Posts Tagged 'green construction.'

4 Influential Technologies in Green Construction

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Norsteel Roof.

This year is clearly the best time to seriously consider green construction for your home. With tax breaks, lowered electricity costs, and an overall better indoor quality, there is every reason to favour of green construction. But the question is: how should you start? Here are four of the most important technologies in green construction today.

Cool roofs

Cool roofs serve the purpose of reflecting the sun’s rays and prevent them from reaching inside the building. In addition, it prevents the cool or warm air from inside the building from escaping through the roof. The reflecting surface of the cool roof (like the shell of a Norsteel Building) can cut down the intensity of the temperature from the outside by as much as 50 degrees.

But more importantly, cool roofs can save heating and cooling costs

Storm Water Management

Another innovation in green construction, storm water management directs water runoff into a plants and soil that would not only absorb but also purify the storm water.

Solar Power

Gone are the days when huge solar panels are required to generate this nonrenewable source of energy. Today, there are passive solar power sources that are capable of generating solar energy by strategically placing the solar home design in the windows. With this, solar energy is absorbed into the house to warm the home.

An active solar source, on the other hand, absorbs the sun’s radiation and transform it for electricity consumption or to warm water/air.

Smart Appliances

Appliances have never been smarter—you can save a lot of energy with electricity-saving refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers that are capable of delivering real-time data on power use. This function allows the appliance to adjust and optimize its operations to utilize as little electricity as possible.

Some even have computer systems integrated in them—an LG refrigerator, for instance, is capable of making an inventory of the refrigerated food to take note of expiration dates. With features like this, you can maximize the space inside the refrigerator and ultimately save on electricity costs.

Zero Energy Home

Without a doubt, the zero energy home is the ideal in green construction. The essence of net zero homes is its self-sustaining capability; it has renewable energy sources built into it, allowing the house to power itself.

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UK Government Contributes £1M to the Green Construction Industry

The Green Construction Board of the UK has just secured £1 million dollars in funding after an announcement by the Business Minister Mark Prisk May 14, 2012. The amount will serve as an investment to further the joint efforts of both the government and the construction industry to promote the growing sustainable construction sector.

According to Prisk, the government’s investment will maximize the opportunities for UK construction in sustainable development.

“This money will enable the board to take forward a large programme of activities through the voluntary contributions of many people from the industry, who are keen to engage with us regularly to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. This additional funding will be used to get even more value from those contributions by supporting particular tasks, to ensure that they are delivered more quickly, or in more depth, than would otherwise be the case,” Prisk further explains.

The Green Construction Board itself was established just recently in November, in pursuit of the Low Carbon Construction Plan. This plan was  made in an effort to de-carbonise existing construction in the country, by focusing on the property and infrastructure sectors.

The GCB may be relatively young, but it has achieved several milestones over its few months of existence. One is the establishment of seven working groups, with 160 representatives from the Government and the construction industry. These working groups have the common goal of delivering a comprehensive activity program.

Another accomplishment of the GCB is the establishment of a ‘Routemap’ for the industry, for the next few decades until 2050. The board pioneered the ‘knowledge database’ for the research of low carbon structures.

Lastly, the GCB was able to integrate the accomplishments of the Sustainable Construction Task Force, the organization in charge before GCB came to life.

This improvement just goes to show how serious the UK is terms of investing in green and sustainable construction. Soon we’ll be hearing great things about UK’s green construction industry.

Report Outlines Green Incentives for Building Owners and Governments

Source: Norsteel Building.

The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently published a report entitled Green Building Incentive Trends: Strengthening Communities, Building Green Economies. The guidebook outlines the steps local governments have to make in order to further the construction of green buildings. The primary thrust of the guidebook is to recommend “green incentives” that will inspire construction firms and building owners to invest more on green buildings.

For the private sector, the report indicates that among the best incentives are density bonuses, tax breaks, and expedited permitting. Density bonuses and tax breaks provide a direct financial incentive to companies putting up green businesses.

