Green technology can be used to solve commercial construction problems through new materials and added efficiencies in building/repairing structures. However, it would be most helpful if green technologies were developed to address specific issues in commercial construction rather than continue with a “one size fits all” approach often adopted by green technology developers today.
To illustrate this point further, here are ten green technology solutions that civil engineer Reddy Kancharla thinks could help cut costs or improve project performance. Some of these are already being applied on some projects, but they do not seem widespread enough to impact commercial construction performance significantly.
1. Use of precast concrete for wood frame construction
The use of precast concrete to replace wood in the structural framing is an innovation that has been adopted rather slowly by industry, even though it can result in a faster erection, savings in labor costs, and improved durability. This would be especially helpful to developers who wish to complete their projects quickly since they could eliminate many connection details involved with timber framing. It also means less waste because there are no scraps left over after the components are cut out, reducing landfill contributions by eliminating plywood and sawdust waste disposal.
2. Integrating solar technology into roofs
Green building codes mandate the inclusion of green infrastructure that will optimize the building’s energy consumption. For example, if solar collection devices, such as panels or daylighting systems, can be easily integrated into roofs and other flat surfaces of commercial buildings, they could significantly reduce the consumption of conventional fuels by a factor of four or even eight times.
3. Use broad-based renewable resources for power
The use of coal and oil to generate large amounts of electricity is a practice that increases pollution levels and health concerns in the environment around us. Therefore, the use of these resources for non-critical infrastructure projects could be eliminated through green technologies that focus on using renewables such as wind, water, and sun to generate electricity. This would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars since less power would need to come from those sources.
4. More energy-efficient windows that can be installed quickly
Windows are an important part of buildings designed to ensure the best use of natural light, but they account for 25% or more of a building’s energy costs. Therefore, they are one area where increasing efficiency has the potential to provide significant results in reducing total project costs. A quick installation process would also be needed since construction firms need to complete their projects within time constraints.
5. Smaller form factor devices with better performance
The size and weight limitations on electronic control systems have led to the development of smaller, less powerful power supplies over the past decade. Still, this trend should reverse itself as green technologies develop. As a result, building owners could benefit from an increase in power supply size and a reduction in the number of devices needed. In addition, building systems would become more reliable since there would be less need for backup power supplies on each project.
6. Solar-powered air conditioning equipment
Air conditioning is one of the most significant energy consumers in many buildings today, accounting for about 40% of their total electricity usage. The use of solar power to reduce the costs associated with cooling buildings could therefore make a large impact over time if it can be applied during new construction or retrofitting processes. It could also help developers get their product to market faster by making it easier to meet green and LEED requirements and cut back on certification delays.