Renewable energy is changing the environment for the better and, as a result, construction companies across the country are jumping on the renewable bandwagon. That's right: The U.S. construction industry is setting its sights on renewable building practices.
From the production of materials to the building process itself, the construction industry is responsible for a large part of energy consumption: According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy, the country's building sector is responsible for 40 percent of primary energy consumption.
That's more than 97 quads of energy that's consumed each year due to construction taking place in the United States.
To put that number into perspective, 97 quads are 19 percent of worldwide energy consumption. Furthermore, in terms of commercial construction, roughly 90 percent of all energy used during the lifespan of a building goes to its operation and utilities.
To offset these numbers and create more environmentally-friendly building practices, construction companies across the country are turning to renewable energy.
Renewable energy in the world of construction starts with the design process. Architects are designing energy efficient homes and commercial structures that have sustainability in mind.
From structures that take advantage of natural light to renewable energy features such as rooftop solar panels, smart windows that block out UV rays, and ultra-energy-efficient HVAC systems and water heaters, architects are going the extra mile with their renewable energy building designs.
Low-impact building materials
As mentioned before, the manufacturing of construction materials makes up a large part of the energy consumption equation. The U.S. construction industry is looking to reduce the amount of energy that goes into each building project by using low-impact building materials.
In the article appropriately titled, Thought leader series: Renewable energy and its effect on the construction industry, Kim Parr discusses the fact that green construction is no longer a niche market: As a result, manufacturers are setting their sights on building materials that don't take much energy to produce or deliver.
Recycled and repurposed building materials such blown paper insulation and locally sourced composite lumber are great examples of low-impact building materials.
In addition, modular building is also helping to reduce the waste and transportation associated with energy consumption in the construction industry.
Updated building standards
The construction industry has changed immensely over the past few decades and with change comes new building standards.
Such is the case with LEED certified structures. LEED certification, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, ensures all building practices use efficient resources and are environmentally responsible.
LEED certification was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and is growing in popularity across communities nationwide.
In addtion, the Associated General Contractors of America Environmental Services holds a Contractors Environmental Conference each year to educate construction companies about renewable and earth-friendly building practices.
When it comes to energy-conscious construction, it's plain to see that construction companies nationwide are concentrating on renewable energy and sustainability.
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