The 21st century has seen countless greening trends across the construction industry. With the world’s population scrutinizing the ecological impact of today’s building operations more than ever before, it’s safe to say we’ll continue to see new and even existing trends applied to modern structures for years to come.
Green and Environmental Certifications
A relatively new concept, the process of ensuring and certifying green construction was introduced into the United States through the U.S. Green Building Council, or USGBC. Its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED certification system, has since become the benchmark for measuring one’s compliance with modern greening standards.
LEED isn’t the only certification in place within the U.S. or around the world, but with nearly 16 billion square feet of commercial space its inspected and certified, it is the most prolific. Green building codes, which are seeing an increased usage across the globe, are federally mandated guidelines that builders most follow when designing and erecting new structures or renovating older ones.
Another hot topic in 2017 is the issue of water conservation. The EPA provides numerous tips to help homeowners and builders cut water usage within homes and commercial buildings, even going so far as to sponsor the WaterSense program.
The traditional methods of water conservation still hold true, but they can be used in tandem with the newest ideas and concepts when trying to save water around the home or office.
Buildings that don’t require any outside energy don’t have to place such an emphasis on their own sustainability. It’s important to note that this doesn’t technically mean a structure isn’t using any energy. A zero-net-energy building is, in its simplest form, a structure that generates enough electricity to meet its own needs.
This is one of the most recent trends in green construction as a whole.They are particularly popular throughout most of the United States and certain parts of Canada. Although its growth is being hampered due to complications associated with the process of designing and erecting such a structure, it’s a trend that will likely continue in 2017.
Widespread Usage of Green Building Materials
Green building materials continue to increase in numbers in both new construction projects and building restorations. While the United States sees its fair share of such projects, countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Colombia are among some of the leaders when it comes to embracing the latest in green building materials and technology.
Metal roofing, which is commonly used in the U.S., has a number of benefits. The inherent cooling properties of the metal itself is enough to supplement the energy efficiency of almost any home or building, and most rely on large amounts of recycled materials for their construction.
Solar power has been one of the most recognizable and accessible trends in green construction for quite some time. Although it predates many of the other greening methods around, the niche is still indevelopment and refining use in commercial, industrial and residential applications.
There are several breakthroughs to keep an eye on in 2017. Between China’s growing role in the solar energy sector and the recent agreement at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, solar power is set to take the international spotlight in the upcoming weeks and months.
Increased Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency is likely to experience some growth and improvement during 2017. On a federal level, President Obama’sproposed budget for energy efficiency and renewable energy for the fiscal year 2017 is looking at nearly $8 billion to advance research in clean energy via 12 separate federal agencies. The Department of Energy’s budget will also increase 10 percent in comparison to 2016.
Construction companies can take advantage of trends in localized energy generation and storage when trying to reduce their carbon footprint as well as the environmental impact of their projects. As batteries and related hardware for such systems continue to decline, more builders are seeing the benefit in creating and maintaining their own jobsite power grids.
Big Data Analytics and Greening
Recent advancements in big data analytics will also have an impact on upcoming greening trends. Modern solutions like Google’s Earth Engine are already in use to collect, collate and process enormous datasets for use in environmental sustainability and preservation.
Given the growing concerns over information security, data confidentiality and user privacy, we’re likely to see a greater emphasis toward IT systems that are able to counteract and prevent hackers, identity thieves and other inbound threats.
Overcoming the Uncertainty of 2017
Despite the latest breakthroughs, there is still some amount of uncertainty surrounding green building in 2017 and beyond. Mounting political tension, growing concerns about the world’s economy and an unstable real estate market all affect the spending habits of global investors and builders. However, those who are able to overcome such issues while staying true to their commitment to greening are bound to see success in 2017 and beyond.