As energy prices worldwide continue to rise, the importance of sustainable building design is more and more apparent. The more popular these building trends become, the more certain technologies emerge as leading sustainable solutions. These are five of the top sustainable technologies being used today to reduce energy bills and minimize environmental impact.
HVAC Monitoring Systems
Because heat fluctuates over the course of a day, older HVAC systems often had difficulty maintaining a consistent interior temperature. While most modern climate control systems automatically adjust to changes in interior temperature there are many other factors which can affect the efficiency of these systems.Now, however, there aresmart HVAC systems on the market which allow building owners to wirelessly monitor and adjust a wide range of vital system statistics, including the system coolant pressure.
While it impossible to replicate the benefits of natural daylight, there are many situations where it just is not feasible to integrate skylights or other daylighting features. In these situations, building owners have begun to integrate LED “skylights” designed to mimic broad spectrum sunlight. These systems often adjust light levels in conjunction with the time of day to replicate the changes in sunlight over time and deliver more of the benefits that exposure to daylight provides.
Low Emittance Windows
Glass is one of the most common materials used in modern buildings. Unfortunately, despite their versatility, windows allow for a lot of heat transference, raising HVAC costs. Low emittance or low-e windows are one of the best methods for reducing this issue, creating a more sustainable building design. The glass of these windows is laminated on both sides with a thin thermal coating which reflects short-wave infrared radiation, or, in other words, heat. This helps maintain a stable indoor temperature without using climate control systems.
While the passively designed skylights that consumers are used to have been around for decades, active daylighting methods have also existed largely unnoticed for years. Solar tracking skylights use various proprietary technologies to follow the sun throughout the day, providing up to 10.5 hours of light per day, as opposed to the average of four hours most passive systems provide.
Zero Energy Buildings
Maybe the biggest trend in sustainable building design is the concept of a zero energy, or net-zero building. The U.S. Department of Energy defines a net-zero building as "an energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy." These buildings power themselves through a combination of solar panels, wind turbines, and daylighting systems, and draw zero electricity from the grid.