Construction is slowly becoming a greener and more sustainable industry due to advances in technology and the adoption of more eco-friendly building practices. All buildings and homes have an impact on their surrounding environment, so it’s important to keep moving in a direction that keeps damage, pollution, and waste to a minimum.
Creating awareness for environmentally-friendly processes is half the battle toward cleaning up and saving our planet. The more service professionals who support green construction, the better chance it’ll have at becoming an industry best practice. Fortunately, there are four ways green construction is already making an impact on homes and businesses around the globe.
Purchasing solar panels is expensive, but it shouldn’t be considered a waste of money for owners or builders. It’s an investment in the future and saves on energy costs in the long run. There are many benefits to harnessing the power of the sun, including tax breaks, lower electric bills and a cleaner environment.
Many homeowners are hesitant to make the switch because it means changing the way they power their home, but each person who makes the adjustment is making a big impact on the Earth. The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that generating 80% of America’s electricity from renewable sources by 2050 could reduce global warming emissions from electricity production by about 81%. It’s up to service professionals to encourage homeowners and building owners to step outside of their comfort zone and recognize all solar energy has to offer.
In addition to the growth in solar energy, the materials used to build homes and large structures are improving daily. Below are a few different categories of materials that are having a large impact on new construction.
Proper insulation blocks cold air that tries to sneak in through the windows and garage. In the past, people haven’t paid much attention to what was going in their walls, just as long as it kept their house warm. Well, that’s changing. In fact, fiberglass, a common insulation material, has been linked to health and respiratory problems. These days, homeowners are opting for health-conscious and eco-friendly solutions such as, polyurethane foam, icynene, cellulose, and sheep’s wool.
Another way to create an energy-efficient home is to replace the siding with materials that are eco-friendly and durable. A sustainably harvested wood product made with bonding products that are free of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, falls in this category and is an excellent alternative to traditional wood, aluminum, and vinyl.
In addition to siding, heating and cooling systems are being evaluated and upgraded. Homes, buildings, and large spaces require a large amount of energy to heat and cool. The more efficiently heating and cooling structures work, the less energy it’ll take to run heating, ventilation, and HVAC systems. This lowers maintenance costs.
As mentioned above, solar energy is an important way the industry is creating a cleaner environment. But solar energy is used for more than powering our electrical outlets. Solar devices are being installed in place of traditional water heaters and roof panels. Homeowners understand that efficiency ultimately means more money in their pockets.
There are many aspects to take into consideration when designing an eco-friendly home. Below are a few ideas you should consider when working with a homeowner who has this goal in mind.
- Environmentally or eco-friendly products: These will reduce the impact of construction and material harvesting on the environment. Consider green, sustainably sourced products for roofing materials, building materials, cabinets, counters, insulation and flooring.
- Windows: ENERGY STAR® certified windows are new player in window market and are much more energy efficient than traditional windows.
- Eco-friendly lighting: LED and CFL cost more upfront but use less energy and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
- Water conserving fixtures: Save water and energy with low flow faucets, toilets, shower heads, washing machines and dishwashers.
- Programmable thermostats: 50% of our energy consumption goes towards heating and cooling a home. The HVAC system will kick on when the thermostat reaches the designated temperature.
- Efficient landscaping: Shady landscaping can protect a home from direct sunlight during the summer and allows more sunlight to reach your home through windows during the winter.
These six design factors can save clients thousands of dollars over the course of their lifetime. Even better, they give them the peace of mind that they are living environmentally conscious lives.
Plumbing & Water Conservation
There’s only so much fresh water to go around and people are quickly realizing that conservation is necessary if we want to save our planet. Efficient plumbing is a good place to start. Water and sewer bills are going up which is causing homeowners to care enough to ask for and pay for water-efficient homes, “We’re at the tip of the iceberg of consumer demand,” says Pete DeMarco, director of special programs for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).
Experts suggest building efficiency from the inside of the home and working outward. Constructing a water-efficient home should include adjustments such as installing low flow toilets, showers and faucets. Help clients keep an eye on water usage with tools like wireless water consumption monitors, which help homeowners understand how much they consume.
Create the future by letting go of the past. Ignite change by starting conversations with your clients about these new environmentally-friendly industry practices. By clearly communicating the benefits to them, you might get them on board. You’d be presently surprised at how many homeowners are open to the change!