Friday, April 26, 2013

The Wonders of Steel as a Buliding Material

Close up of steel. Image Source: Public domain images.

As the green trend in construction continues, there is no place for construction materials that are not environmentally sustainable. While several materials have been ruled out as obsolete, one material stands the test of time: steel. With its many benefits, there is no doubt that steel will continue as one of the choice materials of construction firms like Norsteel in prefab buildings.  Here are the three top reasons why steel is healthy for the environment. 

1. Steel is recyclable
Steel remains to be a highly valued material because of its recyclability. Other building materials claim to be recyclable—but the difference between them and steel is that the latter won’t lose its performance or property value. Once the building is taken down, the steel can be used for a variety of other purposes. And yes, that includes making a new steel building. 

2. Steel is low-waste
Unlike other construction materials that generates too much waste and is therefore environmentally dangerous, steel generates almost no waste during the construction process. By the time the building is deconstructed, steel is often used for other purposes and is not dumped into the landfill. Steel also stands the test of natural calamities: unlike other materials that get easily swept by tornadoes and bad weather, steel will more likely survive.

3. Steel is energy-efficient
If the building owner wants to save energy in the long run, steel is also the best choice. Starting with the design process, the use of insulated panels can result in the decrease of heat going out of the interior while at the same time letting in as little cold as possible. Ultimately, this means that energy use in the building will be drastically lessened.
The use of metal roofs with cool coating will also reflect heat from the sun. This will regulate the amount of heat that goes inside the building, optimizing the air-conditioning.   

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 is an Important Year for the Construction Industry due to New Innnovations

Modular pre-fabricated Norsteel building. 
After being badly affected by the economic downturn, the construction industry is finally showing positive signs of growth. Thanks to innovations and hot trends in the construction sector, the industry’s growth is showing no signs of slowing down. Trends are stronger than ever, which is precisely why 2013 is an important game-changing year in the construction industry.  

One major reason behind the stable recovery rate of the industry is green construction. As industry experts continue to find ways to incorporate natural styles, elements, and features in construction design, the green construction continues to develop as a field.

One interesting trend this year is biomimicry, which takes natural patterns and incorporates them into architectural designs. This feature takes natural elements and integrates them not only in the external design or structures of the building but also in its interior. Lighting and ventilation are just two aspects where biomimicry is applied.

Biomimicry is not the only trend that is pushing the industry forward.  Prefabrication and modular design are also popular trends that supplement biomimicry in terms of environmental sustainability. Prefab construction takes a much shorter production cycle and has an enhanced sustainability approach. Because modular buildings take a much shorter time to construct, this is great news for clients: they will not have to spend as much time or energy to erect a building. And for tenants, this means lower rental rates. 

The design of modular buildings is also clean and crisp cut—an elegant time-tested design that will not grow old in the future. 

Other aspects of construction will likewise benefit from the popularity of green design. Take flooring and roofing for instance. Bamboo and stone are two of the several new elements that are becoming increasingly popular and are expected to be more present in even more architectural designs, replacing its more traditional counterparts.

Overall, the construction industry is pointing to a more eco-friendly approach that is financially viable for all stakeholders: construction companies, architectural firms, building owners, and leasees.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Three Easy Additions to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

Are you willing to make that huge step to living an eco-friendly life? It all starts with your home. In fact, new green home construction and technology has been growing leaps and bounds. Homeowners now realize the value of bringing the benefits of environmental construction to their home. It does not have to be expensive—in fact, you can be surprised what can create sustainable value for your home.

On the video for “Must Knows for Green Home Construction”, host Ted Brunson points out three under appreciated essentials in green construction: the drywall, fire sprinklers, and the building material.

The drywall vastly improves the indoor air quality and safety. For a while, the supply for drywall became scarce and you might be tempted to scrimp on the wallboard and get a cheaper source of material. However, not all wallboard are created equal—and you might want to research on the environmental benefits and the process that goes into the making of the wallboard you are planning to buy. 

You should also consider getting fire sprinklers for your home. Fire sprinklers might not sound like the first thing you would associate with environmental sustainability. But if you think about how often fires occur in your area, the carbon emissions, and all that water required to put out the fire, it becomes immediately clear that fire sprinklers are non-negotiable if you really care about the environment. 

The third essential in green construction is another unlikely candidate: soybeans. Believe it or not, soybeans can be used as material for environmentally healthy materials for your home in order to make urethane, a type of plastic that has several applications for your home needs. The above vide shows you how this is done. Another surprising benefit of the use of soybeans is that its urethane is bio-renewable—which means that no product goes to waste, and the same plastic can be used over and over again. 

So the next time you are looking for ways to make your home more eco-friendly, think outside the box. There are a surprising number of ways to make your home more green!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Green Building in Toronto

A company called MEC has opted for a green building in Toronto and have left their traditional building behind.  There new building consists of 55 % recycled content and is spacious with 42,000 square feet.  The recycled content includes recovered wood from MontrĂ©al’s Marconi building and also from the bottom of the Ottawa River.  When it comes to the Green Building Program, this building has become an important one in their system.  The move from a traditional building to a less energy-intensive one has not only made their building energy efficient but has made the other buildings more environmentally friendly as well.

