Green Innovation and Green Implementation
As a contractor, one of the biggest parts of staying competitive involves always keeping an eye open for new and innovative building materials and techniques. With the worldwide market for green building materials projected to jump from $116 billion to $254 billion over the next 7 years, I think it’s fair to say that eco-friendly is a safe innovation to get behind.
While green building comes in many different shapes and sizes, many of the most innovative ideas can be implemented no matter what the scope of the project. Chief among these ideas are new materials like nail base for walls and solar energy shingles. The former was originally developed for the roofing industry by the Cornell Corporation in Wisconsin, and consists of a sheet of OSB that has a side bonded with foam. Unlike a traditional structural insulated panel, nailbase has OSB on one side instead of two. The new ThermaCal Wall can be installed on the exterior of a sheathed wall as a part of new construction or a retrofitting. Meanwhile, as developed by a small business called Powerhouse Solar Shingles, the other sustainable product offers a solar-panel setup that forgoes the traditional and unsightly aluminum rack. Instead, power shingles themselves act as solar conductors. While the newness and uniqueness of the design makes them slightly less efficient (12% compared to 18%) than conventional crystalline PV modules, time and advances in technology would seem to have the design poised for success.
Of course, green innovation is nothing without implementation. Interestingly, one of greening’s greatest proponents sits in the heart of Sin City. The Palazzo Resort was designed with a footprint that is 42% open to the outdoors. While numerous pools, fountains, and landscaping might seem the opposite of eco-friendly in the middle of the desert; the Palazzo undertook a massive water conservation effort that cuts water usage by over 8 million gallons per year. The key to this effort is found in a large-scale version of the drip-irrigation system found in drought-ravaged communities throughout the country. Built underground, these systems recycle from the shower and laundry to create beautiful lawns and gardens while saving on both money and water. Because of this green features, the hotel was recently named the most eco friendly hotel in America.
It’s clear that green building materials and processes are changing the way that construction projects are designed and built. As contractors, it could very well be that embracing the shift toward building better buildings has us poised to help build a better planet. These buildings like the new Las Vegas hotels are continuing to innovate the industry. It is important to keep this innovation trend moving.