As we begin 2017 and look around at the construction landscape, one thing is for certain, green building is the future of the construction industry.
Energy efficient, eco-friendly or sustainable, no matter how you spin it, these are trends that are not going away anytime soon. The business of going green is growing rapidly and being demanded by clientele and in many ways becoming more expected by regulators.
With government agencies, universities, property developers and corporate real estate managers incorporating green design measures into their buildings and facilities, client demand is sure to increase and, in my mind, embracing green building materials and trends will only benefit a construction businesses moving forward.
The coming year is expected to see continued advancement in green building products, like recycled steel, natural insulation, smart windows, eco friendly flooring, air purifying and zero-VOC paints, efficient lights, and whole home energy monitoring systems and mobile apps.
Solar power products will also be on that list. In fact, many regions have passed policies to implement aggressive renewable portfolio standards. This is expected to increase the development of better, more cost efficient products. It’s been said that in the coming decade, solar power will radically alter how buildings are designed, constructed and operated.
I think a good example of what the industry can expect moving forward is the recently introduced Powerwall, a solar roof panel system and at-home battery that was released in October. Its panels are manufactured as glass tiles that seamlessly integrate into the roof and provide enough energy to power an entire home.
Concrete alternatives are also expected to take off. Concrete is the most used building material in the world and there are a number of researchers around the world who are looking to develop new products that have reduced carbon emissions and reduce the need for constant repair of cracks and gaps.
In 2016, Dutch and Belgian scientists collaborated to create a self-healing concrete. Researchers added a strain of living bacteria organisms that are capable of tolerating the high levels of pH in concrete. These organisms remain dormant until a crack exposes it to moisture or air. This causes the spores to germinate and feed on the calcium lactate found in the cement. The bacteria then produces limestone, essentially healing itself. This product is expected to be released on the market early this year.
Water conservation products, such as low-flow faucets, showerheads and compostable toilets, I think will also continue to enjoy strong demand in 2017 with growing awareness around the dwindling freshwater supply and increasing drought conditions. Landscaping demands are also expected to move towards low-water plants and native species.