Net-Zero-Energy construction is quickly gaining popularity, and the initial investment’s often-impressive rate of return has caught the attention of larger corporate and public interests.
As Construction Dive points out, NZE buildings, which offset their energy use with on-site renewables, are on the rise in the U.S. In fact, the North American market for such projects is forecast to grow by 38.4% from 2014 to $127 billion by 2035, according to a Navigant Research report.
Efforts to include NZE strategies in state and local building codes, as well as to implement other low-energy building requirements, is helping the method gain a foothold. Still, the effort is largely concentrated among a few major players. The Coalition’s report found that the top 10 builders and developers of NZE housing in the United States and Canada are responsible for 45% of the total stock created.
Builders identified in the report include the University of California, Davis, which has its own NZE campus community; as well as the Corporation for Better Housing, whose NZE projects include a 48-unit farmworker housing project in Calistoga, CA, and a subdivision in Williams, CA.
John Tahtabrounian of OCI Design Build, which specializes in a variety of different projects including auto dealerships, does more than just offer green options. “When we begin a design-build project, among the many questions we ask is how green do you want to go, and how much savings do you want to see from the project. We discuss insulation, LED lighting, controls, HVAC equipment and more, because the infrastructure of the project can save them in the long run. Pay a little more upfront, but as you put a green roof on and put the solar panels in
place, you wonder what your rate of return will be on your investment. For the average dealership, it is considerable.”
Other savings can be had at every stage of construction. When you build a structure using green building materials, such as composite wood, recycled plastic and insulated concrete wall forms, you may not have to pay out as much on repair and maintenance costs, notes Alternative Energy Construction. Choosing to place eco-friendly bamboo flooring in your office instead of expensive hardwood flooring material will give you the same elegant look
for half the price. And you don’t have to maintain this type of flooring as often as you would the more costly alternative. The price of repairing bamboo flooring would be significantly less as well.
Integrating green building practices into the construction or remodel of your office can be done in a variety of different ways. You may want to add radiant heat flooring, large pane windows that will let heat and light in during the day, or solar panels that will help to reduce your company’s carbon footprint.
While you may have to pay more up front to get these green options added to your building, you will save hundreds of dollars in the long run and make your contribution to saving the environment at the same time.
“We look for the understanding of the owner that, if you put in X, you get Y at the end,” says John Tahtabrounian. “OCI Design Build is very accommodating about showing reports, showing analysis, the guidelines and the data to help the owner to make the right decision.”