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Implementation Of Green Building Projects

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Question:

Discuss about the Implementation Of Green Building Projects.
 
 

Answer:

Introduction

The benefits of green building projects cannot be overemphasized. In recent years, these projects have become the top in sustainable development (Darko & Chan, 2016). Many countries are making significant efforts to promote green building projects so that they can realize their potential economic, environmental and social benefits (Hwang, et al., 2017). Research about green building projects has also increased because of public concerns regarding the impacts that construction industry has on global climate change (Tathagat & Dod, 2015), energy use and human health (Khoshbakht, et al., 2017) and wellbeing (Thatcher & Milner, 2014). The main objectives of green building projects are to minimize resource utilization, improve human comfort and health (Singh, et al., 2010), boost utilization of renewable energy and minimize waste generation and environmental disturbances throughout the project’s lifecycle (Gou, et al., 2013). In general, green building approach aims at ensuring that buildings and other structures are designed, constructed, operated and maintained with minimal resource usage (Wedding, 2008) thus reducing unfavorable impacts that these structures would have on the environment (Kubba, 2010). In other words, green building projects aim at increasing efficiency of the building throughout its lifecycle (Owensby-Conte & Yepes, 2012).

Achieving the benefits of green building requires that the project is implemented using green building approach from start to finish (Zigenfus, 2008). All stakeholders involved in green building projects, including client, architect, specialized engineers, contractor and suppliers, must also collaborate so as to achieve expected goals (Ahn, et al., 2016). These projects have to be completed through an integrated process right from conceptual phase all the way to demolition phase. This report analyzes the preliminary design phase; detailed design phase; test, evaluation and validation; and optimization of green building projects. The report also discusses human factors that are critical in green building projects. Analyzing these aspects helps stakeholders in the construction industry to implement green building projects more effectively and realize all their potential benefits.

 

Preliminary design phase

This phase is very important because it marks the start of communicating the design concepts developed in the conceptual design phase by turning them into drawings. In this phase, the project team defines the overall green building configuration and creates schematic layouts and drawings. Available data at this stage is usually limited thus most assessments are done based on assumptions (Braganca, et al., 2014). As stated before, the drawings made at this stage are only schematic and show the basics such as size and shape of the building and its orientation and location on the site. The project team uses this information and other assumed data to select the suitable type of superstructure for the building and estimate bill of materials for the superstructure and building envelope.

It is in this phase that the project team comprehensively discusses various technical and performance requirements of the green building and how its components shall be integrated to create an integrated system. Construction methods to be used are also proposed in this phase. Several site investigation studies are also carried out to collect data that helps in making the right decisions on various elements of the building and construction process. When performing preliminary design, the project team has to consider local building policies and codes, technical and design rules, environmental concerns, community impact, operating and maintenance needs, and feasibility of the project. Concrete project brief and cost estimations are done in this phase.  

 

Detailed design and development phases

Detailed design phase is where comprehensive drawings (comprising of engineering and architectural drawings) of the green building are created. These drawings are also known as final drawings or blueprints and are the ones encompassed in tender documents. The drawings contain all necessary details of the building’s physical components to help contractors build them on site. These details include dimensions of the building components and specifications of their materials, equipment and machinery to be used. For instance, the project team has to decide suitable renewable energies, light-efficient fixtures, water efficient fixtures, energy efficient electrical appliances, natural ventilation systems, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, etc. After preparing detailed drawings, the project team also examines possible risks that may be faced during development phase. Proposed construction methods are also analyzed to select the most suitable method to be used. Accurate estimations costs to be incurred in constructing and operating the building are also prepared. To come up with more accurate estimations, building mockups and prototypes are usually developed so as to visualize how the building will be constructed, look like and perform during operating cycle. Based on information obtained from mockups, prototypes, simulations and analyses, relevant changes can be made to improve the green building’s performance, functionality, efficiency, safety, constructability, sustainability, affordability and maintainability. This being a green building project, a lot of simulations and studies are carried out to find best practices of improving the building’s resource efficiency throughout its lifecycle. The schedule of the project is also prepared by considering construction works to be done and possible constraints. At the end of this phase, the project team should be able to show that the green building project to be constructed is feasible and economically viable. The main outputs of this phase are bid specifications and construction documents.     

