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Green Building Trends We’re Keen on for 2014

- By Rachel Aaron -

Some of us were lucky to still be on vacation last week so we feel fully rejuvenated for a new year. We don’t know about you but we had a really exciting 2013, and are kicking off 2014 with a bang. Below are some green building trends we’ll be tracking with a careful eye:

Expanded Use of Data

Data is becoming an increasingly important tool to monitor energy consumption, manage facilities, and optimize the performance of green buildings. Larger cities in the United States are starting to mandate the owners of large buildings to report annual energy use including New York, Washington DC, Austin, Seattle, and San Francisco. Data will play a large role in this. We also predict that more cities will start to mandate this type of reporting as local governments and businesses are becoming increasingly aware of what the impact of their operations have on the environment.

Automation technologies will also become more prevalent as they are becoming easier to use and more affordable. Data from these tools will be used to inform facility management, building services information and mitigating energy waste.

Of course green building isn’t the only place where data is becoming important. We at CarbonCure have been tracking data since our early days and we will only increase our efforts to be a data driven company this coming year.

Greening of Existing Buildings

Green building is not just about building new buildings, it is also about improving what is already part of the built environment. Half of the firms surveyed in the Global Green Building Trends Report had projects for green retrofits to an existing building over the next three years. Certifications for LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M) have already exceeded new construction certifications in terms of total floor area (USGBC). With a shorter payback period and similar expectations for reduced operating costs, as well as increased building values compared to new green buildings, its easy to see why green renovations are becoming a priority for existing structures. According to sustainablebusiness.com, the fastest growth in green retrofits will be at universities and non-profits.

Green Building Mandates

Expect to see more green building mandates come into effect this year. New carbon reduction requirements in California as well as the City of Seattle mean that green building will be a priority dictated by the public sector. Many cities are mandating that commercial building owners must disclose actual green building performance to the public at large, as well as new tenants and buyers; we expect that the expanded use of data will be a key part of this trend.

Expect that more cities will walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Many of the cities that have mandated green building performance reporting will also begin to track environmental benefits of public buildings as well. Additionally, we know of at least one city, San Francisco, that has mandated green building guidelines for all future public buildings. Let us know if you hear of any more!

Avoiding Red List Chemicals

Having released the first HPD (Health Product Declaration) for any concrete product in North America, we are especially interested in this trend. LEED v4 was released at Greenbuild in November 2013, and for teams looking to pursue LEED certification, architects, engineers, and contractors will use HPDs to determine a material’s health impact. Several firms, such as Google and Perkins & Will, have also issued Red Lists of chemicals that cannot be included in their building projects.

LEED will begin to award points for avoiding materials proven to be harmful to human health (20 HPDs will provide one LEED point). LEED will also be awarding points for avoiding products that are harmful to the environment (20 EPDs will provide one LEED point). We expect that this trend of material transparency will continue, with manufacturers being more open about their product contents as they look to differentiate their products and meet the growing demand for transparent information by architects.

Its going to be an exciting 2014, Happy New Year everyone!

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