using wind farms to generate energy, retrofitting courthouses, and using natural lighting and energy-conserving air-conditioning and heating systems.

One of the best recent examples of greening an old building is the US Treasury, which was built in 1836 and has recently been awarded the coveted LEED Gold certification after meeting several standards.

With its efforts, the US Treasury building has saved an estimated $3.5 million annually. The agency reported a 43% decrease in drinkable water use, a 7% decrease in the use of electricity, and an additional 164 work stations for more efficient use of space.

Some of the measures undertaken by the US Treasury that merited the Gold certification include:

  1. The use of natural daylight for decreased energy consumption
  2. The development of advanced heating ventilating and air conditioning systems
  3. The increase of occupant space utilization
  4. Proposing alternative means of transportation.

The federal government spends an estimated $7 billion a year on energy costs. By improving energy use and introducing energy efficiency measures, decreasing use of taxpayer money and increasing health of the workers in the building.

Currently, the General Services Administration (GSA) has a tool for identifying sustainability needs, the www.SFTool.gov, which allows the comparison of options for renovation projects. The site also allows the direct purchase of green building materials.

According to a study by the GSA of 22 green federal buildings, sustainably designed buildings outperformed commercial buildings in energy use. This definitely shows that commercial buildings have reason to ride the ‘green wave’—if only to increase their bottom line.

The Top Green Building Trends for 2013

Bullitt Center under construction. Image Credit: ecosid under CC-BY 2.0 via Flickr.

2013 is shaping to be another important and defining year for the green building industry. But how will green building expansion shape the year ahead? Jerry Yudelson, once called the godfather of green building, has a few interesting things to say about the 2013 in Sustainable Industries. Here are seven of the most interesting points:

  1. Green buildings will rebound strongly in the US. Although there had been a reduction in commercial real estate construction, there is growth in other sectors such as government construction.  According to him, LEED 2012 will pave the way for growth in Latin America, Middle East, and China.
  2. The focus of green buildings will be on greening existing buildings. The LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance is the fastest growing sector of the LEED—and it will continue to be such for 2013.
  3. There will be an increased awareness of a long recognized problem: the lack of fresh water supply. This will prompt building owners to decrease their water consumption and use onsite water technologies.
  4. Zero-net energy buildings will be a competitive advantage in the commercial and residential sectors. Currently, the largest zero-net energy building is the Bullitt Center in Seattle, which will open in 2013. Its performance will be closely monitored in the industry and will hopefully pave the way for the construction of similar establishments.
  5. The disclosure of performance to tenants and buyers will be more transparent—as people are demanding information on just how much green buildings can benefit them.
  6. Governments will continue to mandate green buildings not just for government buildings but also for private sector, providing incentives for its construction and inspired by the need to reduce carbon emission.
  7. The use of alternative energy will also be highlighted for 2013, particular solar energy. As support for wind systems by the government is waning, solar power will most likely grow and find their way into most homes.

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.

2012: The Year of Prefab

Sky City One Skyscraper. Image Credit: Broad Sustainable Building.

Sky City One Skyscraper. Image Credit: Broad Sustainable Building.

A few years ago, the construction industry was in the brink of the global economic downturn. Many wrote off prefab as having reached the end of its turn. Fast forward to today, prefab has never been bigger and better. This year, it has achieved not a few milestones—among which is solving housing problems with its low cost housing solution and affordable high-rise apartments.  With prefab at the forefront of the construction industry, there is no mistaking it: prefab is back.

1. The world’s tallest buildings are prefab

This year saw the rise of the tallest prefab buildings. A few notable ones are the 30-story hotel completed within fifteen days and the Sky City One in China. Not only are they the tallest buildings, they are also the fastest to be built!

2. Prefab solves the problems of site and community

Without realizing it, prefab construction has also solved another problem: the lack of low cost trailer parks. Prefab is responsible for rolling out a new breed of trailer parks for a low cost and for those without a lot of resources.

3. Prefab buildings make for great green buildings

Adding to the portfolio of why prefab buildings are great include its green benefits. Unlike buildings that claim to benefit the environment, the essential features of prefab buildings are a game-changer to the green building movement.

4. Prefab buildings have never been this affordable

If you have been planning to get a prefab building for whatever reason—whether as an office space, a business enterprise, or as a housing solution—the best time to do it is now. The costs of prefab buildings are at an all-time low, and you would be crazy not to get one before the prices jack up.

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.