When a building owner has a positive green building rating, they are allowed higher densities, more floor/area ratio and increases in height. Tax breaks are given to building owners as long as they conform to certain government-approved green construction practices. In addition to this, expedited permitting means that companies can speed up the process of putting up their own building as well as getting around certain rules without unnecessary interference from the government.

However, local governments should by no means impose green incentives excessively as it is costly to grant developer bonuses. While green building does benefit everyone in the long run, incentives should be given depending on the financial situation and the projected impact to the building industry.  Governments must have a sustainable economic plan in order to strategically motivate the construction of green buildings.

The most important factor for an effective policy related to green construction is to make it simple to the public and easy to implement. To avoid confusions and unnecessary delay, the policy must clearly present the direct benefits to building owners.

The report comes at a time when green construction is at its peak and local governments can give enough encouragement for building owners to step up to the challenge.

Norsteel is the kind of building company that can help to facilitate the green building process. Talk to us about an environmentally sound pre-fabricated steel building.

Recent Trends in Sustainable and Green Buildings

Green Building Fund Logo. Image Credit: Clean Business Australia initiative, by the Federal Government of Australia.

2011 was crucial for green construction, as it saw the highest rise in green construction yet! The message of green construction was highly advertised and acted upon not only by commercial building owners but by residential owners as well. So what trends in 2011 will likely continue into 2012? And what lessons can we learn from them?

Prefabrication and refurbishment

Putting up a new green building in place of the old one is definitely a sustainable option for building owners who are looking into going green. Yet, in addition to this, many have opted to go beyond the call of duty to purchase prefab steel buildings or refurbish their existing buildings to fit green standards.

Fuel switching

Another major trend is to shift from using fuel oil to natural gas, thereby significantly reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the rate of ROI. The amount of money spent on natural gas can be earned back in at least two years. After then, the use of natural oil will essentially pay for itself.

Performance and design

Gone are the days when a compromise between performance and design had to be made. Achieving both is a definite possibility. Another important aspect of this trend is that living up to the advertisements must be done. While there are several buildings that claim to reduce carbon emissions and save energy in a certain period of time, very few live up to their word. Unlike Norsteel, who is committed to green buildings, these construction firms are facing  definite sanctions.

Government construction

Various governments have started to take the lead on green construction as many have put funds together to create new government buildings incorporating green building technologies and creating policies and subsidies to encourage green construction.  This goes to show how serious governments are about green construction.

Green Parking Solutions to Complement your Green Building

Reserved Parking for Hybrid Vehicles. Image Credit: Trendhunter.

Having a green prefab steel building is nice, but you do not want to forget other aspects of green construction that are just as important in pursuing environmental awareness. The last thing you want is to have a green building that saves electricity and water costs but is offset by other aspects of your construction—like parking. Norsteel is a fierce advocate of green construction that helps you lessen your utility costs and promoting environmentalism.

Green and environmentally friendly parking solutions are one of the ways by which you can make your green building more sustainable. The International Parking Institute (IPI) recently published the Framework on Sustainability for Parking Design, Management and Operations—a framework that establishes how to provide sustainable parking solutions to its members.

The IPI, with a goal of reflecting balance between the reduction of adverse environmental impacts and societal health and welfare, advocates alternative energy sources and reduced reliance on fossil fuels. It also suggests a variety of multi-modal transportation options and effective natural resource management. Waste reduction strategies when it comes to parking and transportation are also highlighted in its report.

One particular trend that the report highlighted on is the use of electric charging stations in parking spaces. Because of the rise of hybrid vehicles, owners are in constant need of charging stations that are unfortunately often located too far in between.

In its report, IPI has several options that will allow commercial real estate businessmen to accommodate electric and hybrid vehicle charging stations in its parking spaces. This is especially important for major industries such as retail, hotel and multifamily businesses.

