Demystifying Sustainable Building
Energy consumption in buildings usually accounts for about 20-40% of all the energy consumed in countries. As a result of this, there is need to invest in a sustainable building environment with an emphasize on building renovations so that energy consumption is reduced. This study aims at assessing various factors that need to be considered so that to make informed decisions in the field (Robichaud et. al, 2010, p56).
The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method assesses the environmental load of processes during its entire life cycle from its conception to death. This tool is used to assess buildings. Based on the provisions of ISO 140140 and has four steps defining the scope and goal, creation of inventory, assessing the impact and then finally interpreting the results (Robichaud et. al, 2010, p50).To start with the goal and scope of such a sustainable building must be outlined by defining the purpose as well as system boundaries.
The Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) is also an important part of the assessment where the data is collected for the whole building on all the inputs and outputs of energy as well as mass flow, data on emissions to water, air or land (Ortiz et. al, 2009. p30). . To successfully do this, the calculations of material as well as energy input and output for a building system is done. Then the life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) is used to evaluate the potential environmental impacts and estimates the resources for the building. Later a classification of results is done by assigning the wastes as well as waste resources such as CH4, CO and CO2.
The LCI results are then transmitted into an indicator result and this is the final result. Data Quality analysis is then done such as weighting, normalization and grouping. The LCIA, has two basic methods damage oriented methods and the problem oriented method. These are the end points and the mid points respectively. The mid-point is involved with analysing the climate change, eutrophication, acidification and ozone creation. The end point on the other hand, classifies these flows into various environments, the damage and its effect on human beings. The final stage of life cycle analyses is the stage of interpretation. This stage is involved in identifying the issues that are pressing in the building sector, evaluating the findings of this assessment and then finally coming up with recommendations.
Cost is an important factor in promotion of sustainable construction better known as green technologies. Green technologies can introduce additional costs. In this case, an analyses of technologies in China was the basis of drawing conclusions. By the year 2006 buildings were consuming about 40% of the total energy in the European Union and the US. Based on this analysis, China developed the “Green Eco-housing Sample Project” so as to promote green housing in the country. The project established in 2007 used 23 eco-friendly housing in different cities (Zhang et al, 2011, p 2156). These projects, incorporated prefabrication technology and solar energy. These projects produced impressive results whereby about a 58% energy saving was achieved (Zhang et al, 2011, p 2158).
From the case study of china certain conclusions are made from the green building rating reports (Zhang et al, 2011, p 2160). To also come up with a conclusive report interview, project reports and reports from construction reviews. From these reports the main conclusion is that there is additional cost that is associated with sustainable technologies. These costs include acquisition cost, installation cost, design costs as well as the construction cost. When these costs are compared to those of conventional projects, the cost of sustainable technologies is high.
From the china case, these costs arose from the high purchase cost of such projects, learning costs for the curves, the cost of hiring highly qualified labour who were needed for such a project as well as schedules for design that included change in orders that were costly. The case study was also divided into three phases that had different design strategies. The first phase was energy saving oriented and emphasised and adopted a passive approach into design this include solar heating and use of wall insulations. The second phase utilised an active approach such as the use of floor heating that used radiant energy. The third phase incorporated the active and passive design strategy and was therefore used as a tool to showcase the effect of green technology in actual practice. Such analysis was to check the cost difference between the two design strategies.
An obvious conclusion was that there was a saving on cost by adopting a passive design. This is because such a strategy requires low skills and low reliance on advanced technology. On the other hand the active design, facilities were quite expensive and they included heat pumps and electric radiant heating. The reason for this being the innovation that goes into these features, advanced technology that requires employment of highly skilled labourers as well as limited production capabilities. As a result of this, a conclusion was drawn that these costs had created a bottleneck in China.
This problem can however be averted by using an integrated design process that is usually used for low energy buildings (Ortiz et. al, 2009. p29). Such designs have been used in USA and in Denmark. Such a move, starts with establishment of design goals which incorporates such goals as indoor environment consideration and energy performance. This is then followed by an analysis of physical performance of parameters under what is called a Green Strategy Plan.
