Most green buildings incorporate technology that changes the way electrical power is consumed. As green building processes gain momentum, essential contractors deeper behind the scenes installing new technology and making it work.
The green and smart building uptick has been helped by talk of a nationwide infrastructure plan that would focus on incorporating green technology. Federal and state governments are helping.
Some industry leaders are confident that the extra cost of green building is incidental relative to the overall expected benefit and return on investment.
Brandon Meyers, president of construction company SpawGlass’ Houston division, told the Houston Chronicle last year that it is not too expensive to incorporate new elements into a building and make it green. He added that the long-term cost of ownership favors the green initiatives, and the payback could be quick.
New tools to plan and estimate
More tools today use building information modeling (BIM) to efficiently plan wire and cableway paths for better material planning and estimating.
For example, the LayoutFAST tool set from Schneider Electric, Andover, Mass., is used by specifiers, engineers and contractors to quickly design and plan cabling layouts. Schneider Electric recently introduced it to the Canadian market.
Schneider Electric touts LayoutFAST software as a necessary solution for modern building systems management. Company literature points out that electrical distribution systems are critical for an intelligent building management system (IBMS). The IBMS integrates with other systems, including mechanical and structural ones, to offer a more comprehensive design solution.
According to Schneider Electric, “mechanical, civil, HVAC and plumbing disciplines have successfully migrated to other software platforms on the market; such solutions did not meet the needs of electrical engineers. As a result, electrical designers often lacked real-time visibility into a project’s BIM model and design-build process.”
LayoutFAST incorporates electrical distribution into the mix.
Materials uptick for green building
Along with better tools to plan and estimate more efficient electrical outfitting for green and smart buildings, there is a surge in demand for the necessary materials.
According to global technology and research company Technavio, Elmhurst, Ill., the growing urban population, coupled with the world’s rapid economic and industrial development, led to an increase in demand for energy-efficient green buildings.
“Energy-efficiency is one of the most important aspects of green buildings,” the firm’s analysis states. “It is an important cost-saving component for any business, facility management or homeowner budget. Various countries are focusing on infusing energy-efficiency as a mandatory norm in their building laws. The integrated system environment in these buildings helps in meeting required energy-efficiency standards. Hence, with the rising need for energy-efficient green buildings, the demand for green building materials is also expected to increase, contributing to the green building materials market growth.”
The global green building materials market size is poised to grow by $132.13 billion by 2024, progressing at a growth rate of about 9% throughout the forecast period, according to the latest report by Technavio.
A study by Indian market analysis company Market Research Future (MRF) estimates green buildings to grow at about 14% per year until 2027.
According to the MRF study, numerous factors are attributable to the growth of green market building construction. These include supportive government policies that encourage green building construction, sustainable certifications such as LEED and the high resale value of green buildings in locations such as India. They also stated that rising consumer awareness about the benefits of living in such buildings are attractive, and the benefits include low operating and maintenance costs.
Summarily, green buildings are getting greener, not just in energy efficiency, but profit-wise—from sustainability leases to manufacturers, installers and servicers of new equipment, cabling and other materials used in new green buildings in the future.
And greener is smarter. At least that’s the way it seems for those who would inhabit such buildings. As the green gets even greener with more construction and retrofitting, there’s sure to be more opportunity for the electrical contracting market base to be part of this wave of smarter, environmentally sound buildings.