The construction industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, with more than $1 trillion in annual spending projected over the next decade. There’s massive potential for growth, with an estimated 20 billion square feet of new construction and renovation projects underway globally.
With a changing conversation about environmental impact, carbon neutrality and sustainable infrastructure for future cities, net zero buildings are increasing in importance now more than ever due to three main reasons –
- Increasing energy costs due to macro and micro-economic reasons,
- Traditional construction materials are becoming more scarce, and
- Eco-friendly products are garnering more support among consumers today.
All these mean that real estate developers, builders and construction businesses need to build carbon-neutral buildings sooner with maximum efficiency and efficacy.
What is a net zero building?
A net zero building is one where the building generates at least as much energy as it consumes. That’s right: these buildings produce more energy than they use on an annual basis.
Apart from reducing carbon emissions, and air pollution, reducing the cost of maintenance, and reducing the usage of lesser natural resources, a carbon-neutral building increases the value of the property. Net zero buildings will be more attractive to buyers because they know they won’t have to pay high utility bills every month – saving them money from the start.
How has the adoption of net zero principles been in the industry?
The adoption rate of net zero principles in the construction industry has traditionally been slow, but interest is increasing within the past 5 years. This is mostly due to the existing building standards and regulations that do not yet recognize carbon neutrality as an important factor. However, with more awareness, we can accelerate its adoption rate.
There are a number of good examples of how we can implement renewable energy and water conservation systems in our homes. However, one of the biggest challenges with implementing these systems in our homes is that they are often expensive to install and maintain over time. Even so, there are still many ways we can reduce our carbon footprint by improving efficiency and reducing waste at home.
How to design a net zero building?
Designing a net zero building is complex, and requires time and resources. You need to consider the energy consumption of the building’s structure, construction materials, and components as well as that of its occupants.
This can be done in two ways: through active systems (i.e., using high-tech equipment) or passive systems (i.e., using natural elements). The latter are cheaper but require more effort from designers because they must take into account factors such as wind load resistance, thermal mass properties, and orientation angle before deciding which type of material should be used for each specific site location
1. Energy-efficient building design
- Insulation: Insulating your building will help keep it cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and more energy efficient overall. A well-insulated building has less air leakage than a poorly insulated one, which prevents drafts and maintains consistent temperatures throughout.
- Windows: The window is a large component of any building’s envelope (the outer layer of protection for the structure). When choosing your window style and size, factor in how much natural light you want to let into your space as well as how many people have access to each floor of the structure—and then calculate how much heat loss would occur if they were all open at once!
- Roofing: Roofing materials come with varying R-values (or resistance values), which determine how effective it is at insulating against air infiltration. A higher R-value means better insulation performance during extreme conditions like cold winters or hot summers; however, roofs are also very expensive so don’t be afraid to ask around before committing financially
2. Renewable energy
Renewable energy is the key to achieving net zero buildings. It enables you to have sufficient energy at all times and helps make your building carbon neutral. A sustainable power generation in modern buildings is achieved through various ways such as:
- Solar panels – are usually installed on roofs or walls and provide a constant supply of power,
- Wind turbines – they generate electricity using wind energy and can be used for homes or even large buildings,
- Geothermal systems – these systems use heat from the ground for heating water for use inside buildings, which can also be used for cooling purposes during summer months by having an air condition system installed at lower levels below ground level where the temperature remains constant despite weather conditions above ground level (i.e., hot days).
3. Smart appliances and devices / IoT integration
Thirdly, you need to integrate IoT into your building design and management. The use of smart devices will be crucial in achieving net zero buildings in 2022.
IoT technology is used by facilities, building and plant managers to improve the efficiency of their buildings and manage them better. For example, lighting systems can be automated such that lights turn off when rooms are empty or when security cameras detect no movement for several hours. This allows for reduced energy consumption during those times and also helps with security as there’s less chance of someone breaking into an empty room (or worse). You can also set up temperature sensors in rooms that can automatically adjust heating/cooling settings based on how warm or cool they are getting over time so that no one needs to manually monitor these things anymore–which saves even more money!
4. Facility management software
Facility management software is a core component of any green building project. It’s used to manage facilities and maintain their operations, including energy consumption. The goal is to reduce energy usage while improving the efficiency and productivity of your building.
The main benefit of using facility management software is that it helps you track your energy use. When you know how much electricity or natural gas you’re using at various times throughout the day, week and year, you can adjust policies to reduce consumption without hurting performance or comfort levels for tenants/employees. This allows net zero buildings like yours to keep costs down while also contributing toward environmental sustainability goals. For example, facility management software platforms like PlanRadar allows facility managers to access all building-related data including sensor information in one place allowing them to identify inefficiencies and spot opportunities for carbon emission reduction. To learn more about how PlanRadar enables you to build smart infrastructure, you can try the app for free or contact us here.
In addition to tracking data about energy consumption in real-time from multiple sources (such as smart metres), facility management systems also allow users access to information about other aspects related to a building such as HVAC systems operation history through graphs over time so they can easily identify problems when they arise before things get too bad (for example: if there are leaks in pipes leading into basements causing mould growth).
The green building trend is gaining momentum, as standards and regulations become more stringent and the consumer conversation is shifting more towards sustainability and the development of future-oriented cities. The future of construction is trending toward net zero buildings, which means buildings that generate their electricity and heat by using renewable sources such as solar panels or wind turbines. In 2022, we will begin to see buildings that require no outside energy source for heating or cooling purposes. They will be fully self-sufficient with a combination of onsite renewable energy sources (solar panels) and efficient heating systems (geothermal).
Looking to get started with facility management software that enables you to build net zero infrastructure? Book a free PlanRadar demo today!