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GREENBUILD/ABX: Meeting the Increasing Demands and Challenges of Building Green

Posted by Mike Crowder in Blog, Conference, Insights on 12/12/2017
An end wall of Kalwall panels overlooks conventioneers at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, where Greenbuild ABX 2017 was held. The panels create a vibrant and light atmosphere in addition to being a key piece of the architecture. Kalwall panels also form the clerestory atop the side walls.

The economy is humming along and that’s good news for the building industry, including the growing sector focused on green building.

That was the clear message at the annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo held recently at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. There was no shortage of builders and architects who stopped by our Kalwall booth with jobs in their pockets.

The desire to build green, stay environmentally conscious and be energy efficient grows every year. In its latest SmartMarket Report, Dodge Data and Analytics surveyed 1,000 building industry professionals globally and found that client demand for green building jumped from 35% of projects in 2012 to 40% in 2015. Almost 40% of the firms included in the survey anticipate that more than 60% of their projects will be green certified by 2018.

And it’s not just new projects. The USGBC named a more focused effort on existing building as one of its top five green building trends for 2017.

Retrofit projects are not always easy, but the payoff in energy savings is significant. Passive building designs that maximize the use of daylight and minimize heat gain during the summer and heat loss during the winter, either in retro fit or new construction, are no longer optional.

As we continue to be more demanding of how we build, new challenges emerge. Codes are becoming more stringent. The way we look at a building’s envelope needs to adjust. One of the most noticeable transformations revolves around rooftop skylights.

Some codes are limiting the amount of skylights to be 30% of the rooftop. While this prescriptive method may work with glass encased skylights, a more performance-based method is required for translucent sandwich panels that offer superior thermal performance while providing museum-quality daylighting™ to illuminate interiors and reduce energy consumption.

A performance-based method takes into account the R-value and the U-factor to give a more accurate value of a product’s energy efficiency.

The collaboration between Greenbuild and ABX made this convention interesting, putting the spotlight not just on green building, but meeting the challenge of creating environmentally positive products that meet the aesthetic needs of projects.

We know we have strived to meet that challenge and were gratified when our new line of panel grids stirred up much interest from architects continually looking for ways to blend beauty and energy efficiency.

The biggest challenge for all of us as we work to meet the increasing demand for green building is making it affordable. In fact, in the SmartMarket Report, higher perceived first costs is the No. 1 obstacle for green building in 11 countries, including the U.S.

So, while we left Greenbuild with the good feeling that projects are in the works and environmentally conscious building is desired, we need to keep an eye on possible over-regulation that could drive up costs and deter even more green building.