Green building technologies continue to advance. 2016 will bring new levels of environmental technology to the construction field, allowing you to occupy buildings that potentially generate energy, improve overall air quality and even help you and your workers to live longer.
Air Cleaning Paint
Paints with reduced outgassing have been standard for green buildings for a while now. However, modern paint technology goes beyond reducing the amount of volatile organic compounds that coatings emit. More and more buildings will start using paints made with ultra fine particles of titanium dioxide that work together with light to actually break down pollutants like nitrogen oxide. This technology can also be applied to other surfaces -- like roof tiles -- to create an entire building that reduces pollution.
Efficient Building Skins
2016 will see more architects making strategic choices with the outside layers of their buildings. While glass skins are attractive and allow for light transfer, simple glass frequently is not the most efficient choice for a green building. Some designers will choose to integrate photovoltaic solar panels into the building skin while others might create a building skin that can adapt to block -- or admit -- light and heat, helping to control the outside environment to manage the building's energy consumption on the inside.
Zero or Net-Positive Energy Use
Energy saving is almost no longer part of a "green" building. Now, it's to be expected of any building. The trend in environmentally sensitive properties will be to move to either net-zero or net-positive energy impact. In other words, a green building should either cover its own energy use or cover its own energy use and make some extra to feed back into the grid. Achieving this goal requires not only a highly efficient building but also some sort of on-site power generation system like solar panels or a wind turbine.
Green roof technology has been around for a while, but it is finally starting to make its way into commercial green building projects as a functional system as opposed to just a proof of concept. A green roof is one where the top of the building is turned into a growing area. This technology brings three major benefits. First, a green roof is an excellent insulator, helping to reduce energy costs. Second, it captures and uses rainwater, reducing water waste. Third, a well maintained green roof can have a longer life than traditional roofing materials.
Health Conscious Building
It isn't enough for a green building to minimize its impact on the ecosystem. Today, green buildings are also playing roles in making the people inside them lead more healthful lives. While each project has its own approach to being health conscious, one example of this type of design could be a building that pushes people towards stairways instead of elevators. Integrating healthful furniture designs, like standing desks, can also be a way to make a building more effective at promoting good health.
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