The material used in the new green building is clay brick, concrete block, and natural stone facings were locally sourced to reduce energy consumption for transportation. This also decreases waste adding a long service life.  From the entry and skylight, reclaimed timber had been used. It was recovered from buildings.  In order to divert waste from landfills, the concrete used contains 50% blast furnace slag and 75% less energy to produce than the usual cement.  The building walls and roof are insulated using Rockwool which is made from fibres spun from melted minerals and bonded various binders. This has 50% recycled content.  They used maple flooring which came from a supplier certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and used ecologically and socio-economically sustainable harvesting.

A roof garden was placed on the roof and meadow plants, flowers and grasses were planted which do not require much watering.  These plants offset C02 generation and the soil helps insulate the building so it will reduce heat requirements.  Also installed were 1kW photo-voltaic electrical generation systems.  It is not a significant power source, but it raises awareness of renewable energy.  Skylights were placed and run the length of the building. This will reduce the need for energy-consuming artificial lighting. Energy efficient windows were also installed and are double glazed. A microscopic metallic coating on the glass surface reduces radiant heat transfer, which will save energy in air conditioning.  

Through low-flow, pressure-assisted toilets and faucets, water consumption is reduced.  Planters on the second story terrace are watered with an efficient subsurface drip system. Urban green areas are created by planting of street trees and captures water to reduce demand on urban infrastructures.
The building is created from 35% more energy efficiency than was required under the Model National Energy Code.  This makes the building much greener than it has to be, however it is great for our environment.  If you want to make your building greener, consider some small ways to improve it such as replacing windows, adding a roof garden or even solar roofing.  Small ways can improve your building like you won’t be able to imagine.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fireproofing your Metal Building

Metal tends to already have the strength and durability to survive in any type of disastrous weather or condition; however it’s still a good idea to have it prepped with proper materials to protect against fire.  Unprotected metal can loose up to 50 percent of its load-carrying capacity as the temperature raises to 1,200 F.  If you fire proof your steel building, you can be sure that they will help to protect your steel building by providing an hourly shield that will protect from fire impingement at certain intensity for a specific time.

There are numerous paints that can be put over the metal of your steel building   These are called Intumescent pains.  When exposed to paint, these paints will chemically react and expand to many times their original volume.  They will also get thicker.  When exposed to heat at about 300 F., which is just a little less than boiling water, there heat sensitive ingredients react and froth up into a foam which contains millions of tiny hollow cells.  When this happens, it’s basically providing an insulated coating that protects the metal and reduces the heat rate and will prolong load-bearing capacity.  These types of paints also produce a light which happens to be a poor conductor of heat. These materials contain hydrates, when they are spent, water vapour is released.  And this creates a cooling effect.  Once the water is spent, it’s only the char’s insulation characteristics that will then slow down heat transfer from assembly’s exposed side to the other unexposed side.  
to protect from fire.

Sprays for metal buildings to protect from fire have also become very popular.  Spray-Applied Fire Resistive Material also known as (SFRM) has gained in usage because of its inexpensive product.  The used to be named cementitious mixtures and has changed because it is no longer cement based. This paint should be applied to unprimed/unpainted substrates.  They tend to be low-density material and are supplied in bags and when missed with water is sprayed onto metal as a type of slurry.  It can be used externally and will cover complex details. 

Depending on how the spray or paint is applied, the fire resistant material all depends on the member size, fire severity, fire rating, duration of exposure, budget and location. When masking the product, make sure it is done on site.  Also, application may be require a professional as they do carry special tools to apply the paints.  When selecting a paint or spray, be sure to select it carefully in order to protect your structure and to comply with architectural, code and customer requirements.  Remember, you can also visit a manufacturer to get help on which type of pain is right for your building.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Biggest Green Event of the Year: National Conference and Expo

Canadian Green Building Council Banner. Image Credit: CGBC.

How serious are you about your commitment to environmental sustainability? If you are rather serious about it, you might want to take part in the upcoming National Conference and Expo by the Canada Green Building Council, this coming June 4 to 6, 2013. The event is touted as the largest green building event of the year, with expert speakers, networking events and speakers from all over the country.

The theme for this year’s expo is Building Lasting Change, focusing on how longevity can be achieved by buildings and communities across Canada. There will as many as 90 expert speakers, and a Master Speaker Series. There will be pre-conference mobile workshops before the official launch of the event, which will focus on sustainable sites built in Vancouver. Not only will the event give you inspiration about what you want your green building to look like, it will also equip you with what is currently the most valuable resource in the industry: insight.

Some of the highlights of the event are the following:

1.      Redesigning our Future Cities: Lesson from Europe

The event will address how cities in Europe are addressing the important issues of growing population, climate change, and economic growth. 

2.      Understanding the Costs and Benefits of Net Zero Design

Net zero buildings have been quite the buzzword in the construction industry. But what does it really involve? The session will cover statistical analyses and assessments of actual green projects involving the said design.

3.      Green Premium or Brown Discount: Sustainability and the Real Estate Professional
How is the green building trend affecting commercial real estate in residential, office, and industrial industries across Canada? This is a must-watch for real estate agents and professionals.

4.      An Equal Challenge: Bringing Healthy Materials to the Mainstream

The session will focus on the importance of transparency and healthy materials, and their role in the environmental movement. 

There are even more sessions that you can check out here.