What are Energy Efficient Buildings?

Jane Marsh - February 28, 2022

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The world is adopting sustainable values, increasing the demand for low-impact technology. A significant portion of carbon emissions come from the residential and commercial building sectors, creating ecological limitations. Construction professionals can increase atmospheric conservation efforts by developing energy-efficient buildings.

Decreasing a structure’s power use can shrink its carbon footprint and utility costs. Companies are also improving the efficiency rates of their office and manufacturing buildings to meet eco-consumer demands. Using the net-zero design and green technology, builders can develop sustainable structures, reducing global emissions.  

The Net-Zero Design

The net-zero concept is relatively new to the field of environmental science. It is a building technique that uses unique design features and energy-efficient devices to develop a self-sufficient structure. Net-zero buildings create as much energy as they use, decreasing their contribution to resource exploitation.

They also create zero greenhouse gas emissions, relying solely on renewable energy sources, increasing climate change prevention efforts. Nearly 80% of America’s power supply comes from fossil fuels. During combustion, the fuel sources release air pollutants, interfering with Earth’s natural temperature control process.  

The planet organically produces heat from solar radiation. It uses the heat to warm its surface, supporting the global ecosystem’s stability. The atmosphere then absorbs excess energy and sends it to space, maintaining life-sufficient temperatures.

When greenhouse gases pollute the atmosphere, they increase Earth’s ability to produce heat. They also contain unnecessary energy in the environment, filtering it back through the heat-production process. Over time, emissions increase the global temperature, creating adverse environmental effects.

Construction professionals can minimize the enhanced greenhouse effect by building more net-zero structures. They may use renewable energy systems, energy-efficient construction techniques and smart devices to improve a building’s self-sufficiency. There are six ways one can enhance a structure’s energy efficiency.

1. Solar Paneled Roofs

The most common net-zero building feature is a solar-paneled rooftop. The green technology creates enough emission-less electricity to support general energy demands. Solar power derives from the sun, a non-depletable resource, limiting resource exploitation.

Adding solar panels to a building can significantly improve its efficiency rates, minimizing stress on its systems. They also reduce an individual’s reliance on the conventional energy grid, providing clean electricity through outages and other energy-limiting occurrences.

Panels may additionally shrink a building owner’s carbon footprint and utility bill. Solar energy is currently the most cost-effective power source on the market. Professionals can install the technology, reducing atmospheric degradation and enhancing energy efficiency.

2. Increasing Natural Lighting

Construction workers may also increase a building’s access to natural lighting, improving its power efficiency. The electricity used for lighting created about 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Individuals may reduce their contribution to air pollution by installing many windows.

Skylights and high-placed windows decrease a building’s reliance on energy-reliant lighting systems. Increasing natural lighting indoors also improves one’s mental health. When companies create energy-efficient workplaces with windows, they can boost their employee’s well-being and morale.

3. Creating an Airtight Envelope

Designing a building’s envelope to reduce conditioned air loss also improves its efficiency levels. A structure’s envelope signifies the regions of potential energy loss, like its windows, roof, doors and exterior walls. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems use nearly 40% of a commercial building’s energy supply.  

Some construction professionals use the modular building method, creating a tighter lock between walls and other features. Individuals also use sealant materials to reduce air loss around windows and doorframes. Builders can also add effective insulation materials, further limiting HVAC-related energy loss.

4. Improving Insulation

Professionals place sustainable insulation materials in attics and crawl spaces when developing energy-efficient buildings. When heat rises, it looks for ways to escape through cracks and other structural deficiencies. Adding insulation minimizes heat loss by containing conditioned air and forcing it back through a building.

Individuals may increase the sustainability and efficiency of their properties by adding cellulose insulation. The material derives from recycled newspaper, treated with borate to reduce its flammability. When using cellulose insulation, builders can shrink a structure’s carbon footprint while minimizing landfill waste.

5. Installing Smart Devices

Builders may additionally increase the energy efficiency of a structure by installing smart devices. Smart thermostats effectively reduce HVAC emissions by maintaining low-power indoor temperatures. They access regional weather readings using a Wi-Fi connection, using the data to minimize indoor energy use.

The technology also uses motion detection sensors to turn the thermostat off in vacant buildings. Professionals can also reduce energy-related emissions by adding efficient lighting technology.  

6. Adding LED Lights

Another common feature of energy-efficient buildings is light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. They rely on 75% less electricity than conventional incandescent bulbs. Additionally, LED lights last 25 times longer, producing less landfill waste over time.

Is an Energy Efficient Building Right for You?

If you are a business owner looking to enhance your company’s sustainability, investing in an energy-efficient office or manufacturing building may help you achieve your goals. Professionals can meet eco-consumer demands when shrinking the carbon footprint of their production facilities. Constructing a net-zero building can take time, so some business owners may install energy-efficient appliances before completely remodeling their structures. 

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.