Commercial construction is going green. The market for sustainable products, practices, and processes in the building industry is being bolstered by public awareness and supported by increased legislation—and it’s creating new opportunities for construction companies who are eager to meet the rising demands from customers for eco-friendly building materials and techniques.
Take a look at three green construction trends that are sure to shape the future of commercial building:
1) LEED CERTIFICATION
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the world’s most widely used green building rating system, devised by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation toward sustainable design. There are nearly 80,000 projects participating in LEED across 162 countries, including more than 32,500 certified commercial projects. Around 1.85 million square feet are being certified daily, meaning they’re sufficiently resource-efficient, using less water and energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Studies support that LEED-certified construction results in significant advantages for both builders and commercial businesses. Consider these statistics from a USGBC study from Booz Allen Hamilton:
The construction of LEED-certified buildings accounted for about 40% of green construction’s overall contribution to GDP in 2015.
LEED will directly contribute $29.8 billion to GDP by 2018.
From 2015 – 2018, LEED-certified buildings are estimated to save as much as:
$1.2 billion in energy savings
$715.3 million in maintenance savings
$149.5 million in water savings
$54.2 million in waste savings
2) HUMAN- AND ECO-FRIENDLY BUILDING MATERIALS
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are contained in many building products, such as paint, drywall, furniture, and carpeting. These can become vapors or gases and harm our air quality. Short-term exposure to these airborne chemicals can cause headaches, dizziness, and eye and respiratory tract irritation. Long-term exposure can affect the function of organs and the central nervous system.
As a result, more builders and commercial clients are choosing materials that either don’t contain VOCs or that carry low levels, such as low-VOC paints. Both Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), which disclose a building product’s list of ingredients and their health effects, and Health Product Declarations (HPDs), which focus on the environmental impacts of a building product throughout its lifecycle, are helping consumers make informed product choices.
What’s more, according to ConstructConnect.com, the production of concrete and steel is hard on the environment, accounting for up to 15% of the global greenhouse gas emissions annually. While manufacturing processes can be changed, builders are increasingly looking at more environmentally friendly alternatives that are made from renewable resources or are recyclable at the end of their life, such as various mass timber products.