As construction companies research and learn about new and innovative construction materials, the industry grows and evolves. One of the biggest evolutions in today’s construction projects is the use of sustainable and more energy efficient building materials for both residential and commercial construction.
A part of the new interest in energy efficient and sustainable building materials has been a focus by many government levels on providing tax incentives to encourage the usage of these types of materials and components.
Tax credits, rebates, and other incentives from the Federal and state governments has encouraged construction companies and architects to include purchases and installation of a variety of new and energy efficient materials. Everything from efficient insulation and hot water systems to increased energy efficient windows, doors, siding, and roofing materials have all become critical to construction.
A Continuing Transformation
In addition to these incentives, the construction industry has undergone some transformation in its own view of working with these types of materials, components and systems. This transformation has seen a greater inclusion of sustainable materials and a strengthening view that increasing energy efficiency in the design of new construction is beneficial to their company’s ongoing business and place in the construction market.
The Legislative Research Commission in their publication “Energy-efficient Building Design and Construction Practices” commented that, “The whole-building design approach integrates building design and siting, including the use of components that feature the latest in energy-efficient technologies and practices, evaluation of all building materials for environmental preference, and completion of a base-case analysis to understand design strategies that will have the greatest impact on the design for a particular building function. “
The report continues to describe how the whole-build approach includes both the architectural design combined with its energy design for a particular building. “The capacity of mechanical and electrical systems can be minimized by incorporating passive solar technologies to help meet indoor space-conditioning requirements and lighting loads.
Building simulation software can guide decisions to achieve this strategy. All suggested design changes should be re-evaluated through simulation before implementation to ensure they will not detract from meeting building design goals.”
New Materials, Systems and Design Concepts
In addition to the tax incentives and this new approach to construction, there are new materials and systems that provide opportunities that are increasing the use of these materials. As well, new innovative designs are taking a fresh look on how to utilize every aspect of a building’s construction to increase its overall energy efficiency. Some of the new materials, systems, and design concepts include:
- Occupancy sensors for indoor and outdoor lighting to maintain energy efficiencies when actually needed.
- Electrochromic windows that instantly shade, when hit with direct UV rays reduces overall costs for running air conditioning in hot summer months.
- High performance insulation for flooring, exterior walls and roofs maintain a building’s heat in colder weather and also retains coolness when operating an A/C system in the summer.
- Utilization of metal roofing materials to reflect the sun’s hot rays to keep a building cool and reduce cooling expenses.
- Functional use of natural ventilation and ceiling fans to cool buildings to reduce the need for air conditioning.
- Application of light colored materials or paint for a building’s exterior, including roofs in order to reflect the sun’s rays and reduce overall cooling costs.
All of these efforts by the construction industry are focused on reducing the general energy use of a building. The efforts focus on how to effectively and efficiently use energy, but also water and other resources.
Included in the design are factors such as materials that will protect the people who occupy or work in a building. And finally, the construction industry is also using these new methods in an attempt to reduce waste and promote better use of materials.