Green building is becoming an increasingly popular movement within construction circles across the world and for good reason. The low impact, energy saving approach to construction is fast becoming a staple requirement for both commercial and residential property owners both locally and abroad. Developments like the new FNB building on the foreshore in Cape Town, Portside, which has been awarded a 5 star energy rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa, are growing in popularity not only because of their environmentally friendly design but also because its possible to match style with sustainability.
Here are a few of the green building trends for 2015:
The Use of Sustainable Building Materials
The construction of buildings consumes large volumes of resources, which is why integrating biodegradable, recycled and sustainable materials makes a big difference.
Biodegradable materials such as natural paints, eliminate indoor pollution and decompose naturally without contaminating the earth.
Green construction materials are also great alternatives to prevent exhausting already depleted natural resources. Take, for example, steel beams that are made from recycled metal. Aside from eliminating the need to use trees for beams, recycled steel offers more resistance to severe weather conditions.
Cross Ventilation in Green Architecture
In some cases, simply adjusting a building’s design can save on energy use and benefit occupants by taking advantage of on-site light and air. One of the growing trends for use in high-rise flats is Lumiventt Technology. This green architecture design allows the free flow of natural light and air into the building by incorporating a three-story high garden atria every five floors that vents at both sides of the building, facilitating the natural flow of air within a building.
Zero energy buildings are specially designed and engineered to rely on renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, allowing them to operate off the grid.
A zero-energy design utilizes solar cells and panels, wind turbines, and biofuels, among others, to provide for the building’s electricity and HVAC needs. While zero-energy buildings are more expensive upfront, the long-term benefits of energy-saving and sustainable business practices are encouraging more developers to follow this direction.
Water reuse and supply technologies
With buildings using about 14% of all potable water on earth, every year, systems designed for water efficiency are targeted to lower water usage by about 15 %. Just as with net-zero energy buildings, there is growing innovation around the development of net-zero water use buildings. These include water-conservation fixtures to efficiently manage water consumption, rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse to make use of recycled water, and on-site sewage treatment to remove contaminants from wastewater.
Low-energy windows and smart glass
New materials are developed as smart, sustainable upgrades of traditional materials, as they effectively interact with the natural elements. A green version of windows, known as low-energy windows, are coated with metallic oxide to block the sun’s harsh rays during summer and keep the heat inside in the winter. This has a profound impact on the necessity of air-conditioning which in turn lowers the electricity usage.
A more advanced version of these windows, which has yet to be widely and commercially available, is ‘smart glass’, also known as electrochromic glass. Using a small amount of electricity, the smart glass charges ions to control the amount of light it reflects. In effect, this glass tints during the sun’s peak hours and returns to transparent at night.