Rising energy costs and global climate change are compelling arguments for sustainable construction. Yet some builders, developers and owners don’t see the value in green construction, particularly as it relates to their bottom line.
Good, Not Green
At the 2013 Greenprints sustainability conference, LEED founder Rob Watson suggested “eliminating ‘green’ as a modifier,” noting that “there are good buildings, and there are bad buildings…Good buildings save energy, water, time and effort — but perhaps most importantly to their occupants, they save money.”
That’s not to say that companies aren’t building green. LEED has helped spur energy-efficient construction projects globally. Two projects in Abu Dhabi stand out: the 23-story, twin LEED Platinum-certified Eco Towers and the city’s Siemens Headquarters (the first LEED Platinum office building in the Middle East).
Sustainable building is catching on in the U.S. too. More than 6,000 LEED-certified buildings are operational in the 10 LEED leading states. But that number represents a fraction of new construction, suggesting that many have yet to embrace sustainable building.
The Modular Fix
With Watson’s words in mind, modular construction is often more sustainable than traditional building and syncs with his definition of a “good building”.
- Modular projects are prefabricated offsite in a quality-controlled manufacturing environment allowing for the most efficient use of materials and reducing waste.
- Packaging (wood pallets, shrink-wrap, etc.) is reduced since materials do not need to be transported to the building site.
- Modular buildings are recyclable, since they can be moved from one place to another and repurposed.
- Energy efficiency of modular buildings is improved though high R-value insulation, high-efficiency HVAC, energy-saving lighting and dual-pane low-E windows. These go a long way toward cutting energy costs long after the construction phase.
The value of sustainable construction will become evident as time demonstrates the bottom-line impact of energy-efficient buildings.
With proof in place and as people learn what goes into making a “good building,” the demand for these products will increase. This will mobilize producers of recycled and renewable products involved in sustainable construction to offer more innovations at a reduced cost.