Parking solutions may sound insignificant and inconsequential, but it is actually a matter that can help create a more sustainable way of living. This is a point that we, at Norsteel understand, as we believe that green construction must take into account all aspects of sustainability and reduction of environmental impact.

A US National Green Building Code is Underway

Green Building. Image Source: Public domain.

A sign that a country is taking sustainable and green construction seriously is if it starts creating legal documents to further its cause. Such is the effort of the International Green Construction Code, which has recently approved a National Green Building Code in the US after two years of research and development. It will apply to all commercial and residential buildings, whether new or renovated, that are at least three stories high.

The National Green Building Code is the first comprehensive law on green construction in the US and covers all key aspects of architectural design, construction, energy use, water efficiency, waste management, and site aspect among others. The Code represents a serious shift in construction standards toward energy conservation and green construction.

While most local governments and states have already expressed their willingness to adopt the code and have in fact done so, it will not be officially published until March 2012.

Construction designers and construction companies are bound to ask: how does the National Green Building Code differ from the LEED? One significant difference is that LEED is voluntary. While a lot of buildings are constructed in consonance with LEED standards, many buildings don’t.

The new code, on the other hand, has mandatory “floors” standards that must be reached by every residential and commercial building that qualifies. LEED and the code don’t have to clash though. By setting “floors”, LEED can set higher standards that will eventually result in buildings being rewarded for exceeding the minimum standards raised by the National Green Building Code. While the code sets the minimum, the LEED represents the ideal.

Among the mandatory requirements of the national code are the disqualifications of the use of greenfields or undeveloped lands for infrastructure, subject to certain exceptions. In terms of materials, 55% of materials must be based on recycled, recyclable, bio-based, or salvaged content. The building must also have a lifespan of at least 6 years. In terms of energy and water efficiency, there are standards for lighting, sub-metering, mechanical systems, demand-response automation, rainwater storage, and graywater systems. There are also elective choices, at least one of which must be chosen by the green building.

Police Headquarters in Aurora, IL Achieves LEED Gold Certification

Aurora Police Headquarters. Image Credit: Cordogan, Clark and Associates.

The City of Aurora in Illinois has been awarded LEED Gold certification for the green construction of its new Police Headquarters and Branch Court facility.

“The new Police Headquarters was not only built to enhance police operations and safety, but also to be one of the most environmentally-sound municipal buildings in the country,” Mayor Tom Weisner told the Trib Local, an Auroa-based publication. “Earning the prestigious LEED Gold certification is another mark of distinction recognizing Aurora’s leadership in sustainability initiatives.”

The police facility was able to earn LEED certification by utilizing incorporating a variety of earth-friendly energy, lighting, water and material strategies.  In addition to conserving resources, the new building will be using substantially less water and energy, thereby helping to save taxpayer’s money and creating a healthier environment for Aurora residents.

Construction on the Police Department and Branch Court facility was completed in late 2009. The 154,000-squre-foot facility uses 27 % less energy and 30 percent less water than a non-LEED certified building of the same parameters.  The massive campus also houses a 200,000-square-foot parking deck and 42,000-square-foot training building, in addition to 911 services, administrative offices, a records division and county court.

Other notables, according to the Trib Local include:

• Permeable pavers in the main parking lot that absorb storm-water runoff and are light in color so they do not reflect as much heat back into the building, which reduces cooling costs;
• Vegetated bioswales – as opposed to storm sewers – to carry water runoff into a 3.7 acre retention pond, which reduces the impact on Aurora’s municipal sewer system;
• “Daylight harvesting” elements that maximize natural light;
• Recycled content in drywall, steel and concrete; and
• Photovoltaic panels for solar power generation.

The stunning building isn’t only earth-friendly; It’s also equipped with state-of-the-art policing equipment.  It’s also the largest, full-service police station built in the United States.

To take a more in-depth look at this groundbreaking building, check out this YouTube video.