The drive to save energy in particular in the arena of construction is greater than ever. This is in part because the buildings in which we live, work and play have such a major impact on our immediate environment, contributing up to 30% of the total global carbon emissions. Conversely by building according to “green” principles, we have a hope of reducing or even reversing this impact to the advantage of all involved.
So let’s have a look at how the construction industry is leading the way when it comes to greening our world and helping us save valuable energy and other finite resources.
1.Automated Energy Management Systems
Technology doesn’t just make our lives more convenient and connected. Technology can empower us to manage our homes and workplaces so they run more efficiently and in a manner that helps us save energy. There are now web-based applications available that are designed specifically to limit building operating costs and allow for more predictable energy usage.
Such a system can be accessed remotely via your smartphone or mobile device and can be installed in any size building, from home and apartment buildings to large-scale office complexes and industrial spaces. The system enables those who have authorised access to control building elements like:
– lighting schedules;
– plug or circuit level loads;
– equipment; and
– to override attempted changes in the settings by unauthorised people or personnel.
Green roofs may be a little future forward for South Africans, but still warrants a mention because it shows what can be achieved when choosing different constructin options for our buildings. Green roofs are an excellent way to offset your carbon footprint by virtue of the fact that the vegetation works to absorb carbon monoxide. They contribute greatly to passive temperature control within the building so helping you save energy and cut your air conditioning costs.
Furthermore, “greening” your roof can increase its life span by 2–3 times, i.e. up to 60 years. And help to reduce storm water runoff as well as limiting air and noise pollution. Green roofs also provide the perfect opportunity to grow your own food, particularly in those areas where space is at a premium.
Electrochromic glass is another example of technology advancing to meet the construction industry’s demand for smart green building solutions. By embedding nanocrystals in the electrochromic or smart glass, science has given us the ability to control its transparency (or translucency) at just the touch of a button.
This means you can keep your smart windows at the standard clear setting on cloudy dull days and make them darker on bright sunny days, so blocking out excess and unwanted near- infrared rays. With our present inefficient windows accounting for approximately 15% of heating and cooling costs, the amount of energy you can foreseeably save by fitting smart windows becomes abundantly plain.
Recycled insulation options are proving ever more popular and, in addition to being more environmentally friendly, they are also more efficient than traditional options. Top choices include recycled denim; recycled fibreglass; and cellulose sourced from newspaper.
Another excellent option is ISOTHERM Thermal Insulation which is manufactured from the thermally-bonded polyester of recycled plastic PET bottles. In keeping with green building trends, ISOTHERM helps save energy by promoting passive temperature control. By insulating your roofs, walls, geysers and hot water pipes you can keep your home or workplace naturally cool in summer and warm in winter, so reducing your electricity spend on air conditioning.
Water Is Life
With South Africa and many other areas in the world currently facing a water crisis, no green building could consider itself complete without a system in place that conserves water.
Consider also that 50% of the average household’s potable water goes to watering the garden, and that a grey water system can cut this use by almost half. Just imagine the positive impact if every building and home was fitted with water-saving fixtures and grey water systems?
Going green brings with it a world of benefits. The amount of water and energy we could save would go a long way to alleviating our current global environmental crises.