Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What's in for green building

What's in for green building

THE current year looks promising for the green building industry, according to the Earth Advantage Institute (EAI), a non-profit organisation which works with the building industry in Portland, the United States, to help implement sustainable building practices.

It has identified trends in green building for 2011 that range from how to make green homes affordable and energy efficient to community purchasing power and accessory dwelling units following discussions with stakeholders, policymakers, builders, developers, architects, real estate brokers, appraisers, lenders and homeowners.

Here are some of the trends:

Affordable green

EAI said green and energ-yefficient homes are often associated with higher costs but that is changing as new business models, technologies and high performance materials are making them within reach of owners.

With low-cost energy audits, homeowners are becoming more aware of the benefits of simple and inexpensive retrofits, so energy efficiency upgrades are increasingly commonplace.

Affordable housing groups such as Habitat for Humanity build LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Homes-and Energy Star-certified dwellings across the US for as little as US$100,000 (RM306,250). Therefore, green can be affordable.

Community purchasing power

This encourages communities interested in renewable energy to purchase materials such as solar panels in bulk to reduce the price and installation cost.

EAI said group purchasing creates 15 to 25 per cent savings below current prices and gives consumers significant cost savings. It also increases solar energy use among communities.

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs)

These are extra living units on your property complete with a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping facilities. EAI said that being the ideal size for energy efficiency and green construction, these small detached or attached units can be used as offices, studios, rooms for in-laws or be rented out.

ADUs help cities increase urban density and restrict sprawl as rental units while homeowners can add value to their property. Cities such as Portland, Oregon and Santa Cruz have waived administrative fees to encourage more ADU construction.

Residential grey water

EAI said the trend of grey water recycling - any household water waste except toilet water - is gaining traction as it reduces water usage. The practice is still new but many communities have increased the amount of allowable grey water use for irrigation.

Encouraging grey water recycling also reduces strain on septic and rainwater systems and underground replenishment.

Lifecycle analysis (LCA)

EAI said understanding the lifecycle of building materials - their effects from cradle to grave - has always been important to green builders. The industry is studying these materials' effects over the course of their entire lives, from raw material extraction through to disposal and decomposition.

Therefore, lifecycle analysts are examining the impacts of materials through the lens of environmental indicators, which include embodied energy, solid waste, air and water pollution, and potential for global warming.

With the results, LCA for building materials will help architects determine what products are environmentally friendly and more sustainable for usage.

By : Pavither Sidhu

Source : New Straits Times Property

Date Published : 31 January 2011

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