It is no longer an issue of whether to go green but more a question of how to maximize the benefits from energy savings to water conservation, recycling, enhanced workplace health and productivity, attracting and retaining a higher quality of tenant and adhering to the growing number of local, state and federal laws.
We took a look at what is up and coming in green building to develop a list of top trends in green for 2016.
- The number of buildings seeking LEED will continue to increase dramatically. There are LEED rating bashers out there and those who question whether LEED is enough. But, for now, the answer is yes it is and will continue to be.
- LEED has a relatively new competitor, Green Globes, which is based on an online questionnaire system. Time will tell if and how much Green Globes will impact LEED’s global popularity.
- Look for more cool roofs and green roofs. Cool roofs, achieved by using foam, rubber, special tiles and/or solar-reflecting paint, lower temperatures inside a building and can result in energy savings of as much as 15%. Green roofs, planted with vegetation, can increase a roof’s life span, result in major energy savings, greatly reduce water runoff and mitigate the Urban Heat Island Effect. Green roofs being built as urban produce gardens for tenants to manage, is a beginning trend we would like to see much more of.
- One new architectural design idea for new builds is to incorporate atriums inside high-rise buildings for better air ventilation and more healthy natural daylight.
- Sustainable construction which uses materials and products that require less use of natural resources and more sustainable resources, is also on the rise. Steel, glass, prefabricated parts and additions to concrete serve to reduce waste.
- Significantly trending is LED lighting. With so many benefits – reduced maintenance, much longer life and substantial energy savings - property owners can clearly see their competitive advantage. The obstacle remains upfront cost but a LED lighting retrofit can typically pay for itself in less than 3 years.
- Lastly is a look at Net Zero or Zero Energy buildings. These buildings, although they may also store power from the grid, are designed with energy saving techniques and depend on renewal energy sources such as solar and wind power. Energy use is further reduced with state-of-the-art HVAC and lighting that, for example, takes advantage of natural light. Once considered impossible to achieve, net zero building designs are on the rise in New York City but remain difficult to realize.
The future of green buildings and construction is exciting and, if you pardon the pun, energized with regard to development of new ideas, products, techniques and technologies that will conserve energy and natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint and result in healthier homes, learning centers and workplaces.
By Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services