Sustainable construction is seeing a rapid rise, especially in North America. An increasing number of project managers, government agencies, architects, and designers are incorporating sustainable design and construction trends into their buildings. The worldwide growth of green building is only expected to continue.
Both climate change and the uncontrollable operating cost of energy are driving this growth. Based on these drivers, what predictions can we make for the future of sustainable construction?
1. Energy Efficiency As a Top Priority
For almost a decade now, building retrofits to improve energy efficiency have seen strong growth. Much of this growth has been seen in the municipal, school, and hospital markets, as well as in commercial and corporate real estate.
We can expect more property owners to upgrade their structures now for energy (and cost) savings in the future.
2. Experimenting with Innovative Green Building Materials
Green building materials allow a construction company to cut its environmental footprint, reducing material waste, energy, and pollution. It’s no surprise then that green materials are at the top of today’s sustainable construction trends.
From recyclable precast concrete and reclaimed wood and metal to cork and mycelium (made from fungi), we’re sure to see innovators experimenting with a variety of different eco-friendly building materials in the future.
3. The Boom of Solar Power
As North America moves towards zero-net-energy buildings, the use of solar power in buildings is sure to rise. Solar will enable more states and provinces to meet their aggressive renewable portfolio standards.
Further, new tools like Google’s Project Sunroof, and falling solar power costs, will make it easier for businesses to use solar power as well. For businesses looking to be known for their commitment to a greener future, having highly visible solar panels on their rooftops can demonstrate that commitment to renewable energy to their employees and the public.
4. Zero-Net-Energy Buildings Will Become More Popular
Zero-net-energy buildings used to be virtually unheard of before 2011, but they’re now becoming more popular in North America. We expect this to continue, largely in relation to commercial buildings but also in some new home developments.
5. Green Building Rating Systems to Compete with One Another
While LEED used to be the top construction rating, the Green Globes rating system now has equal footing. Many other systems exist worldwide, including BOMA BESt in Canada, BREEAM International in Europe and Mexico, DGNB in Austria and DGNB, and HQE in France.
We expect more new entrants to enter the rating systems market in specialized niches and heat up the competition. However, country-specific rating systems and certifications, as opposed to international ratings, are likely to continue dominating in their own markets.
6. An Increased Use of Tech to Go Green
Building automation is set to become the norm for many building owners and third-party service companies. Building automation enables property owners to manage their buildings remotely. Using a software platform, they can monitor the building’s performance, gather data, get fault detection and diagnostics, engage in portfolio energy management, and more. Energy dashboards, in particular, can create greater awareness of energy use and make a business case for retrofits and upgrades.
As technology continues to drive changes in virtually every industry, there’s no doubt it is here to stay in the sustainable construction sector.
7. A Greater Emphasis on Water Conservation
Many regions of the world are expecting a fresh water supply crisis due to the effects of climate change. As rainfall and water supply systems and rainfall continue to be negatively affected, building owners and designers are placing an increased emphasis on water conservation.
We expect to see more graywater and rainwater recovery systems being installed, more efficient cooling towers, and other novel approaches that will help reduce water consumption.