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6 Green Building Trends To Watch This Year


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The green building trend isn’t exactly breaking news in the construction industry. What is novel, though, is how green building practices continue to evolve. As they do, they also continue to improve the construction industry.

So, what trends are taking center stage this year? Below are six of the most prominent. Some of them are new, and some of them are continuations of current trends, but they are all having a substantial impact on construction and the structures people live and work in.

1. Green Gets Tough

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. experienced 16 different billion-dollar disaster events during 2017. Last year is tied with 2011 for the most billion-dollar events on record. Because of this, the construction industry is focusing on resiliency in 2018.

In November 2017, the U.S. Green Building Council adopted the RELi standard, which focuses on resilient design, emergency preparedness, risk adaptation and mitigation. Building owners are seeking out these certifications, and cities are start ramping up their resiliency requirements.

2. Focus on Wellness

Last year also saw the beginnings of a focus on wellness in building design. In 2018, this trend — which covers issues such as indoor air quality and material use — will come to the forefront. 

Wellness standards such as the WELL Building Standard recently began taking off and are continuing to do so in 2018. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is also moving toward including more wellness standards.

This year, healthy building certifiers will have to make the business case for complying with a wellness standard. We’ll see more studies come out about the benefits of healthy buildings, such as the recent COGfx study that linked increased ventilation to improved cognitive function.

3. Smarter Buildings

In 2017, innumerable smart devices entered the market, from Internet-connected lighting to HVAC systems to refrigerators. In 2018, we’ll see these smart capabilities integrated into buildings. The approach to Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will also progress from frenzied to more strategic. 

Combining passive design with smart technologies will prove to be the best tactic in many cases. The costs associated with IoT tech are also continuing to drop, making it more accessible to smaller businesses and individuals.

4. Renewables Continue to Grow   

Solar has been on the rise for the last few years. The industry had a few scares this past year due to changing priorities in Washington. Although Trump did approve tariffs on solar panels, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a subsidy of coal and nuclear plants, and the federal tax bill preserved many of the tax credits and programs for renewables.

Signs point to renewable energy, especially wind and solar, continuing to play a major role in green building this year.


Furthermore, cities and states have continued moving toward their renewable energy goals and even ratcheted them up in some cases. Big companies like Apple, Google and Amazon have continued investing heavily in renewables as well.

Signs point to renewable energy, especially wind and solar, continuing to play a major role in green building this year.

5. Modular Design on the Rise

This year we’ll likely continue to see more modular design and offsite construction due to its ability to reduce costs, reduce construction site waste and promote energy efficiency. We will also see more buildings built via a combination of offsite and onsite construction. Design innovations will support the growth of this trend.

6. More Certification Options

In 2018, there are more certification options than ever before for sustainability, resilience, wellness and other attributes. These standards have the potential to help improve the buildings we use every day, but the growing number of choices also presents challenges to buildings and building owners. 

These stakeholders must learn to navigate the many options available to them and the updates to those certifications. It’s important they choose standards that align with their goals. If they choose multiple certifications, they need to ensure the certifications work well together.

The green building movement isn’t slowing down in 2018. It is changing, though, and it’s essential builders keep up with the year’s most influential trends. 

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