Such a plan would turn building projects into cost effective projects by increasing sustainability of the overall design. As a result of this, a balance can be found between the impact of a green project, cost that are likely to be incurred while at the same time incorporating the needs of the developer. This would see the cost of construction coming down while at the same time increasing the professional capacity for individuals to create an experience that enables them achieve sustainable development in the property yet at a lower cost that would have been envisioned while using green technology.
With the expected advantages of going green, value management arises. This because the milestones of going green cannot be ignored such as the reduction in gas emissions, reduction of energy that is consumed as well as the reduction of natural resource consumption. Such a project, has certain cost constraints thus making it expensive with this comes the need for value management to come up with a cost effective building. Such buildings, require the use of specialised materials, documentation on environmental certification as well as specific building practices to achieve sustainability and deliver project within acceptable costs. This what value management aims at achieving.
To do this, the adjustments must be geared at coordination between disciplines, adoption of acceptable construction techniques as well as acceptable building systems. This is to reduce having to do reworks on ongoing projects this is because handling of an issue at an early stage is cheaper than working on them later during project implementation. This is because a late analysis has a significant effect on construction costs. Early adjustments, create a well-coordinated design process where all industry player that is the construction team know their roles so that the needs of the sustainable housing project are met.
The critical stages of this project are the feasibility and design stages. By having clear priorities of the project from the onset, the other phases of the project can be planned to achieve these projects. In most cases, it would be prudent to have an entire team of all the industry players that is the architect, manager and contractors but in a sustainable technology, such a move would be wise. This is due to the cost implication of such a move.
A better approach to this is having a generalist this is a person who has an exposure to all fields in construction and who could be hired at a fraction of the cost that would have been incurred by hiring an entire team. An even better idea would be to have temporary contracts for architects and other specialised staff who are needed for the design and planning phase of the project. Moreover, if a sustainable project is to succeed in value management, there is need to have acceptable financial parameters which must be set sustainably. This is because such a move, will reduce the need for change of orders and other design modifications.
In the same light, it would be prudent for the owner to set project goals prior to taking up the project. This is because in value management, there is need for upfront planning. This is because such a move will have an impact on how resources are utilised. For instance if an unsuitable site is chosen there might be problems that arise. This is because a sustainable technology project does not have room for flexibility for life cycle costs as well as other issues like assembling a qualified team.
Sustainable technology in building industry is associated with certain risks this is because such a project is very intricate and thus design process should be well coordinated failure to do so can mean that the project might fail to kick off, collapse or lead to an unplanned expenditure. Other risks include delay of delivery of the project, increased construction cost since the method uses new technology that is relatively expensive to purchase, lack of materials as well as use of materials that are untested in the construction site that might have hazardous effect on construction workers.
The stages of risk management are important in carrying out a thorough risk analyses. The first step involves risk identification. At this stage the project owner and management need to outline their likely risks. At this stage the company foresees the likely risks of implementing their project. The second stage is risk analysis where the company checks the likelihood of occurrence of the risk, impact of risk as well as prioritizing these risks in order of importance. The probability of a risk happening can be mapped with collaboration with the confidence levels of the risks. The third step is to carry out a risk response that is involved in analysing the associated impacts of the risk as well as coming up with methods of dealing with them. The final stage of this process is risk monitoring in this stage the company reviews its risks continually and updates these risks this creates confidence that the company is able to successfully deal with the issue.
Based on this analysis, a client is able to know all the key issues when he or she decides to go green by adopting sustainable technology in building construction.
Robichaud, Lauren Bradley, and Vittal S. Anantatmula. “Greening project management practices for sustainable construction.” Journal of Management in Engineering 27, no. 1 (2010): 48-57.
Ortiz, O., Castells, F. and Sonnemann, G., 2009. Sustainability in the construction industry: A review of recent developments based on LCA. Construction and Building Materials, 23(1), pp.28-39.
Zhang, X., Platten, A. and Shen, L., 2011. Green property development practice in China: costs and barriers. Building and Environment, 46(11), pp.2153-2160.