5 Ways Green Technology is Changing Modern Construction
Due to the alarming amounts of pollution emitted annually and its drastic effects on the earth’s environment, various organizations are turning to alternative sources of energy and setting their sights on green technology.
Green technology, also known as environmental technology or clean technology, consists of ever evolving techniques and innovative methods, using fewer toxic or non-toxic materials to curtail the adverse effects of pollution and preserve the natural environment. The term also describes technology that promotes the generation of energy by sustainable means such as wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, bioreactors, solar panels, etc.
Primarily, the employment of green technology is a prerequisite to decelerate global warming and to avoid the usage and subsequent exhaustion of non-renewable energy sources. This in turn ensures healthy living conditions for the current generation and a habitable environment for future generations.
Therefore, numerous industries are trying to transition towards green technology, including the modern construction business, to reduce their carbon footprints on the earth’s ozone layer.
Commercial construction companies are pursuing all the latest innovations of the technological world, including green-building; a promising sector that has been explored extensively in the past few years. Following are a few ways green technology is making its presence known in the construction sector:
Cool roofs are specifically designed roof coverings that increase solar reflections and decrease thermal emissivity, inhibiting the cool or warm air inside from escaping through the roof, consequently maintaining a standard room temperature. This form of green design technology, when compared to traditional method, is especially useful in withering climates as it makes the indoor temperatures cooler by more than 50 degrees.
Cool roofs also curb the heat island effect or higher suburban temperatures as compared to the surrounding rural areas, thereby lowering energy demands during peak summers. The cumulative effect of installing cool roofs is reduced strain on air conditioning systems thus lowering the overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Different materials are used to coat the surface of cool roofs including white or special reflective pigments, reflective marble chips, light colored and earth tone slate tiles, cool asphalt shingles, etc.
Electrochromic smart glass
Smart glass is a dynamic innovative upgrade of the conventional glass, whose working principle consists of minute bursts of electricity that charge the ions on the window surface allowing them to reflect light. What distinguishes electrochromic glass from the low-emittance windows is its ability to allow the user to control the amount of light entering through the window.
Smart glass plays a crucial role in the scorching summer months when you wish to block as much radiations from the sun as possible, and conventional awnings and shades fail to keep the interiors cool. This invention works to reduce the cost of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) along with the adverse environmental effect of air pollutants emitted by HVAC.
Furthermore, when they are incorporated into the building’s control system, smart windows of skyscrapers and buildings can be programmed to tint during peak hours and turn transparent during the evenings.
While eletrochromic smart glass is still being improved for commercial use, manufacturers predict an approximate 25% reduction in HVAC cost due to these ingenious windows.
Insulation from elements of the weather is the primary concern of any constructor, as proper insulations allow indoor temperatures to remain consistent and comfortable despite extreme climatic conditions.
Wall insulation is achieved by filling the cavity between the walls with insulators; materials that inhibit heat transfer. Green insulation refers to the practice of using recycled material as insulator including cotton insulation composed of denim from disposed jeans and cellulose insulation consisting of recycled newspaper. Another advantage of using paper insulation is the reduced risks of fire due to its treatment with fire retardants prior to installation. Fibreglass insulation, made from recycled glass, is another green option but Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) claims that it is not as practical or energy-efficient as cellulose insulation.
Conventional competent green insulation not only reduces the amount of energy required to maintain the interior temperatures but also strives to keep the waste from contaminating the environment.
Zero energy homes
Zero energy homes or buildings refer to the modern constructions which operate off the electric grid by producing their own energy by utilizing renewable energy sources like wind and solar power by installing wind collector or solar panels respectively. The “zero” denotes negligible or non-existent carbon emission and net energy consumptions.
They are designed to be highly energy efficient with excellent insulation and are integrated with passive solar building design. This term refers to the use of specialized materials to construct walls, floors and windows that are able to collect, store and distribute solar energy to meet the energy requirement of a modern home.
Zero energy homes are expected to become increasingly popular despite high initial costs as they promote positive environmental impact and mostly pay off in the long run.
Rammed earth bricks
Rammed earth bricks are part of the ancient construction techniques, also found in certain portions of the Great Wall of China built thousands of years ago, which are reinvented to accommodate the persistent demands of eco-friendly building methods. These bricks are prepared conventionally using raw materials sourced from the earth albeit the construction process has been made easier. A mixture of moist earth, hard substance such as gravel or clay and stabilizing elements like concrete are compacted to construct sturdy buildings with dense, hard walls.
Rammed earth bricks have many advantages including less drastic indoor temperature changes from day to night due to its considerable thickness, greater energy efficiency as compared to cement and competitive production cost.
As stated by Ibrahim Thaw, Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Program, “Buildings represent a third of global emissions and a third of energy and materials consumed worldwide”. Therefore, it is extremely essential for commercial construction companies to shift to green technology for a safer, healthier environment.