Current trends in green building and resilient design

Blog 88 Green BuildingBy Brian Binke

Since buildings place a significant strain on the nation’s power grid, the demand for more zero-energy buildings continues to grow. More construction firms are focusing on building structures that are resilient and also able to generate much of their own power through renewable sources like solar panels, efficient heat pumps, radiant cooling systems and techniques that improve building envelopes.

Green Building Projects

There have been several notable projects in this space recently including a new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building on the campus of Arizona State University. The project was designed by Studio Ma based out of Phoenix, AZ, and features an air-purifying biome in addition to other systems that can capture and convert carbon, recycle water and use minimal energy.

The Living Building Challenge is another popular trend in this area right now with the goal of complementing the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED green building rating system. Living buildings are those that generate more energy than they consume. A major benefit of living buildings is that they are regenerative and help to offset the negative impacts that are associated with most traditional building projects. Buildings that derive their power from fossil fuel and nuclear energy are not considered to be zero energy. The Living Building Challenge has received endorsements from both the USGBC and the Canada Green Building Council. 

Up-and-coming generations, like millennials, are also joining in on the green building movement by demanding healthier work and home environments. The most modern work spaces include a variety of different perks that appeal to younger generations ranging from high-quality lighting to more window seating and quiet rooms. 

Resilient Design

Whether it’s an earthquake, hurricane, flood or wildfire, natural disasters continue to wreak havoc to the construction industry. Construction leadership and experts are all encouraging building efforts that expand resilient design. Developers, tenants and property owners are able to benefit from investments in disaster mitigation, such as elevating homes higher than required in flood-prone areas, building structures to be more rigid in those areas prone to seismic activity and erecting more fire-resistant buildings. 

Promoting resilient design could also lead to thousands of new long-term construction jobs. Federal efforts are underway as $28 billion was recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to those states and territories that suffered losses from natural disasters from 2015 to 2017. President Trump went on to declare November 2017 to be Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month. The Rainier Square Tower in Seattle is a current project that is focusing on earthquake resiliency. The residential building will be one of the first in the nation to feature a coupled steel-plate composite shear wall in which the cross-tied plates are filled with concrete to increase seismic resistance. 

Brian Binke is the founder and CEO of The Birmingham Group (TBG). TBG is a globally recognized executive search and consulting firm specializing in the construction arena. Over the past 22 years, Brian has established himself as one of the construction industries most respected leaders. He has won numerous awards for his industry innovation and has been recognized as the No. 1 worldwide revenue producing manager for the largest recruitment network of more than 800 independent firms. 

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