Construction Going Green!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The world is going green and environmental trends are changing the way we live, the way we think and now also the way we build. The construction industry might not have seen it coming, but houses, offices, retail stores and buildings are all striving to be more energy efficient. Water scarcity is becoming a driving force in the plumbing industry and energy-saving concerns affect electrical and HVAC subcontractors every day. Our industry must adapt and step up to the forefront by joining society in this new movement. This will not only be beneficial to our planet, but also to our pockets. All it takes is a little planning! For some insight tips check out the top 5 eco-friendly building products as rated by Greener Homes Magazine: 1. Energy-efficient windows: Big windows provide tons of light which helps us out with our electric bill during the summer months, but unless you live in South Florida year round windows can also account for 25 percent loss of the home's conductive heat during those cold, winter months. And, let's not forget that windows are also a gateway for solar radiation, which can cause temperature swings within the house. To avoid this it is important to use single-paned window units that have an insulative value of around R-1; double panned windows have an R-value of 2.

2. Environmentally friendly insulation: Because of its recycled content, and superior energy and acoustic performance, cellulose insulation is an environmentally preferable product that is not only healthier than fiber glass, but also cost-competitive.

3. Low and zero-voc finishes: One of the leading causes of indoor air pollution can be blamed on paints and finishes because they release low levels of toxic substances for long periods of time after their application. Most paints and finishes have petroleum-based solvents as a carrier, but low and zero-voc finishes use water instead. These coating are just as durable and way friendlier to our lungs! 4. Engineered lumber: Due to many irregularities only certain parts of natural lumber can be processed into high-grade dimensional lumber. In contrast, 60 to 70 percent of the raw material coming from engineered wood products can be used for building. Glue-laminated beams and TJI Joists are resourceful and efficient materials that can significantly reduce the amount of wood needed for any construction project.

5. Straw bales, adobe, starch-clay, and natural plasters: Building with local, natural materials, such as earth straw, dramatically reduces the total embodied energy of a home or building because from an ecological standpoint, the lower a material's embodied energy, the better.

Green building is a smart decision not only for our health, but also for our bank accounts. Owners are finding the long-term savings far exceed the upfront investment of incorporating green building features. Furthermore, it seems that the new administration is very serious about providing funding for new infrastructure required to implement green energy programs. If programs progress as Washington is currently promising, the home contractor who is not using green products and providing green energy solutions will go the way of the dinosaurs.

The resources are to be there, the public is ready for the change, so now it is time for the construction industry to provide the tools and knowledge we need to keep the green movement going forward.

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