Thursday, August 29, 2013

Green Construction Materials Become More Affordable as Demand Increases

As green construction is on the rise, so is the global demand for green construction materials. A report by Navigant Research shows that the market for green construction materials will grow to $116 billion this year. By 2020, it will be greater than $254 billion, with Europe accounting for 50% of the market.

Today, more governments are subsidizing efficient buildings and building codes. Realizing the benefits of green construction, virtually every building wants to get certified.
New advancements in terms of techniques and energy savings have also been discovered, while traditional materials that are good for the environment are now in demand. Timber structures, steel, lime renders and mortars, cellulose insulation, fiber floor coverings, prefabricated materials, and natural mineral are re-emerging and finding relevance in modern construction.

Advanced production technology has also resulted in the rise of new green building materials, particularly in the fields of photovoltaics, heat exchange systems, thermochromic and electrochromic glass and window. These innovations, along with the re-emergence of traditional eco-building materials,  have made green construction a lot more affordable. 

Governments are also zooming in on green construction. Finland recently put into effect stricter standards for sustainable construction and energy efficiency, which must be complied with by new buildings and renovation projects. Some countries have realized the value of green construction far earlier like Germany, which has subsidized green buildings as far back as 1980s. 

In the US, green construction is also taken seriously. Several government buildings across the country are being retrofitted, with most of its occupants reporting a better disposition and attitude towards work. Even the private sector recognizes the value of green construction,  as venture capitalists have invested around $465 million all in all—just for the first nine months of 2009. Hotel owners have also taken the lead, as 48% reported that they are “highly involved” in the matter of green construction.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summit on Green Building & Human Health: Wrap Up

The Summit on Green Building & Human Health, a two years’ worth of effort of consultative planning, finally discussed a focal point in modern construction: how to use green construction to positively impact human health and transform the market.

Although many building owners are convinced about the merits of green buildings, not all the players were quite involved in green construction. Architects, insurers, and product manufacturers weren’t actively engaging the matter of green construction. 

In order to support a nationwide campaign for green building and human health, there’s a need to shift the conversation from primarily physical structures to people and neighborhoods. The movement must focus on specific types of buildings where people need green buildings most: schools, homes, and hospitals to name a few.

Additional research is also a pressing concern. There ought to be more examples of healthy environments that work and with applications that have been proven to work for future projects. Digital technology can go a long way in helping integrate solutions that can be implemented immediately.

There are also a lot of misconceptions about sustainability. During the Summit, the definition of Professor David Orr was considered compelling:

“The standard for ecological design is neither efficiency nor productivity but health, beginning with that of the soil and extending upward through plants, animals and people. It is impossible to  impair health at any level without affecting it at other levels.”

The definition centralizes on the importance of human health and positive emotional well-being. It’s about time that building design is made with the understanding of human condition in mind. It also focuses on the important of a built environment, with some successful examples cited in the conference: the California Indoor Air Quality Standard, LEED, Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, and Health Product Declaration. These should be used to monitor green building systems and help consumers decide which tools best suit their needs.