Trends in Green Construction
It’s no secret that green building trends are on the rise. From simple features like low-flow toilets to entire homes built around the idea of ‘going green,’ experts predict that the trend toward more eco-friendly home construction is here to stay. Let’s look at several trends that are taking hold.
Net Zero and Passive Homes
Both of these ultra-energy-efficient home types are built with the same end goal: smart use of natural or renewable energy sources in order to eliminate or offset traditional energy consumption. The methods for each type, though, are a little different.
Net zero homes utilize renewable energy sources like solar panels in order to offset a home’s energy use. As the name implies, the aim is to generate enough power so that no fossil fuel consumption is needed.
Passive homes are built to be heavily insulated and airtight, with well-placed windows and other building features that allow the building to be able to self-regulate its temperature with little interference from traditional heating and cooling. Passive homes boast a 60-80% reduction in energy consumption when compared with traditionally built homes.
Both home types are currently in high demand in Europe. Industry leaders predict popularity stateside is not far behind.
Smart Water Usage
With drought becoming a mainstay in the southwest region and California — and predictions of similar conditions on a global scale — it’s no wonder homebuilders have begun to add water-conserving features to homes with some regularity. Low-flow toilets are a typical way homebuilders make use of water-saving equipment. Expect to start seeing construction companies boasting composting toilets and gray water recycling as options for your newly built home.
Composting toilets work the same way as your average backyard compost bin. Human waste is turned into usable compost instead of sent to your city’s water treatment facility.
Gray water is water from showers, washing machines, and the like. Gray water recycling filters and cleans this water on site, making it ready for safe reuse – and saving you money on your water bill.
Experts predict landscaping will follow the lead of homebuilding in regards to water conservation, taking into greater consideration stormwater runoff and water pollution issues when creating a plan for a home’s green spaces. Look up and you’ll likely see a green roof or two – living roofs use low-maintenance plants to mitigate water runoff and as insulation.
According to Kalsi Engineering, a recognized expert in the industry, between 10 to 30 percent of a building’s energy use goes toward keeping it lit. LED lights only need about 10 percent of the energy as incandescent light bulbs, and around half the energy of compact fluorescents. In addition, they last over 40 times longer than these other bulbs. These traits make them an easy choice for inclusion in green homes. Keep an eye out for new LED applications, like the recently created OLEDs — organic LED lights that are thin, flexible, and can be embedded into floor or ceiling tiles.
Affordability of Eco-Friendly Design
The most exciting prediction is that the trends and home features listed above will be used more and more, bringing eco-friendly design to the masses instead of only the elite. As they become more widely known and in demand, green homebuilding practices will be used in a wider range of homes – not only on high-end builds. Experts predict that this trend will be quickly adopted by modular and prebuilt home manufacturers offering homes with built-in green features.