15 Jun Green Building Design Is Becoming Even Greener
When most people think about green design, they think about buildings that consume minimal energy resources.
But, imagine a green commercial building that actually produces energy.
It’s not science fiction – in fact, it’s happening in Waterloo, Ontario. A new office building, known as Evolv1, is currently under construction in Waterloo’s David Johnston Research & Technology Park. When it’s finished in 2018, it will be one of the most energy-efficient buildings in Canada.
This “groundbreaking” project “aims to change the way offices are built,” says the Waterloo Region Record.
The $35 million project is a collaboration between Sustainable Waterloo Region, development company Cora Group and anchor tenant EY Canada.
The commercial building will be what’s known as a “net positive energy building” as opposed to the more common energy neutral green building. Net positive energy means that the building will generate enough energy for heating, cooling and electricity — with some spare change left at the end of the day. This excess energy can either be be sold or used for other tenant energy needs, like powering vehicle charging stations.
Evolv1 is being built with the latest in energy efficient materials, including triple-glazed glass, LED lighting, natural lighting, solar panels and a green wall to improve air quality. Renewable geothermal energy is used to heat and cool the building. It’s located near the new Ion light rail transit system so workers will be able to commute without driving cars.
Energy-neutral commercial buildings are fairly common now. But net positive construction has the potential to disrupt the green design industry — in a very good way.
Beyond Canada, green commercial development is becoming standard practice globally. Dubai has become a world leader in sustainable building methods: the majority — 81 percent — of the city’s ongoing office development projects meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) commercial construction standards.
The worldwide demand for greener workspaces is being driven by investors, tenants, government policy makers and urban planners. Most of the workforce is now made up of millennials and Gen X-ers, who place high value on living and working more sustainably.
In the United States, meanwhile, the California Energy Commission’s Title 24 energy-efficiency standards mandate that new commercial buildings not only maximize energy efficiency but also minimize water consumption because of ongoing drought conditions. For example, office developer Boston Properties is building a 17-story building on Boylston St. in San Francisco that will have a rainwater harvesting system designed to significantly reduce water consumption.
As green building design continues to evolve from zero consumption to energy production, what can we look forward to next?
Industrial real estate management company Prologis launched its first battery storage project this year, which it sees as the next stage in sustainability practices for industrial buildings. The company designs and maintains highly energy efficient buildings, but tenants still pay for utilities and energy usage.
“Industrial warehouses are viable candidates for alternative energy systems, especially photovoltaic solar cells and battery storage,” the company said.
One thing is certain: this innovative sector has come a long way, and the innovations will keep on rolling.