I am reminded of the words of Al Gore, “As more and more people understand what’s at stake, they become a part of the solution and share both in challenges and opportunities presented by the climate crisis.”
At the time when the world is faced with a global ecological crisis around climate change, we are in a time where we need to take on the responsibility of acting both responsibly and ethically towards the environment. Today, it is not just a strategy to save costs, rather a brand growth strategy.
With a shift in mind-sets now growing toward the idea of promoting sustainability, green building concepts have taken the front foot in the real estate industry. Looking for an opportunity to become more involved with promoting sustainability, latest construction technologies are being developed to pave the way for long-term practices in sustainable construction.
There are a wide variety of new technologies used in green buildings…
- Net Zero Concept (Zero Energy and Zero Water Concepts)
Net Zero Concept buildings depend on renewable sources to produce as much energy as they use. Buildings that produce a surplus of energy may be called ‘energy-plus buildings’ and buildings that consume slightly more energy than they produce are called ‘near-zero energy buildings’. The energy is measured over the course of a year. One of its many features is that it does not depend on any external source for energy and water. Extensive use of renewable sources of energy like solar panels and wind turbines are among the technologies used to achieve net-zero status. The long-term benefits of energy-saving compel companies to consider it as a good investment.
- HVAC (Heating ventilation, and air conditioning) and Electrical
Today’s modern constructions employ HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning) as functions that designate them as modern homes and buildings. Warmed or cooled or dehumidified air flows through a series of ducts that are distributed to all the rooms of a house. A central HVAC system is the most quiet and convenient way to cool an entire home. HVAC Systems should consist of water cooled screw chillers with a high coefficient of performance and eco-friendly refrigerant. AHU’s, cooling towers, pumps; jet fans with variable frequency drives are modulated by centralized IBMS with the installation variable air volumes inside the designated areas. AHU’s are interlinked with Heat Recovery Units to reduce the cooling load on the chiller. For better IAQ, use of Demand Control Ventilation system with Co2 sensors is a must. The main objective is to reduce the electricity consumption of the building from the electricity grid, a fossil fuel based thermal power dominated grid and thus contributes to the reduction in emissions of pollutants including GHG emissions. The use of daylight and occupancy sensors for common area lighting and use of LED’s for energy conservation is an option that many are turning to.
Glazing is another technique used wherein a Low ‘e’ double glazed glass is used to reduce the heat ingress into the building. These windows help to make the indoor area more comfortable, it dramatically reduces energy costs and helps to create a brighter, cleaner and healthier environment.
- Low –Emitting materials
Using local and recycled materials having lower embodied energy is very important. The reduction or no use of low VOC paints, adhesives and sealants is better for the environment, for indoor air quality and are approved for use around people with environmental sensitivities.
Efforts to increase water capacity should be balanced with greater conservation and water efficiency efforts. Low flow fixtures, sewage treatment through reuse of recycled water for flushing and landscaping, and appropriate use of drip and high efficient sprinkler irrigation need to be taken care of. Technological innovations in green building concepts not only help in reducing operating cost in terms of lesser energy and water bills for the end users, but also build a reputable corporate image amongst developers. The Government of India is offering various incentives like fast track approval for Green building projects, which will definitely help developers commence and conclude projects within stipulated deadlines.
Alongside the above, there are opportunities with new technology that has been successfully executed in the international markets and is seeing an entry into India. Some of these include for instance geothermal energy, a promising renewable source because it relies on heat energy from within the earth, which varies little from place to place, in contrast to solar and wind power limitations. Another would be Radiant Cooling a popular choice for net-zero energy structures due to its ability to balance energy consumption and renewable energy creation. There is also Solar Façade – a system to generate energy through solar power. Building a photovoltaic facade is a fully integrated system with no visible add-ons. It is suitable for new buildings and renovation, and can be used in office, commercial, industrial and residential construction. Another re-invention off a century old traditional building technique is the Green Natural Roof – where natural, local materials were used to provide shelter from the cold and rain, sun and the wind. The ecology-sensitive design helps buildings blend back into their environment.
Green buildings also make good business sense, delivering return on investments within 3-4 years. Though use of new technology might see additional effort and funds required in the construction of a green building, the rewards of these are far higher and satisfying. Use of technology helps in the green efforts, benefiting workforce and society as a whole, reducing operating costs and elevating brand value.
Finally, what will save us is not technology or science; it is the ethical transformation of our society!