Green construction can be used interchangeably with green building or sustainable construction. Therefore, green construction means the use of resource-efficient and environmentally responsible processes in construction to ensure the lifetime sustainability of the building.
Primarily, the sustainability context of the building implies building operations, site design, maintenance, repair, and demolition with the least harm on the environment. The process requires close collaboration of the construction engineers, the client, and the architects in the entire construction project.
The aim is to ensure the building and construction methods are cost-effective, durable, and reduce the overall effects on the environment and human health with a central focus on efficient use of energy and resources, water preservation, improved occupational health, and reducing pollution and wastage.
The most sustainable way is to not make things. The second most sustainable way is to make something very useful, to solve a problem that hasn’t been solved.
~ Thomas Sigsgaard
According to Wikipedia,
“Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.
This requires close cooperation of the contractor, the architects, the engineers, and the client at all project stages. The Green Building practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort”
What is a Green Building?
Any building or any type of structure can be a structure of green construction, better called green building.
Characteristics such as unique cultures & traditions, typical climatic conditions, diverse building types, or a wide range of social, environmental, and economic priorities tend to vary in countries and/or regions. All these fix their approach to green building.
Usually, these include efficient use of energy specifically renewable energy, such as solar energy, water, and other resources, pollution and waste reduction measures, enabling of re-use and recycling, good environmental air quality indoor, use of non-toxic and sustainable materials, the environment-friendly design, construction and operation design that allows adaptation to a changing environment and most important consideration of the quality of life of occupants.
Now, let’s take a look at the top 15+ sustainable construction technologies used in green construction.
15+ Sustainable Tools and Technologies Used in Green Construction
1. Solar Power
Solar power has been increasingly exploited as sustainable construction technology. In green construction, it can be utilized in two ways, one pertains to active solar energy and another is passive solar power.
Active solar power utilizes functional solar systems that absorb the radiation of the sun to use for heating and electricity provision. It reduces the need for electricity or gas. On the other hand, passive solar power uses the sun rays to warm homes through the placement of windows strategically and the use of heat-absorbing surfaces.
The windows let the energy in, and the heat absorbed reduces the requirement of using power for warming the house during cold times such as winter.
The upfront installation costs are higher than traditional means, but in the long-term, it saves on energy bills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels.
2. Biodegradable Materials
The use of biodegradable materials is an eco-friendly means of making construction sustainable. Most traditional construction materials lead to the accumulation of waste products and toxic chemicals, the majority of which take hundreds of years to break down. And even after they degrade, they contaminate and harm the environment.
Readily biodegradable materials such as sustainably sourced bamboo, timber, mycelium (a kind of fungus), classic linoleum, and organic paints don’t have to end up in a landfill.
They limit the negative impacts on the environment as they easily breakdown without releasing toxins. The biodegradable materials used for building foundation, walls, and insulators are also forming part of sustainable construction technologies.
3. Green Insulation
Insulation is one of the greatest concerns when it comes to the construction of buildings and homes. However, most people hardly know that insulators are simply wall filters that don’t need to be made from expensive and highly finished materials.
The green insulation has proven to be a sustainable construction technology as it eliminates the need for high-end finishes made from non-renewable materials.
It also offers a solution by using materials that are old and used, such as denim and newspaper. In other words, green insulation utilizes recycled material to line the walls.
4. The Use of Smart Appliances
Homes and commercial buildings consume the world’s most energy. This is why it has necessitated the use of smart appliances as part of sustainable construction technologies. The durable construction technologies emphasize on the installation of energy-saving and efficient appliances.
Appliances like a micro oven, SmartGrid refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines are examples of such sustainable technologies. The technology is aimed at establishing zero-energy homes as well as commercial buildings.
5. Cool Roofs
Cool roofs are one of the sustainable green design technologies that aim at reflecting heat and sunlight away. It helps in keeping homes and buildings at the standard room temperatures by lowering heat absorption and thermal emittance.
The cool roof design makes use of reflective paints and special tiles that absorb less heat and reflect most of the solar radiation by reducing temperatures as much as 50 degrees Celsius during summer.
Cool roofs also help minimize the dependence on air conditioning and, in turn, reduce energy use, which leads to decreased cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
6. Sustainable Resource Sourcing
Sustainable resource sourcing is the key element of sustainable construction technology because it ensures the use of construction materials designed and created from recycled products, and that should be environmentally friendly.
In most cases, agricultural wastes or by-products are used to produce construction materials. Overall, the materials are remanufactured, recycled, recyclable, and obtained from sustainable sources.
7. Low-Energy House and Zero-Energy Building Design
Sustainable construction technologies typically include mechanisms to lessen energy consumption. The construction of buildings with wood, for instance, is a sustainable construction technology as it has a lower embodied energy in comparison to those build of steel or concrete.
Sustainable green construction also makes use of designs that cut back air leakage and allow free flow of air while using high-performance windows and insulation techniques.
The strategic placement of windows makes day-lighting available, thereby minimizing the need for electric lighting during the day.
