Build Efficient New Construction
Building and designing affordable, energy-efficient buildings and homes is possible and an important tool in reducing greenhouse gases (GHG). Some methods to consider when building new construction:
Smart with Smart Design: Cost-effective zero net energy homes begin with smart design. The building or home should be designed so that builders and subcontractors can implement as cost-effectively as possible. Detailed communication between the builder and designer will ensure that these critical details don’t fall through the cracks.
Super-Seal and Insulate the Building Envelope: Super-sealing the building envelope is the single most cost-effective measure builders can take to improve the energy efficiency of a building or home. Several proven, air-sealing approaches are available. After making the house airtight, super insulating the house may be the second most cost-effective strategy for creating an efficient building or home.
Use Highly Insulated Windows and Doors: Windows and doors are like big energy holes in a well insulated, airtight building envelope and are the third most cost-effective opportunity for making a home energy efficient. Control window and door heat loss and gain by selecting appropriate window and door products, carefully locating them, and optimizing their size and orientation.
Select an Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling System: Highly-efficient, cost-effective, heating and cooling systems are essential when building an energy efficient building or home. Water heating is often the largest energy expense in a home after heating and cooling. So it is important for designers and builders to select and locate efficient water heating technology, along with other measures, to minimize hot water use.
Implement Efficiency in Material Design: Eliminating material waste at the design stage leads to a reduction of greenhouse gases, particularly reducing steel and cement use in construction. A number of eco-friendly building materials have emerged due to an increased demand for sustainable alternatives including bamboo, cork, and sheep’s wool insulation.
Reuse Building Materials and Components: The climate benefits of recycling and reducing building components, such as virgin steel, which would lead to a reduction of GHG emissions. Though it’s important to note that reusable building materials are unlikely to meet the demand for new construction in the short-term. However, reusing at least a fraction of structural steel in construction phases would advance long-term sustainability.
Switch High-Emission Materials to Sustainable Timber: Timber construction has been gaining popularity as a way to reduce materials emissions and utilize local and sustainably managed forests. Sidewalk Labs made headlines earlier this year when it unveiled a master plan to build a futuristic smart city on the waterfront of Toronto made entirely of mass timber.
Use Low Carbon Cement: Concrete is one of the most carbon-intensive construction materials as the production of its cement component requires extreme heat and releases a great deal of CO2. Using low-carbon alternatives and “green” carbon to traditional cement would cut GHG emissions.
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