Trends in Sustainable Residential Construction Technology
The green movement has been a major trend in construction technology, if only because green energy translates to major savings on a utility bill. And while environmentalists may wish more progress was being made, Canada has been comparatively proactive when it comes to implementing sustainable solutions. Anyone interested in the residential real estate market should take note of how homes are being affected by the movement, and what it will likely mean for the average buyer in the coming decades.
Heating and Cooling
In a country that sees its fair share of clouds, developers are exploring how geothermal heating and cooling can be a sustainable answer. This system uses pumps and a water solution to draw heat from about 30 meters below the surface of the Earth. (The temperature below is always 15° C, no matter how hot or cold it is above.)
With the help of a water solution and some electricity, homeowners can power their air treatment without decimating oil or gas reserves. The energy used for geothermal heating and cooling is minimal compared to that of traditional systems and the utility savings can offset the high costs of installation.
Geothermal heating may have grabbed a few headlines as of late, but this isn't to say that solar panels have been dismissed. The improvements made to solar panels over the years have been drastic, allowing homeowners to extract more energy from less sunlight. Plus, solar panels have greatly reduced in cost over the years, which may make them an up-and-coming trend for more areas in the future.
Globalization may have made it easier for Canadians to receive foreign goods, but the growing awareness of its strain on the environment is starting to cut into its effects. To reduce the energy spent on transport, Canada has seen more local production of certain building materials. Compressed bricks are being made from Canadian soil, and certain types of bamboo are being grown in local farms. Homebuilders are also installing water run-off systems to protect vulnerable materials and to limit the potential for water damage.
Rainwater conservation is really starting to take shape in Canada:
- Both urban and rural households can take advantage of harvesting systems.
- Rural households prefer rainwater to dam or river water.
- Harvesting systems cut down on water bills and usage.
- Many older homes can be retrofitted with this technology.
Rainwater can be used to do more than just water lawns—it can actually be used to eliminate treated water entirely when implemented correctly. Homes that can use solar panels and harvest systems take a huge step toward the zero-waste goal. The technology also paves the way for more retrofitting projects to the vast majority of homes in the country. (Older homes that make use of potentially hazardous materials, such as asbestos, are typically ineligible for water harvesting systems.)
A New Era of Recycling
Recycling hasn't always had the best reputation in Canada, especially when people consider how much energy it costs to reuse certain materials. However, when it comes to home building, people are finding some innovative ways to take advantage of old concepts. Some companies are making bricks out of a mix of sand and animal blood, while others are turning old jeans into effective insulation.
Homebuilders can opt for floors made from old wine corks or tires, or walls made from old bottles. Plus, these recycling projects are taking less time to complete with a little help from manufacturers. For example, Heineken has debuted a new bottle with recessed sides and an adjusted neck. This makes it easier for the bottles to be vertically stacked for maximum stability.
Eliminating Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)
A VOC is anything that can be considered toxic to people either during or after the construction of the home. For example, the fumes of paint after it dries are caused by the emission of a VOC. VOCs can also be found in the glue of wallpaper, in the caulk of the ceiling, or in the carpet adhesive.
VOCs used to be extremely common in home building, but this doesn't make the use of VOCs safe. They're bad for the environment and dangerous for the resident's health. These irritants can aggravate certain breathing conditions, such as asthma or allergies.
The dangers of VOC have led to more green alternatives on the scene. For example, paint can be made with the help of better organic materials, like milk and lime. Adhesives can be made with natural resins rather than harmful chemicals. Homebuilders may have shunned these materials in the past due to their perceived weaknesses, but the techniques used to create these materials have vastly improved over the years.
Builders of homes in Grayling Terrace in Canada aren't necessarily looking for smart gadgets that will tell a person how to save energy, they're looking for technology that will eliminate the need to conserve altogether. As these trends develop, the residential real estate market will slowly adjust to fit new expectations.