Technology is continuously improving and setting new standards, including higher environmental sustainability. Winds of green change sweep across construction yards, propelling building projects to another exciting year. Yes, many trends come and go, but there are also those that become an integral part of the industry.
Green building falls into the latter category as something that is no longer considered optional or a passing fad. Forward-thinking designers and architects are leading the race introducing bold new solutions. Consequently, companies have to keep up the pace if they want to stay competitive.
So, here are some trends that are sparking attention on the world stage and are poised to dominate the construction sector this year.
Need for speed is a major factor in modern construction business. The prices of materials are still high, but modular construction projects are sprouting up everywhere and breaking new ground in terms of resource and energy-efficiency. They involve both pop-ups and permanent modular buildings built with latest technological solutions.
Environment protection is integrated into building processes and the result is something much more sustainable than a conventional building. Namely, modular construction aspires to provide maximum user comfort, minimize the environmental impact, and bring to life displaceable, “smart”, and 100% recyclable buildings.
One mainstay of this trend is effective prefabrication, an innovative method of construction that is gaining traction across the globe. Without compromising the quality, it cuts construction waste, decreases the time needed to set things up, and eliminates toxic substances from the assembly process. Everything plays out quietly and as clean as possible, using flexible components like high-grade steel frame solutions.
Prefabrication allows materials like steel to be recycled for sustainable resource management. Furthermore, once the buildings are constructed, the removal of thermal bridges and great insulation value ensure optimal energy efficiency. All in all, prefabrication is a win-win: Companies are able to achieve greater cost-effectiveness, and sustainability is taken to the next level.
The market for green materials is expanding at a rapid pace. It includes materials made from renewable resources, as well as those that are recyclable at the end of their lifespan, manufactured with the help of eco-friendly processes, or contain salvaged, waste, and recycled components.
Concrete and steel are two of the most common building materials of today, but innovations in manufacturing processes have led to a substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. There is still a long way to go before these two can become truly sustainable, but in the meantime, we can rely on solutions such as mass timber (cross-laminated timber, for instance), which can be used even for large-scale projects like skyscrapers.
Reducing the energy and water usage in buildings is one of the main frontiers of sustainable innovation. In the US, residential and commercial buildings account for 40% of the total energy consumption in the country. The good news is that things are changing fast. Take the example of local government projects that set zero net energy goals.
They aim to capitalize on the trend called zero net building (not to be confused with passive houses), a construction that is designed to generate as much energy as it uses throughout the year. How is this possible? Well, zero net buildings, although connected to the grid, use on-site renewable energy sources such as solar photovoltaic panels to cover all energy needs or even create a surplus of juice.