What’s trending on the green building scene in 2016? If you want to stay ahead of the competition, and be ready for the requests of homeowners this coming year, sustainable and eco-friendly building better be at the top of your list. More and more residential and commercial construction projects are “going green,” bringing you more opportunities to grow your business and send your profits soaring through the solar-paneled rooftops.
Check out this Infographic for all of the latest green building materials and trends your clients will be clamoring for in their remodels and new home construction in 2016. Then keep on reading for more information you need to know to keep your business in "the green" next year.
Net Positive Energy Homes
Zero used to be the hero when it came to green building; Zero Energy Homes that produced enough energy to make up for what they consumed. But in 2016, Zero Energy moves aside as Positive Energy
Homes set the new gold (green) standard for energy efficiency. Positive Energy homes use solar power to produce more energy than they consume, with excess being sold back to the grid, or used to power things like electric vehicles, saunas, yard equipment, and power tools.
Smart appliances are helping consumers get even closer to net-zero energy use. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, appliances combined with lighting and electronics use up to 34.6% of a home’s overall energy. Look for Energy Star certified appliances to reduce energy use in the home.
Water Reuse and Supply
Water efficiency and conservation becomes even more important as some states continue to experience record breaking droughts. Look for water conservation fixtures, rainwater harvesting, greywater reuse, efficient irrigation technologies, and drought resistant landscaping to be big next year.
Drought Resistant Yards
Be prepared to hear the word Xeriscaping even more in 2016 as drought resistant yards become even more popular. Xeriscaping is a creative way of landscaping that focuses on conserving water usage. Water conservation in landscaping starts at the design level, and includes the right soil, local plants that are drought resistant, and limited or no grass areas.
According to Rodale’s Organic Life, well-designed drip systems use at least 30 percent, and in some cases 50 percent, less water than other methods of watering. Drip irrigation systems that slowly deliver water directly to the root zone of plants, without wasting it on nearby areas, will continue to be on trend. Drip irrigation will be in even higher demand in drought states such as California.
Health Conscious Building
Commercial building design, and re-design, will focus on Health Conscious Building as corporations seek to improve the mental and physical well-being of their employees. Health conscious building design may encourage employees to take the stairs, rather than the elevators, or provide other opportunities for exercise. Standing desks and treadmill desks are a health conscious design trend, as is on-site sky gardens and vertical gardens.
The roofing industry will continue to get greener with cool roofs and green roofs in both the residential and commercial sectors. Cool roofs absorb less heat and reflect sunlight away with special tiles, and reflective paints. This keeps the entire building cooler and a more constant temperature, reducing energy usage. Green roofs have a layer of vegetation on top, and these rooftop gardens reduce the temperature of the roof and surrounding air through evapotranspiration. Green roofs not only reduce energy usage, they also reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Green building starts on the molecular level with exciting new innovations in Nanotechnology. Nano insulation is non-toxic, and the insulating coatings are so thin and clear that they appear to be invisible. Nano insulation is about 30% more efficient than conventional insulation materials.
Nanocoating paints are a great alternative to traditional paints because of their lower carbon footprint to produce and maintain due to their corrosive resistant and self-cleaning properties. Nanocoatings can be painted on to roads, bridges, and buildings. And nanotech solar technologies will allow solar powered cells to be integrated into windows and awnings, not just rooftops.
Inside a green home, sustainable flooring options can be attractive, eco-friendly, and contribute to the overall health of the home. Innovative flooring options include carpets made not only from recycled carpet fibers, but also from recycled plastic water bottles like the Everstrand Carpet from Mohawk Flooring. Mohawk recycles over 3 billion plastic bottles each year to make their environmentally friendly carpet.
Stunning floor surfaces made from eco-friendly materials such as bamboo, cork, salvaged wood, and recycled materials such as glass, ceramics, stone, and even rubber can be used in bathrooms, kitchens, and all over the home. Low- and no-voc sealants will keep bathrooms and kitchens water-tight, while remaining environmentally friendly.
One of the newest trends for countertops is breathing new life into old materials. Recycled glass, steel, aluminum, and even paper countertops are eco-friendly and compliment the design style of any home. Reclaimed and bamboo wood countertops provide a rustic warmth to kitchens, and can stand up to years of kitchen abuse. Bamboo countertops are not only eco-friendly and sustainable, they also contribute to a healthy home; bamboo is naturally resistant to mold and bacteria.
A Return to Steel
Steel is not a new building material, it’s been used to frame buildings since the 1800s. But steel is making a big comeback as a sustainable building material; all steel products can be recycled again and again. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, a 2,000 sq foot two story house can be framed from the steel recycled from six cars. It would take nearly an acre of trees to produce the wood needed to produce a comparable wood frame. And steel isn’t just for framing, either. Recycled steel countertops, furniture, and tiles can be used throughout the home, as well.
The Tiny-house trend has taken the nation by storm, and one of the reasons people are choosing to build small these days is to reduce their carbon footprint and live more sustainably. Inhabit extols the virtue of a compact space, stating that a smaller home takes less materials to build and requires fewer resources to maintain comfort.
If you aren’t using green building materials and sustainable practices in your construction business, you are missing out on an opportunity to reach an ever growing customer base that includes both residential homes and large commercial practices. Keep an eye on the green trends that are shaping up to be big in 2016, and your construction business (and customers) will thank you for it.