“Green buildings” are structures that comply with sustainable practices throughout their life cycle – from construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition. Though perhaps born in the energy crisis of the 1970’s, the green construction idea has found new urgency recently in relation to climate issues. Gaining more popularity, it is a now a key element in social measures that aim to lessen carbon footprints.
Green buildings use less water, generate energy savings, conserve natural resources, produce less waste and offer healthier spaces for its tenants, far from a conventional building’s features. Generally, they are designed to ease the sore impacts of the infrastructure both on human health and the environment.
More and more stakeholders are getting attracted to the concepts and practices of green buildings, and this has led to the creation of standards, codes and rating schemes by several organizations across different countries. These aid government regulators, developers and consumers in constructing green buildings with assurance.
Green building rating tools such as the United States’ Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; the United Kingdom’s Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method; Japan’s Comprehensive Assessment System for Built Environment Efficiency; and Malaysia’s Green Building Index, among others, help users find out how green a building is.
They recognize and credit buildings that observe green design in categories like location and site maintenance, water conservation, energy efficiency, building materials sustainability and even occupants’ comfort and health. The number of credits given generally indicates to what level a building achieves its set goals.
The LEED standard of the United States Green Building Council is touted as the most prominent of the green building rating schemes and even as having spearheaded the “modern green building movement,” according to the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, a green industry advocate.
The race to green the buildings
In the race to develop “greener” buildings, countries are taking their concrete steps to be successful.
In the United States, President Barrack Obama took the move to the national level by issuing a memorandum in 2011 that urged all commercial buildings to be at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020. The president pledged to invest $4 billion to pave the way for energy upgrades in both federal and private buildings through the Better Buildings Challenge.
Among those that took the challenge was the iconic 81-year-old Empire State. Its ongoing retrofit is said to be the largest of its kind to date in the country, expected to significantly cut emissions by 105,000 metric tons over the next 15 years and reduce energy use by over $4.4 million every year. Overhaul plans for the 102 storey-skyscraper include upgrades of its 6,500 windows, new heating and cooling systems that automatically adapt to the temperature, insulation of the building space, improvement of its existing control system and installation of Internet-based system for occupants’ energy monitoring.
In Asia, countries are also working hard to keep up. China, which rivals the United States in the amount of emissions it sends to the atmosphere, is overhauling the architecture of its buildings. The 128-storey Shanghai Tower, when completed in 2014, will not only stand to be the tallest building but significantly will benchmark the green revolution in the country. It features wind turbines, a complex rainwater collection system, two envelope layers that wrap nine interior sky gardens and an ingenious design that will ease lateral loads from wind and reduces the necessary structural steel by over 20 percent.
India, on the other hand, has been vocal about its intentions to become one of the global leaders in green buildings by 2015. It has been making intensive efforts in greening the buildings across the country – ranging from home projects, factory buildings and LEED-certified buildings in India. To date, the Indian Green Building Scorecard shows that there are about 267 certified sustainable buildings existing, including some hotels, shopping centers, office spaces and state infrastructure such as the Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal 3.
Net-Zero Buildings: The next big thing in green construction
No doubt, green buildings are booming, as venture capitalists generously invested over $4 billion on them since 2000, another report by Lux Research showed.
The study also found out that the first wave of green building start-ups has reached its maturity, and now these investors want something new and better technologies that will further improve green buildings.
“Early VC investors are looking for exits for the first wave of successful green buildings start-ups and the seeds of the next crop are being sown in on-site generation and sustainable materials,” said Ryan Castilloux, Lux Research analyst.
(Excerpt of article by EcoSeed. NOT AFFILIATED WITH LAMBOO)
In this new era of green construction the industry will have to search and develop innovative practices and materials to replace traditional forms that are no longer sustainable. Bamboo is a example of one of these new ultra renewable resources that will be looked towards to meet the burden of demand in our expanding society.
Bamboo as a resource is unmatched in its potential as a environmentally friendly structurally stable renewable building material. Bamboo produces 30% more oxygen and sequesters 35% more carbon than a like sized timber forest area. With a growth rate of 6-8 years to maturity (compared to timber 25-50) and root structure that eliminates the need for replanting bamboo can be produced on a large scale with much more ease than timber forests cutting costs and limiting energy consumption. Learn more about the amazing attributes of bamboo here.
Additionally incorporating Lamboo (LVB) laminated veneer bamboo into projects can earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification under MR Credit 6 – Rapidly renewable materials, IEQ Credit 4.4 – Low-emitting materials; ID Credit 1 – Innovation in Design (Environmentally Preferable Material), and ID Credit 2 – Innovation in Design (Life Cycle Assessment / Environmental Impact).
*Please refer to USGBC for information regarding project requirements
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Blog by: Dustin Dennison