Friday, December 27, 2013

What is a green building? Pt. 1

The concept of a green building has been thrown around a lot this year. But don’t you think it’s odd that nobody has bothered to define precisely what it is?

Why are green buildings revolutionary in the construction industry? What is a green building, and what is it supposed to do? A green building in the truest sense is constructed and operates under the principles of environmental sustainability. From the practices involved to the materials used, a green building must use the latest green technologies and must not unduly disrupt land, water, and energy resources. 

Deciding to have a green building is a serious—and commendable—decision. Here are a few steps that will help you through the process.

1. Set your green goals and objectives.

Before getting yourself involved in the green design process, you have to sit down with the construction firm, architect, or engineer, and talk about what you want for the green building. Is it energy efficiency, water conservation, material and resource management? Whatever the goals are, you have to make clear that someone in the team must be responsible for them.

2. The project must be backed by a highly focused and talented green team.

A green building requires the commitment and involvement of a team, composed of professionals who are 100% committed to your goals. The design team must have architects, engineering consultants, and designers who have collective knowledge, dedication, and experience in their respective crafts and specifically green buildings. The members must participate in the goal-setting session and must be on the same page as everyone else.

3. The design process must be integrative.

Designing a green building is not a matter of merely putting together the latest green building technologies. Instead, each element must be part of a bigger picture. There must be a complete balance of the elements and systems, making sure that every part is interrelated to the other.
These are three of the things you need to do to set the foreground for a green building. In the next part, we at Norsteel will talk about the five elements that must be present in a green building.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Why Prefab Construction Should Be Your Choice this 2014

For the longest time, industry experts have been calling modular construction as the next big thing in the real estate industry. While modular buildings have definitely have undergone serious growth so far, this 2014, with the green revolution at an all time-high, may just be the best time for prefab buildings. According to the US Census Bureau, around 5% of all new homes built in 2010 were modular buildings. With companies and building owners realizing its many benefits, 2014 will be the year that modular construction makes its mark.

1.    Modular buildings are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
Rarely anything gets wasted in modular construction. For one the strips of sheetrock are used for the reinforcement of the seams of walls. The leftover lumber, on the other hand, are re-cut and recycled—some of them are given to local formers to be used as animal bedding. 

2.    Prefab construction is easy to replicate and efficient to construct. 
If its environmental benefits are not enough to convince you, consider the economic efficiency of modular buildings. Because the process of constructing modular buildings is precise, it can easily be replicated. This results in buildings that are around 5 to 20 per cent less expensive. These savings ultimately go to integrating energy-saving, water-conserving, and energy-producing technologies. 

3.    Modular construction results in highly trained workers. 
Supporting modular construction also means supporting an industry which trains people to become highly specialized in particular tasks. Each worker in the prefab construction process has a defined role: from having someone who’s an expert in sealing and insulating to having a dedicated sales staff that knows about the different sustainability features in a modular home. Because modular buildings are created in a factory and not on-site, builders are given assignments based on what they’re good at and are forced to specialize. Compare that to on-site construction, where builders work on the job they’re given, regardless of whether they’ve done the task before or not. 

These are just three of the major reasons why modular buildings are slowly becoming the top choice of building owners. As the happy clients of Norsteel would say, the quality of work is simply unparalleled.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Smart Growth: One of the most influential green movements in Canada

Is it possible to enhance your quality of life, without endangering the environment and spending too much money? These are the goals behind the Smart Growth movement, which are essentially a set of land use and development principles that aim to ensure fiscal, environmental, and social responsibility. Among its priorities are infill, green space protection, and redevelopment. 

How did Smart Growth BC begin?

It was initially a joint project between the University of Victoria Eco-Research Chair of Environmental Law and Policy and West Coast Environmental Law Association. It was incorporated as a non-profit organization in December 1999, until it was acquired by the Canada Green Building Council in order to ensure its continuing legacy. 

What are the principles behind Smart Growth?

Smart Growth is driven by certain principles, and if your company believes in urban development practices that will help conserve environmental resources, then you should by all means adopt the following:

1.    Use land for different purposes. Neighbourhoods must make it a point to put up facilities for retail, business, and recreational purposes; this way, residents don’t have to go far to experience the same.

2.    Neighbourhoods must be well-designed and compact. Opportunities for working, shopping, playing and living must be within close proximity and accessibly by viable transit options.
3.    Different transportation choices must be provided. Roads must be designed in such a way that people can safely walk and cycle to their destination.

4.    Diversify housing opportunities. There must be different housing types to create varied opportunities for a wide range of family types and income levels.

5.    Encourage upscaling and growth in neighbourhoods. Investments in existing buildings and roads must be highly encouraged, instead of taking up new lands.

6.    Open spaces and environmentally sensitive areas must be preserved. As much as possible, developments must pay respect to these areas.

7.    Protect agricultural lands. Ultimately, these are the areas that will provide for food security and employment. With the ever-growing scarcity of food resources, make it a point to develop and protect agricultural lands.

8.    Build green buildings. They are much cheaper to maintain and will help you save money in the long run.

9.    Have a unique identity as a community. You must strive to have an identity of your community as unique, diverse, and inclusive. 

1.  Educate and engage citizens. More than the buildings, the citizens themselves must participate in decisions that will ultimately affect the welfare of the community.

Friday, December 6, 2013

5 Huge Changes Introduced by LEED v4.0

A decade after LEED was first introduced, the unquestionably most popular green building certification system has truly come a long way. LEED v4, the latest version, is the answer to the criticism that LEED lacked the mandatory prerequisites for energy efficiency.  

If you don’t have time to run through all the changes introduced in LEED v4, here’s a run-through of the major changes:

1.    Measurement of whole building energy

One new prerequisite is the assessment of whole building energy use. Meant to compel and motivate building owners to continually monitor the energy efficiency of their buildings, the data must then be shared to the USGBC. The good news is that there are plenty of energy monitoring options that are available.

2.    Prerequisites with regard to water use

LEED v4 also imposes new requirements with regard to water use: building-level water metering and outdoor water use reduction. There must be a water reduction of at least 30% and the data must be shared to USGBC annually for five years. 

3.    Demand response has been elevated to the level of base credit

With this prerequisite, building owners are now required to have a demand response system that must either be semi- or fully automated. It must meet a 10% load-shed requirement. Also, if the building is not located in an area with a demand response system, it can comply with such requirement as long as it is capable of full automation.

4.    Credit for renewable energy

Projects with renewable energy systems will have a higher number of points under the renewable energy production credit. Even projects that have a ten-year lease for the energy system and is within the vicinity of the utility service area can likewise claim for credit.

5.    Requirement for advanced energy metering

Buildings must do more than just metering the basic performance of the building and have a permanent metering system every one hour or so.
If you want a quick overview of LEED v4, check out this video: