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Author: Shannon Minnis
It’s a question that drives you nuts. With so much at stake, why won’t people start taking their environmental impact more seriously? Thankfully, the building industry is taking notice. Green construction technology continues to improve. And as a new generation of developers will tell you, it’s the perfect marriage of green thinking and profitability.
Green construction technology is excellent for the environment and for profits. Even better, people prefer living in eco-friendly cities. And that means increased economic activity. Green is just good for business.
And there’s good news for everyone. That’s because today, we can turn entire homes in cool, cozy havens that leave zero carbon footprint. Take Tesla’s amazing Powerwall, for example. There is a sturdy solar panel roof and an entire wall of the house that converts those solar photos into clean energy.
It’s like a big, flat battery. And it will still insulate your home and do everything a wall is supposed to do. Your house can run entirely off the grid with minimal fuss.
One of the most exciting developments in green construction technology has to be transparent wood. It’s a cheap, plentiful wood that doesn’t require the destruction of old growth forest. Also, it’s smooth as glass, it doesn’t retain water, and heat can pass through it.
If you want a lifestyle as eco-friendly as camping in one of America’s beautiful parks without leaving the comfort of the city, then green construction technology is for you.
What Is Green Construction Technology?
By now you’re probably wondering what exactly green construction technology is? Well, according to the EPA, green building is the practice of “…creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient.”
But there’s more.
Because the building has to remain eco-friendly and resource-efficient for its entire life. That means as it degrades, as all material things must, it doesn’t pollute any more than when it was first built.
However, I would take it a step further. Sure, the EPA may set the minimum standards, but I like to say that a building has a neutral impact on the planet. So a house, or a skyscraper, can only be considered green if it has no impact on its environment whatsoever.
Let’s take a look.
Efficiency is the name of the game
Did you know that the world’s hunger for raw resources is the leading cause of climate change? Couple that with the plight of nearly a billion people living in extreme poverty, and we’ve got a severe global crisis on our hands.
Being more efficient with our resources would go a long way towards alleviating this emergency.
First off, green construction tech needs to be resource-efficient. That means building this structure doesn’t require as many raw resources as non-green buildings.
For example, tankless water heaters consume nearly 40 percent less water than conventional water heaters. And they use no gas. From the start of the house to the day it crumbles, it is more resource-efficient.
Renewable isn’t just a river in Egypt
It’s hot outside, so you have your central air turned on. You’re not worried about the electricity bill, because all of your energy comes from solar panels inconspicuously installed around the edge of your roof.
And even then, thanks to photochromic windows and a living roof, your house stays a few degrees cooler than outdoors. You just need the A/C on low to give the air a nudge to comfort territory.
Welcome to the world of renewable energy. Unlike fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal, renewable energy will never run out. It’s always there.
Plus, it leaves no footprint when it’s consumed. As you know, fossil fuels create carbon emissions when they’re burned. A wind turbine creates nothing but energy.
Clear skies and freshwater
You know the score. People have been telling you for years. Don’t litter. Don’t leave car batteries in the trash. And never, ever pump millions of metric tons of toxins into the air.
Unless, of course, you’re a big manufacturer and then do what you want.
Well, times are changing. And thanks to green construction technology, families and businesses alike can benefit from buildings that don’t pollute.
For instance, geothermal heating uses the natural heat from deep within the earth to keep your home warm. But it can also power entire factories. Best of all, engineers can make it happen virtually anywhere.
So why don’t we use that for every building?
Because it’s expensive. Sure, people might see energy savings in a few years, but the initial outlay is still too pricey for most. But we’re getting there.
Green construction technology doesn’t pollute.
Enjoy your life
Finally, green construction technology needs to provide a better quality of life. We already know that financially it’s a win-win. But what’s the point if life gets harder?
Green tech is making life better, and easier, for everyone. Take smart monitors. These monitor your energy usage. They can detect water leaks, or when you’re using too much energy.
It will alert you before you end up with a massive bill. The same can be said for smart home gadgets, which reduce energy consumption by up to 40 percent. Thanks, Alexa!
And you know what else?
Things such as solar roofs, powerwalls, and tankless water heaters look nice. So you get aesthetics, savings, and eco-friendly living all in one. That’s green construction technology.
How We Reviewed
Putting together a review of 12 innovations in green construction technology was easy. At first, I was afraid I would end up on page 40 of a Google search, clawing for information. But that wasn’t the case at all.
That’s because green building technology is here now and it’s everywhere. Green is becoming the norm in new buildings. And do you know what’s really incredible? The fact that all this groundbreaking technology exists, and yet very few people know about it.
So I compiled everything I could find into one place where you can learn about it yourself, without having to go digging.
12 Innovations in Green Construction
I know what you’re thinking. You want to go eco-friendly, but you’re worried that it will be difficult. And expensive.
And you’d be right.
Switching is the hard part. Some things are easy, such as installing a tankless water heater. Others, such as installing insulated daylighting panels, require a lot of work and money. But then, after only a year or two, you would start to make that money back in savings. And think about how it will affect the value of your property.
Is it starting to sound worth it yet?
Let’s take a closer look at 12 amazing innovations in green construction technology that you can use today.
1. Eco-friendly stuff
The first and possibly most crucial trend in green construction is the movement towards eco-friendly building materials. You’re probably wondering what that means. Get this:
More and more builders use biodegradable, recycled, and renewable materials. For example, take paint. Instead of dangerous acrylic, builders have started using natural paints.
They’re just as nice and durable but aren’t filled with chemicals. Another example is recycled steel. It’s so much cheaper than new steel. And it doesn’t require the extraction and processing of raw materials, so it has a much smaller carbon footprint.
2. Light the way
Next is something that seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it has only been recently that we’ve come to recognize the benefits of light emitting diode (LED) lighting. LED lights use a whopping 70 percent less energy than traditional electric light bulbs.
But there’s so much more.
Because with LED lights, you can control them via smart assistants. You can adjust the brightness at different times of the day. And best of all, because they use heat sinks to dissipate any heat they generate, they don’t burn out for a long time. We’re talking years of use.
3. Holey roads
Next up is another of those simple ideas that we’re just getting the hang of. Pervious concrete can be used for parking lots, driveways, and even roads where there’s no heavy truck traffic.
Basically, it’s concrete filled with microscopic pores. It allows rainwater to seep through the concrete, replenishing groundwater and hydrating surrounding greenery. Best of all, this water keeps the concrete at a cooler temperature, and we could all use a little cooling off these days.
4. Rooftop living
Imagine if the roof of every tall concrete and glass building in your city had a beautiful park on top of it. Sure, that sounds a little ridiculous. But guess what? It’s already happening. New York, London, and even Hong Kong are embracing the green rooftop lifestyle.
And this has fantastic benefits for the planet. All those trees, plants, and even grass absorb heat, clean toxins from the air, and create a friendlier, cooler environment. I look forward to seeing this trend grow.
5. She gathers rain
Another significant innovation that we’re seeing gather momentum is the hydro wall. This innovation is really cool, literally.
It’s a wall which collects rainwater and moisture from the air. It stores that water inside special holding cells within the wall. When the temperature inside is warmer than the water, it sucks heat into the water through a natural process. And when the temperature is colder, it releases ambient heat stored in the water.
You’ll see more and more big stores and warehouses with wavy, fun-looking exterior walls as we move into a green future.
6. Through the looking glass
Next up is a highly advanced innovation that we could never have implemented until the technology caught up. Well, it’s here now. I’m talking about electrochromic windows.
An electrochromic glass, a.k.a. smart glass, changes shade based on the amount of light and heat entering it. No longer do you need to adjust the blinds constantly. Better yet, as it automatically blocks hot sun rays, you won’t need to keep your air conditioner running so much.
These windows are neat. They consist of electrodes and conductors at the ends and a transparent sheet of lithium diodes connecting them all. As photons from the sun’s rays hit the diodes, they create energy which causes them to darken.
7. My monitor is smarter than yours
Another great piece of green construction technology is saving people thousands of dollars a year. Smart monitors are a new and growing trend for builders, utility companies, and homeowners.
These monitors allow you (or your utility company) to monitor energy usage. It can detect spikes or leaks. Best of all, when coupled with smart home automation, it can adjust heat and lights and water.
But you don’t have to wait for a contractor to install one. With something like the Sense Energy Monitor, you can track your own energy usage.
8. Hello, sky
Look up. Do you see your ceiling? Imagine if instead, you saw the sky. Maybe filled with stars or big lazy clouds. Remember, when they were called skylights? Well, those used to be simple windows on the ceiling. An insulated daylighting panel (IDP) keeps heat out in the summer and heat in during the winter.
Also, it insulates against acoustic disturbances. That means you won’t hear the helicopter flying overhead (but you’ll see it). Best of all, offices, factories, and warehouses equipped with daylighting panels save massive amounts of money on lighting costs.
9. On a hot silicone roof
Next, we have older technology adopted for modern needs. We’ve all heard of solar panels, but did you know that you can replace your roof with solar panels? It’s true!
Get your home working for you with a solar rooftop. And get this: They’re safe for use in rain and even in winter!
Tesla has an entire solar rooftop division. But builders can get a jump start on this technology by installing solar rooftops on new builds. That’s the kind of green construction technology that helps everyone.
10. Power to the people
If the solar rooftop intrigues you, check out the Powerwall. So far as I know, Tesla is the first to introduce this. Basically, it turns one wall of the house into a giant battery. And it uses the solar rooftop to keep it charged. All of your home’s energy needs come from this wall. You can power everything in your home with the amount of energy stored here.
You’re probably wondering what the big deal is. Think back a few years. If you want solar power, you needed a big array of panels in your yard. Then you needed an ugly inverter box. You had to bury wires that would run to another box in your home.
Now, you can simply implement the panels and the boxes as part of your house. That’s green construction.
11. No more tanks
The 11th green construction innovation that’s making waves today is tankless water heating. Generally, you heat water for your home in a giant tank. Natural gas heats the water, and it kind of sits there waiting to be used.
But if somebody takes a long shower, the tank drains, and everyone yells not to use all the hot water.
We’ve all been there.
No more. Thanks to tankless water heaters, you get a constant stream of hot water that never runs out. It’s basically a box that you mount on the walls of your basement. A plumber attaches piping to it. Finally, it uses electricity to heat the flow of water as it passes through.
You can ditch that water tank and enjoy the extra space. Furthermore, you no longer need natural gas piped to your house, and you’re saving a ton of water.
12. Dozers love this
Finally, one of the coolest green construction innovations in the world is transparent wood. It’s balsa wood that has undergone a chemical transformation.
Basically, its lignin gets removed, and it becomes transparent. Yet it doesn’t lose any of its strength or other properties. So what’s the big deal?
For starters, buildings constructed with transparent wood will be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. That’s because it absorbs energy and lowers energy bills and carbon footprint.
But don’t go looking for some yet; transparent wood is still in the research phase in Sweden. Soon enough, however, we’ll start to see it in the real world.
The Future Is Here
Twelve amazing innovations in green construction technology are starting to change the world. Imagine if every building had a net-neutral footprint. The vast energy grid of today will get consigned to the history books, where it belongs. And it’s all starting to happen right now!
We’re living in exciting times. Green construction is just part of that, but it’s an important part. Who knows what we’ll come up with next?
Do you have any thoughts on green construction? Let us know in the comments!