New Trends in Sustainable Construction Technology
Sustainable technology has been around for quite some time, but its influences are really just starting to reach the mainstream in a real way. The construction industry has been hesitant to adopt sustainable techniques for a number of reasons, but leaders are starting to turn the corner as the techniques become more efficient and attractive. And while many of the environmental trends are still in their infancy, it's worth noting what's available today to better determine what will be on the horizon for tomorrow.
Renewable Heating and Cooling
There are two major ways that home builders are incorporating renewable heating and cooling methods:
- Solar power: The panels on either a commercial or residential building will allow the sun to activate the panels' ions and produce electricity. This technique has been historically used in sunny areas to generate the most power. However, the technology has become more efficient in recent years, making it a solid option for even cloudier climates.
- Geothermal heating: Geothermal heating is 500% better than gas or oil in terms of efficiency, using the Earth's 60° F core to keep homes at a stable temperature. Geothermal heating can be implemented anywhere because the core of the planet remains stable under any circumstances. This technique does use electricity to heat and cool homes, but it ultimately uses far less energy than traditional methods.
There are a variety of manufacturing companies today looking to transform trash into home building treasure. For example, using the denim from old blue jeans to make insulation, or transforming raw sewage into bricks. This is a trend that's currently in its experimental stages, but there's reason to believe that at least one of the techniques will see a real breakthrough in the coming years. Companies are collecting bark or old newspapers to make siding and bottles to make bricks. Paint can be made with all-natural materials like milk and limes and floorboards can be made with old wine corks. And the best part is that this can now all be done without compromising the aesthetics of the building.
Burbank homeowners likely don't realize just how much heat their roof absorbs during the sunnier months. The temperature outside may be 90° F, but the roof can climb up to 140° F after it's been baking in the sun for an hour or two. This heat doesn't just transfer to the residents directly below the roof, it will also heat the ambient air and make the whole neighborhood warmer. In major cities, the heat can radiate off the roof and then become trapped by the layer of smog above it. A cool roof can lower the temperature of the roof by a full 50°. This can help homeowners who want to cool down both their homes and their immediate neighborhood.
A New Kind of Glass
Windows have long been an invitation for the outside elements to enter the home, but this may be changing due to new kinds of glass technology. For example, low-e glass is designed to trap heat during the winter months and radiate heat away during the summer months. And while low-e glass is fairly popular as far as sustainable construction technology goes, smart glass is a new invention that may soon usurp low-e glass entirely. Smart glass uses Wi-Fi to alter how much light the window accepts based on the outdoor temperature, the force of the sun's rays, and the number of people in the room. Experts estimate this may be able to save a homeowner up to 25% of their heating energy.
A zero-waste home is one that relies on renewable energy and recycled materials to operate. There is no standard model of a zero-waste home because they're largely still seen as experimental building only. In general though, there is a push toward combining the new technology with the old in these homes. For instance, rammed Earth, a building material made of soil and clay, is being implemented with run-off water systems to ensure the stability of the structure.
The rammed Earth technique was once used by our ancestors to make their adobe centuries ago, but just one storm could destroy the whole home. By combining the old technique with a new run-off system, zero-waste homeowners have additional options to make their homes as sustainable as possible.
Sustainable construction technology isn't just good for the environment, it's also good for our wallets. New construction homes that effectively utilize these techniques will undoubtedly be in high demand because they save people money on their utility bills, thereby encouraging even more sustainable solutions for the future.