Green Trends that Will Affect the Way You Build

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The commitment to green building efforts remains strong in the construction industry. Around the world, building with “green” processes is a priority, with companies seeking materials that have recycled content, are highly energy efficient, nontoxic, durable, and include lifecycle and performance data. According to the Dodge Data & Analytics SmartMarket Report on World Green Building Trends, 28% of survey respondents said more than 60% of their projects are green.

Image: Autodesk Redshift

The November 2021 report reflects the importance entities are placing on green buildings for reasons that include climate, health and the economy. The report found that green buildings help organizations meet commitments and maximize efficiency, resilience, health, and sustainability.


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Despite studies that have shown the cost of producing a green building can be 1%+ greater than a general building, companies revealed a number of factors that are driving the commitment to “green”:

  • market demand;
  • decreasing operating costs (a 5-year cost savings of nearly 17% – two-thirds of respondents felt this was the most critical benefit);
  • lowering carbon/greenhouse gas emissions (companies are shifting their focus to address reducing energy consumption and the carbon footprint of building projects);
  • reducing consumption of water and energy (two-thirds felt reduced energy consumption is the most important environmental issue to be addressed);
  • improving indoor air quality and office layouts (over half felt the pandemic has directly impacted the design of HVAC systems so they provide better indoor air quality).
Image: World Green Building Council

Future trends identified by the report that will affect the green construction movement:

  • 3D printing – Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing can combine polymers, ceramics, metals, hemp fibers, bamboo, wood dust, and composites to reduce construction waste and increase recycling options. Consumer demand and investor focus will drive this technology forward.
  • Design for Disassembly – Over half of respondents – architects, owners and investors – are familiar with DfD, which considers how a building project can be designed so its parts can be reused at the end of the building’s functional life. Increased use of this method will require more interest on the part of owners, collaboration with manufacturers and better education.   
  • Design for Manufacture and Assembly – Using DfMA processes, companies construct building components offsite and assemble them onsite. The process can provide better schedule certainty, safer working conditions, less construction waste, and better energy performance. About half of respondents were familiar with DfMA, indicating it is still an emerging practice.
  • Embodied carbon – 82% of respondents are aware of the concept of embodied carbon, while 22% are actively seeking to reduce it. Embodied carbon includes emissions from manufacture, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of building materials. Construction projects are front-end carbon loaded rather than accrued over the life of a building.
  • Green renovation – About half of respondents perform green renovation/retrofit projects, which have been shown to result in 17% savings in operating costs over a five-year period. Green retrofits can increase the value of a building by more than 9%. Investors consider this a way to “future proof” their assets.
  • Resilience – Over half of those working on mostly green projects are planning to add resilience strategies into their projects in the next five years – minimizing vulnerability to extreme events like earthquakes, fires, floods, and hurricanes.
  • Tracking performance – 79% of companies that use green building practices track building performance using at least one metric.

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