These techniques are meant to reduce the dependency on air conditioning and interior heating by using renewable energy such as solar energy for lighting and water heating. The initial expenditure of setting up zero-energy buildings may be high, but they pay off in the long run.
8. Low-Emitting Materials
Selecting low emitting materials and products is an essential consideration in today’s design and construction world. It not only improves human health but also goes a long way in protecting the overall environment.
It helps the building projects achieve Green building credits from agencies like LEED, IGBC, and GRIHA. These low-emitting materials credits usually apply to an extensive range of environmentally friendly building products, including adhesives, interior paints, coatings, and sealants used on-site, composite wood, flooring, thermal, ceilings and walls.
9. Electrochromic Smart Glass
Electronic Smart Glass constitutes one of the techniques used in sustainable construction. The electronic smart glass works mainly in summer to shut out the heat of solar radiation. The smart glass uses tiny electric signals to slightly charge the windows to alter the amount of solar radiation it reflects.
It is incorporated into the building’s control system, therefore, allowing the users to choose the amount of solar radiation to block. With this technology, homes and commercial buildings can save a lot on heating, ventilating, and air conditioning costs.
The smart glass is still being perfected and is soon set to be fully used in sustainable construction as smart energy-saving technology.
10. Water Efficiency Technologies
There are several water-efficient technologies used, which are all part of sustainable construction technologies. Essentially, the technologies encompass the re-use and application of efficient water supply systems, including the use of processes like dual plumbing, greywater re-use, rainwater harvesting, and water conservation fixtures.
Dual plumbing, for instance, lowers sewer traffic and enhances the potential of re-using water on-site. On the other hand, rainwater harvesting provides water for multi-purpose usage, and it can also be stored for future use.
These methods ensure that water is adequately managed, recycled, and used for non-portable purposes like washing cars and flushing toilets.
In general, the water-efficient sustainable construction technologies lower water usage costs and help in water conservation. In urban areas, the technologies intend to reduce wastage of water by 15% to address freshwater shortages.
11. Sustainable Indoor Environment Technologies
The health and safety of the building residents are fundamental, and it must be guaranteed during the construction of any building or home. Therefore, sustainable indoor technologies are mandatory in green construction.
The materials used must maintain green safety standards which include non-hazardous elements such as non-toxic materials, low volatile emissions, and moisture resistance.
For instance, materials made of cork, wood, and bamboo are naturally sourced and do not contain any toxic, irritating, or carcinogenic elements. The materials using low VOCs also enhance IAQ and restrict exposure to health-threatening chemicals such as vinyl, phenol-formaldehyde, and lead.
12. Self-Powered Buildings
The self-powered buildings are a work of art of sustainable construction technology. The reason is that self-powered buildings bring about the realization of zero-energy construction.
The buildings are built such that they can generate sufficient power to support their energy requirements and even direct surplus energy back into the power grid.
Mostly wind power technology is used and it is highly familiar in skyscrapers where wind turbines are mounted at the rooftops. Continuous and substantial air currents at higher altitudes propel the turbine blades, which generates the power requirements for the building.
13. Passive House
Passive House (Passivhaus in Germany) is considered the most advanced form of green construction with amazing benefits. It uses no mechanical or electrical devices but relies on the building design.
Every aspect of a building uses the design of building to control the temperature using solar power, either heating a house in the winter or rejecting the heat in the summer. Passive houses save cooling-related energy up to 90% compared to the typical building stock.
14. Technology Efficiency
Construction of a building requires much energy and that is also in the form of fossil fuels that release CO2 and other emissions. If this process is made more efficient, it is possible to complete more buildings in less time. It significantly reduces the environmental impact per building.
Another aspect is that here the construction relies on a large number of temporary workforces, which is managed inefficiently. If a contractor management system is used to ensure that workers receive the proper training and that they arrive at the site ready to work from the very first day, projects take less time to complete as there are no more waiting around.
15. Rammed Earth Brick
Rammed earth brick is one of the ancient construction technologies which has been lately re-introduced to cater to the demands of environmental sustainability. The sourcing and formation of rammed-earth bricks make it ideal for sustainable construction as it lessens environmental impacts.
The technique uses sustainably sourced raw materials. Making of building a rammed-earth structure has been made more accessible because of technological advancements; however, still, the ancient preparation process is followed.
Moist earth mixture and hard substances such as clay or gravel are mixed with stabilizing elements like concrete and compacted to create dense, hard walls.
Rammed-earth structures contribute to fewer emissions and the material can equally maintain the temperature of a building, ensuring that buildings remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
16. Prefabrication/Modular Construction
It could be in the category of technological efficiency, but it’s potential is so great that it deserves a class of its own. Prefabrication allows you to build ‘off-site’ in a controlled environment. This construction needs fewer workers compared to standard construction and there is also less waste, both financially and environmentally.
The other essential benefit is that workers’ safety is much more ensured in prefabrication and modular construction because conditions are controlled. Hazards can be better identified and the corrective steps are taken to prevent worker injury.
Infographic on Sustainable Construction Technologies
Source: Fix.com Blog