Posts Tagged 'sustainability'

New York Embraces Pre-Fab Construction

Prefabricated Inwood Box Building. Image Credit: Peter Gluck & Partners.

Prefabricated Inwood Box Building. Image Credit: Peter Gluck & Partners.

The popularity of pre-fab construction is catching on in many places—and one of them is no less than what is probably one of the busiest and most populous cities in the world: New York City.

On Broadway Street, there currently is a vacant lot that is hardly recognizable and nothing more than a pile of rocks. In a matter of weeks though, it will be transformed into an apartment building—with seven stories, ten terraces, and fully furnished units, thanks to prefabricated construction methods. Called in the Inwood Project, the apartment costs $13 million and will consist of a combination of 28 apartments. And the best part, which will probably appeal most to New Yorkers, is its 28% lower rental rate than the average. The building will be called Broadway Stack, to pay its respect to its innovative form of architecture. The project will wrap up in 9 months—as opposed to the traditional 16 to 18 months of on-site construction. This also means lowered construction costs by as much as 10 to 20%.

Last year also saw the announcement of the construction of the first residential tower in Brooklyn. On top of that, New York also won the Micro Unit Apartment Building Design Contest, and fittingly chose modular design as its construction of choice.

The negative connotations New Yorkers have with prefab construction are quickly going away. It used to be equated with low-cost housing and mobile homes, but prefab is proving to be more than that. Perceptions are quickly changing, inasmuch as prefab has shown itself capable of coming up with fully functional and aesthetically pleasing designs.

That pre-fab construction is becoming popular in New York just shows how flexible pre-fab buildings are. Now that New York is following suit, it will not be a surprise if every other highly urbanized city focuses on modular construction as well.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.