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Trends in Green Building

By:   |   09.30.13

Did you know that 40 percent of the energy used by commercial buildings goes to ventilation and space heating/cooling? That’s why commercial building owners and operators continue to look for ways to increase the energy efficiency of HVAC systems. The energy used by HVAC systems is based on the resistance of the air passing through the system’s air filters. So, the lower the filter’s resistance, the lower the energy consumed by the system’s motor. 

The growth of green building and maintenance practices continues unabated as green building products are becoming an economic and environmental force around the world. According to a recent industry report from McGraw Hill Construction, 89 percent of global industry professionals reported using or specifying a green building product in 2012. The report identifies the most purchased green building products as those in the categories of electrical, mechanical, thermal and moisture protection.

Greening electricity

Enormous progress has been made in the past several years to make solar energy more affordable and therefore more practical. For the first time, solar energy accounted for all new utility electricity generation capacity added to the U.S. grid in March of 2013, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) “Energy Infrastructure Update.” Many analysts predict, solar will grow to be the largest new source of energy in the U.S. over the next few years.

Greening mechanical systems

Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems directly consume the largest portion of energy in buildings—so they are extremely important from a “green” standpoint. The first place to look to minimize the impact of a mechanical system is in a building’s design and construction because integrated design and careful insulation can minimize the need for supplemental heating, ventilation, or air conditioning. In addition, sizing mechanical systems appropriately is imperative from an efficiency standpoint.

Greening thermal and moisture protection products

From insulation made from recycled paper to windows made from recycled vinyl and waterproofing membranes made from recycled tires, there are an ever increasing number of green building products on the market. These products are proving to be as effective as traditional products and the price points are comparable, today it doesn’t have to cost more to build green. In addition, in the next 2-3 years building product manufacturers will increasingly try to gain or maintain market share based on open disclosure of chemical ingredients.

The Future is Green

Green building is expected to continue to accelerate both inside and outside the U.S. Net-Zero Energy buildings or buildings that use the same amount of energy per day as they produce, are expected to become much more commonplace, in both the residential and commercial sectors. Commercial building owners will have to disclose actual green building performance to all new tenants and buyers and in some places, to the public at large. And finally, there will be more green building mandates at the local and state government levels, for both public and privately-owned buildings.

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