Posts Tagged 'Green Building'

4 Reasons Why 2013 is the Best Year for You to Construct a Green Building

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Insulation inside a Norsteel building. Image Credit: Norsteel.

If you have not yet joined the rest of the world in putting up a green building, you can make that big step this year. There are four reasons why you should finally shift to erecting a green building this year:

1. The extra costs are worth it.
Sure, the construction phase of a green building might cost a little more than a site-built building. But in the long run, the operational and maintenance costs of a green building are significantly less than a regular building. Since a green building consumes less energy when heating and cooling, you do not have to worry as much about electricity expenses. Also, a green building requires less repair and servicing expenses.

2. You can green your existing building.
You do not have to go as far as bring down your entire building just to have a green building. Greening existing buildings has never been easier. In fact, LEED created a new category for it: the LEED for Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance (LEED O+M). This is also the fastest growing category in the LEED Rating System.

3. There is an increasing number of new products for your green building.
Gone are the days when looking for materials for a green building that will require you to import from other countries or compete with other building owners for their limited supply. This year is marked by innovations in facility management, wireless control, building automation, and other new engineering materials that will make it virtually effortless to procure products for your green building. For example, Norsteel can help you green your building through accessories such as insulation to conserve heat.

4. Your government will most likely give you incentives.
If your government does not give you incentives for green buildings just yet, expect your lawmakers to have on their agenda. For example, under the administration of United States President re-elect Barack Obama, green buildings are given several tax incentives and credits which have encouraged building owners to make the shift. Many other countries have also followed suit.

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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.

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.

Tallest Prefab Building to be Erected in NYC on December 18, 2012

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Prefab Towers. Image Credit: SHoP Architects.

Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yard Site is in for a record-breaker, as Forest City Ratner will set up what will be the world’s tallest prefabricated building, as of December 18 at least. The 32-story residential building will be done by the aforementioned date, and will be the first of 15 prefab buildings to be built in the area.

Forest City Ratner will utilize the technology of modular construction, where sections of the building are made separately before being assembled and put together to complete the 32-story structure.

Prefabricated buildings are the latest in the construction industry, and at the forefront of this innovation are industry leaders like Norsteel, whose expertise in putting up prefab has made it one of the leaders in the prefab construction industry in Canada.

With modular construction, prefab buildings can be put up in record time, with quality that is as laudable, if not even better than traditional buildings. Moreover, prefab buildings make use of steel—a material that is not only environmentally friendly but also beneficial to building occupants.  The costs of putting up a prefab building are also much lower than traditional buildings—due to the minimized time and construction costs.

The record for the tallest prefabricated building is currently held by a building in Britain—a 25-story tower, which is only 7 stories short of the incoming record holder.

This building, however, will probably not enjoy its status as the tallest prefab building for long, as other prefab buildings much taller than this one are about to be put up, including a Chinese firm that will put up what is claimed to be the tallest prefab building in a record of 90 days.

Companies Encourage Green Building, but not LEED Certification

1225 Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., is the first redeveloped office building on the East Coast to receive LEED Platinum status. Image Source: Wikipedia.

With the construction industry setting goals and preparing plans for 2013, corporations and their executives are figuring out how to integrate sustainable building practices into their construction projects. A recent survey conducted by an NY-based construction firm, Turner Construction Co., looked at the motives for green buildings as well as the future plans of various companies. Conducted just last October, the survey was conducted among 718 executives and focused on emerging trends in green buildings.

One key finding is that companies still see the value in green buildings and continue to commit to planning and construction a green building for their organization. In fact, 90% of respondents said that they will continue to commit to sustainable green building practices. They say that green buildings pay off in terms of cost savings, brand impact, customer requirements, and simply because it’s the right thing to do.

However, the number of companies that are gunning for LEED certification has significantly dropped, with only 48% of the respondents planning to apply for LEED certification. The highest was at 61% in 2008 and 53% in 2010.

What is the primary reason for company executives’ seeming loss of interest in seeking certification? Several factors were cited, among which were the cost of the entire certification processes, labour and the general difficulty of the process.

With the introduction of LEED 4.0, the costs of the entire process will be even more expensive. The documentation requirements are indeed rigid and time-consuming. The entire procedure requires the expenditure of capital that could otherwise be used for improving the green building.

As for contractors who want to get certified, there is a recent technology that might prove to be helpful in the certification process: the LEED automation program, which integrates third-party technology platforms with LEED Online. But the question remains: is automation a solution that can cure all the aforementioned problems in the LEED certification process?