Sustainable Technologies for the Building Construction Industry
The benefits of using sustainable construction technology are significant for the industry. Whether refurbing existing buildings or constructing ground-breaking urban design projects, sustainable materials and technologies help to make our infrastructure more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
However, we can only maximize the benefits of sustainable construction technologies to meet the challenges of urban sustainability if we consider their use throughout the construction lifecycle, from design, site selection, choosing materials, and the operation of a sustainable site.
What are sustainable technologies for the building construction industry?
The term ‘sustainable technologies’ covers a wide array of elements; from how we construct our buildings to the appliances we use in them, clean energy technologies, renewable energy sources, and everything in between.
There is no doubt that new innovations will deliver increasingly efficient and effective technologies to use in the construction of sustainable buildings. But we don’t need to wait for these technologies to be invented or created. There are many available today that will help us build more sustainably.
Here is our selection of 10 sustainable technologies in construction that we should plan for when designing new urban infrastructure or remodeling existing buildings.
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
Already popular in construction, this software can help us fully appreciate the environmental qualities of a building during the design process. Using BIM, we can quickly identify how to improve efficiencies in design, HVAC systems, solar panel placement, window configuration, and so on.
Prefabrication and modular construction
By fabricating a building’s components off-site, we minimize waste and localized pollution on-site. We also improve efficiency in the construction process, reducing the time to build. Automating manufacturing of building components decreases time-to-build and energy use.
It is possible to construct entire homes using automated 3-D printers. This reduces time-to-build, cuts the cost to build, and virtually eliminates waste. Once the framework of the home has been built, construction crews finish off the internals (wiring and piping, etc.). A faster, more efficient construction process with a lower carbon footprint.
When we demolish buildings, we can and should reclaim as much of the old materials as possible. Bricks and lumber are resilient materials. We can also use reclaimed materials from many other sources ─ saving money and reducing waste not only on construction sites but also elsewhere. Cities can and should produce deconstruction ordinances to ensure we reclaim and recycle.
Cool roofs are highly reflective and reduce thermal loss. This improves the control of temperature inside the building, reducing the need for heating and cooling ─ and thus reducing carbon emissions. Cool roofs are also good for our urban environments, helping to reduce the ‘heat island’ effect.
By installing solar panels on our buildings, we can help to reduce our reliance on electricity produced by the use of fossil fuels. Buildings can become closer to net-zero-energy. However, we should also explore the ways in which we can harness solar energy on-site and during all phases of construction.
Electrochromic Smart Glass
Like cool roofs, Electronic Smart Glass (ESG) reduces the absorption of heat but does so intelligently. Electric signals within the glass adjust reflective qualities to alter the solar radiation it reflects ─ helping to automatically control indoor temperatures.
There are many ways in which we can reduce the amount of water that we waste and the damage that water run-off causes ─ either through erosion or flooding. By more effective landscaping, encouraging greening of infrastructure (such as green roofs) as well as implementing specific water and waste management systems, we can combat the heat island effect, use water that would otherwise be lost, and reduce pollution caused by ineffective disposal of contaminated wastewater.
Our homes are becoming smarter, and we should design them to be as smart as they can be. Smart appliances reduce energy use and make lives easier to live. Smart meters and smart grids help appliances talk to their networks, collecting real-time data and automatically running at the lowest rates.
Smart refrigerators can monitor food and compile inventories and shopping lists. Motion sensor lights and heating further reduce energy use and ensure that only spaces that are in use are lit and heated/cooled.
Sustainable indoor environment technologies
We can use a variety of indoor technologies to deliver sustainability and to deliver improved quality of living and safety in the home. As well as the smart technology that we’ve already mentioned above, we can use non-toxic materials like cork, bamboo, and wood rather than harmful chemicals like phenol-formaldehyde.
Cause less harm, deliver greater sustainability
We can construct our urban environments to be more sustainable, but to do so effectively we must collaborate more effectively. We must understand what communities need and how to deliver to these needs. We should include designers, architects, engineers, construction companies, suppliers, planners, and federal, state, and city lawmakers in the entire lifecycle of construction. We must use the technologies available to us, and be open to exploring and implementing new technologies.
Can we accomplish all this? If we want to create sustainable cities that continually improve the quality of life for all, surely we have no choice?
At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed and created. To leverage our experience in sustainable design and construction, contact ACB Consulting.