Net zero buildings, which are buildings that produce as much energy as they use, are gaining popularity throughout the world. The earth has a lot of energy to share with us, but actually harnessing that energy is a science that’s still developing. When people are willing to invest in energy manufacturing technologies, scientists gain what is otherwise unattainable inside a laboratory: real world examples in real world situations.
One of the greatest examples of diving deep and making a commitment to sustainability is Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving, TX. By employing geothermal heating, solar panels, wind turbines, rain water harvesting, and smart solar management, the 152,000 square foot school is the largest public school in the country to obtain zero energy status.
They didn’t just dip their toe into producing energy, either, they dove right in. According to Architect Magazine, school officials spent roughly $3.75 million of their $30 million on the design strategies and energy-efficient technologies. So what does $3.75 million earn them? The typically middle school in Texas spends roughly $200,000 a year on energy and this new facility only costs $60,000 a year to operate.
A total of 53 geothermal wells that were 250 feet deep underground were used in the design, accommodating around 590 tons of air conditioning for the building. That totals over 50 miles of 1” pipe. Bosch FHP Geothermal Heat Pumps ranging from 1 to 20 tons were incorporated in the design in order to convert the heated or cooled water from the geothermal wells into conditioned air for the building.
A 65,000 square foot solar plant that contained almost 3,000 solar photovoltaic panels produces about 800,000 kWh per year. By employing all of these technologies, the building not only achieved the aforementioned zero energy status, it was also awarded as LEED Gold Certified.
For more info, check out the video below of the finished product:
3D printing technology faces major issues when it is required to leave the shelter of a warehouse and step foot on a construction job site. 3D printers are extremely large, heavy, and rely on precise calibration for accuracy. Even the first 3D printed office building in Dubai, which was completed last year, had to actually have its components printed off site and assembled on site. But, Apis Cor, a 3D printing company, believes it has created the technology to print a full structure completely on site.
The concept of solar roadways has been in the news a lot recently. Using the millions of miles of roadways throughout the world to also create power seems like a no brainer, the asphalt and concrete we’re using now aren’t really accomplishing anything more than handling the traffic on the road. But, there’s also a very strong reason why those products are used: they’re strong, reliable, and relatively durable. Still, many researchers believe there is a lot of unharnessed potential for roads and the world now has a very strong test subject for the future of solar roadways in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France.
3D printed construction has been on top of the news the past few years, but we have yet to truly see many real world applications of the process. Last year, Dubai unveiled a completed 3D printed office building, which they say was built in only 19 days, but news has been pretty slow until the world’s first 3D printed bridge was completed recently.
It’s no secret that the United States dominates when it comes to LEED certified construction projects. The US actually has more total gross square meters and number of LEED projects than the the other top 10 countries combined, by almost 3 times, totaling 336.84 million gross square meters over 27,699 LEED projects! China, Canada, and India are ranked number 2, 3, and 4, respectively.
The US Green Building Council recently released their annual top 10 list of states for LEED construction in 2016.
Green building is no longer something that can be ignored. According to the USGBC, green building will account for ⅓ of all construction projects by the year 2018, which is now only 1 short year away. Construction is one of the leading industries in regards to the production of greenhouse gases, most notably due to the production of cement, which produces an estimated 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions alone. There are many companies throughout developing new techniques and building products to help reduce the industry’s impact, so here’s a list of 6 products that caught our eye in 2016.
Green building is big business these days and it’s expected to account for 1/3 of all construction projects in the United States by the year 2018. LEED, being the poster child for green construction and the world’s most widely used green building rating system, is expected to directly contribute to 386,000 jobs by 2018, as well. Though green building is a concept used significantly throughout the world, as seen in projects like the world’s first zero energy hotel, the United States absolutely dominates the industry with respect to LEED.
Concrete is one of the world’s favorite building materials; it’s strong, simple to mix, and generally widely available. Its dirty little secret has always been centered around one of its main ingredients: cement. To make cement, crushed rock and other ingredients are fed into a kiln that heats the components at temperatures reaching 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Those extreme temperatures cause large amounts of carbon dioxide to be released into the air and, combined with the carbon dioxide that’s produced just to burn the fossil fuels to heat the kiln, it makes cement one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases in the world, 5% in total.
One of the toughest aspects of construction in heavily populated or close-quarters areas is the control of noise and other pollutants. The public’s worries about these items can stall or kill projects before they begin. If and when they project actually begins, complaints can roll into the governing agencies causing project delays and/or fines.
Arup, a design, engineering, and consulting team in the United Kingdom, has been developing a living wall system, which they think can reduce the noise and improve the air quality surrounding ongoing construction projects.
World’s fairs have been held in varying locations across the globe since 1844 and are responsible for some of the most memorable buildings and structures that still stand today. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was originally built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was built to coincide with the 1939 World Fair, and Seattle’s Space Needle was designed and built for the 1962 World’s Fair (you can check out photos of the construction here), just to name a few.
At the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, 16 homes were constructed for display to promote new building products and materials to the fair-goers.
Billions of dollars are spent by cities and countries to prepare for summer and winter Olympics. Many stadiums, housing and other infrastructure are built to not only be able to handle the games, but also the enormous amount of people that will eventually inhabit the city for a few weeks. But, that’s just it, it’s only for a few weeks. What happens after the games are over and there’s no longer a need for an International Broadcast Center or a handball venue? In the past, the answer has been to let the area rot away and be a hotbed of vandalism, but Rio has taken a different approach.