For my first blog series of the year, I’m discussing what I see as the trends that will have the biggest impact on construction in 2016. In the previous post for this series we looked at how an influx of energy workers it helping to address the ongoing labor shortage in the construction industry.
In this 3rd post for the series, I’m going to dive into the Green trend that has been building over the last several years within the construction industry. We will look at how something that started out as a “nice to have” for high end non residential projects is quickly turning into a “must have” on construction projects at every level.
I’ll also point out a few of the product lines and other new technologies that should have an immediate impact in 2016.
Green construction has been around for a number of years now but, until recently, the most cutting edge products and processes had been focused on residential construction. Add to that a hefty price tag on a per project basis and things looked impractical for non residential projects. The good news is that thanks to tax breaks and other incentives that come with economies of scale, green construction has reached a groundswell point that makes it practical in commercial construction.
New Products Hitting Their Stride This Year
Here are a few products that are helping to keep green construction practical this year
Thanks to the LEED green building program, there’s now a pathway for standardization for 3rd party verifications. Unlike government attempts at standardization in other industries like healthcare or agriculture, the LEED program features a great mixture of market driven innovations and a performance based benchmarks. Design software that’s based on the LEED initiative is paving the way for the next generation of green buildings.
Even though energy costs have dropped consistently over the past several months, commercial buildings still churn through a lot of energy on a daily basis. Thankfully, recycled and sustainable insulation products are helping to defray both the up front costs, and the ongoing expense of maintenance that’s associated with non residential construction.
Often referred to as “smart glass”, this is another energy saving technology that has finally become affordable enough for large projects. Even though the initial investment can still be on the high side – with energy savings in the 8% to 10% per year range, buildings that utilize this powerful new technology have a competitive advantage when trying to attract new tenants.
The photovoltaic movement is already having a huge impact on the solar panel industry. While traditional solar panels carry a high price tag and have to be placed over or around traditional building materials, photovoltaic panels can replace existing windows, skylights, and other transparent materials. Buildings outfitted with this technology can produce enough energy on a typical day to either power the business needs of inhabitants, or send energy back to the greater grid. Once there are more advanced battery technologies available, this technology has the potential to really change the game!
The use of mycoform technology has to be one of the cooler things taking place in the construction industry. While this is technically still an experimental technology, the potential is pretty mindblowing. It’s hard to imagine an entire building created out of nothing more than agricultural waste but it looks like this kind of far fetched fantasy is near to becoming a reality.
In a follow up to this post, I’m going to highlight some other trends and technologies worth watching in 2016.
On a side note, with spring right around the corner I’ve started a raffle with a $400 Yeti® cooler as the grand prize. If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in a chance to win – you can sign up here!
- Tyson Conrad