In his final address to the UN Economic and Social Council in 1965, US Ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson II offered these words to describe life on planet Earth: “We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable resources of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft.” Out of revelations such as Stevenson’s, Earth Day was born.
While many people will celebrate Earth Day 2019 by planting trees, organizing demonstrations, or being more mindful about their recycling habits, policy makers and the construction industry are also coming together to do their part. Construction impacts the environment enormously, and the industry’s potential—and responsibility—to reverse the damage looms equally large.
According to a 2018 UN Environment report, the building sector is responsible for nearly 40% of global carbon-dioxide emissions and 36% of final energy use. Committing to sustainability standards in line with international agreements could save as much as 84 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050—with energy savings of 50% or more.
Here’s a look back at six recent Redshift stories that demonstrate the challenges and importance of a global commitment to green-building practices—and to making the Earth a better place to live.
1. 5 Ways Innovative Engineering Shaped Russia’s Supertall Lakhta Center Tower
When Moscow design company Gorproject took on the task of designing the Lakhta Center’s tower, the company faced dizzying architectural and environmental challenges, including extreme climate conditions and Russia’s rigorous energy and safety requirements. Ultimately, the firm succeeded in designing a 4.3-million-square-foot mixed-use complex with LEED Platinum–level sustainability for Russia’s gas giant Gazprom. The building met demanding criteria for energy efficiency, water savings, and recycling. Read the article.
2. 5 Ways to Get on Track for Net-Zero Buildings by 2030
Achieving net-zero buildings—those powered by 100% renewable energy with zero carbon emissions—may seem like a lofty goal for 2030. However, energy experts at Dekker/Perich/Sabatini (D/P/S)—an Albuquerque, New Mexico–based architecture firm specializing in green design—say it’s entirely possible to incorporate sustainable design now to slow climate change. To prioritize net-zero building by 2030, the architecture, engineering, and construction industries will need educational awareness, benchmark planning, conditional analysis, energy audits, and investment in energy-efficient solutions now to save on net costs later. Read the article.
3. 3 Top Trends Show Green-Building Technology on the Rise
According to the World Green Building Trends 2018 report, three emerging trends show green-building technology is on the rise: energy-analysis tools used at every stage, the promise of generative design, and the use of data from design through a building’s entire lifecycle. After surveying more than 2,000 professionals in architecture, engineering, and construction, Dodge Data & Analytics found that 47% of those professionals expect more than 60% of their projects to be “green” by 2021. Read the article.
4. How Positive-Energy Building Can Create Tiny Houses With a Big, Green Impact
Instead of building houses that suck up energy for heating and lighting, Polish start-up Solace House aims to do the opposite: build small homes designed to generate more energy than they use. If this type of home becomes a successful trend, it could be a great force in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, which in turn would slow the perils of climate change. These tiny houses of just 35 square meters (377 square feet) maximize efficiency from start to finish. They’re designed to require the least amount of installation work, maximize solar-energy production, and minimize heat loss or gain through exterior walls. They are also 80% recyclable. Read the article.
5. Is Industrialized Construction “Leapfrog” Technology?
When disruption pushes a new technology to the front of the pack, it’s an effect known as “leapfrogging.” This article explores the potential for industrialized construction: the concept of merging manufacturing with construction. By manufacturing single-discipline components, industrialized construction would enable offsite construction and onsite assembly, which could greatly reduce the rampant materials waste in the construction industry. Read the article.
6. BIM Helps Schneider Electric Slash Its Energy Bill in Grenoble, France
French company Schneider Electric doesn’t just want to meet green regulation requirements; it wants to beat them. The energy management and automation company has pledged to surpass the 2012 French Thermal Regulations targets by 20%–40% for the construction of its two new flagship buildings, as well as hit the unprecedented target of 100 out of a possible 110 LEED points. To accomplish this, Schneider Electric connects Building Information Modeling with building-automation software for highly efficient construction. It will also lower the energy bill by integrating the Internet of Things to control the building’s temperature, lighting, air quality, and power usage. Read the article.