Development phase is where actual construction of the green building takes place. This basically means transferring the blueprints into physical structures on the selected site. The process starts with construction of substructure then continues to superstructure. Most of the activities in this phase are done by the contractor who has been awarded the tender but with collaboration, cooperation and close supervision of other key stakeholders such as the client, design team and consultants. Every milestone made during the development phase must be appraised to ensure that the element constructed is as per the specifications outlined in the contract documents. At the end of the development phase, the green building should be ready for occupation and achieve its anticipated economic, environmental and social benefits.   

 

System test, evaluation & validation and optimization

For a building to receive green accreditation, it must pass through a series of tests, evaluations and validations. Testing and evaluation are processes that are performed on individual components of the building to establish whether they meet client needs and other technical, functional and performance specifications stated in contract documents. The specific testing and evaluation processes to be performed are identified during conceptual, preliminary and detailed design phases. In this case, the components may be tested ad evaluated to determine their performance, water and energy efficiency. These processes are carried out based on procedures of different green building standards and/or systems such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED), Green Star, National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) and Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) (Dunya, 2014), among others. Some of the key parameters that are tested and evaluated in green building projects include: building size and location, building design and engineering, building materials, energy efficiency, green building construction methods, water efficiency, renewable energy sources, water conservation, utility policies and return on investment (BPC Green Builders, 2015). The main importance of system test and evaluation is that they help to determine need to change building design or components, or construction methods so as to avoid unnecessary costs and ensure that the structure built meets the needs of the client. Examples of tests that are performed on green buildings include: environmental tests, structural tests, technical tests, constructability tests, performance tests, maintenance tests, building management system tests, etc. It is also very important to test the building or system under worst-case scenarios (Zapata, et al., 2013), such as performance of the building in case of an earthquake or when renewable energy source becomes unreliable.      

Validation process is carried out to establish whether products or practices used in construction of green buildings meet the required specifications, purpose and function (Luna, et al., 2013). Occupancy permit for a green building can only be issued if the building is validated, meaning that it meets all minimum technical, functional and performance requirements. Each component of the building has a unique validation process, which comes after testing and evaluation processes. As a result of this, a component gets validated based on data obtained from test and evaluation process. If a component is invalidated, the project team has to re-evaluate it and find ways of improving it so as to meet the minimum requirements. Necessary validation processes to be performed are also identified during conceptual design phase hence the project team has to plan and prepare the necessary tools and equipment to perform these processes.

Another key goal of system test, evaluation and validation is to identify areas that need to be optimized so as to improve the green building’s overall performance. There are various ways in which a green building project can be optimized. Some of these ways include: change of building layout, orientation, materials or envelope, use of lean construction and building information modelling (BIM) processes, change of heating and cooling systems, etc. The main objective of optimization is to improve indoor air quality and comfort and safety of occupants, and increase the building’s resource efficiency by reducing the amount of energy and water consumed at all stages of the building’s lifecycle. Generally, optimization becomes easier if test, evaluation and validation processes are done comprehensively and effectively.   

 

Human factors

It is also important to consider various human factors when executing a green building project. These factors ensure that the interaction between the green building and occupants is flawless. One of the fundamental human factors in a green building project is comfort. The building must be designed and constructed to ensure that its occupants are comfortable at all times. This is achieved through proper orientation of the building, use of suitable construction materials, proper insulation, installation of efficient heating and cooling systems, installation of lifts and escalators and automation of heating, cooling and air ventilation in the building. Thermal comfort should always be optimum and adjusted automatically so as to meet the specific needs of the occupants. Safety is another crucial human factor. The green building should be designed with efficient, state-of-the-art and reliable safety and security systems such as fire alarm systems. Above all, the structural soundness of the building should be overboard. Another human factor to be considered in a green building project is air quality, which is related to health of occupants. The building should maintain optimum indoor air quality so as to improve the health of occupants. This is achieved through appropriate air ventilation using natural an artificial ventilation systems. Besides indoor air quality, the building should also have near-zero emissions to the environment. Ways of achieving this include use of renewable energy, natural air ventilation, efficient lighting fixtures, energy efficient electrical and electronic systems and appliances, and water efficient fixtures and appliances. The building should also be constructed using non-toxic, recycled and recyclable materials.

The last but not least human factor for consideration in a green building project is operating and maintenance costs. The building should have low maintenance and operating costs. This is achieved by lowering the amount of energy and water consumed by the building during its operating phase. This can also be achieved by ensuring that the building is durable so as to minimize its maintenance needs. Another way is to ensure that the building can be repaired using locally available and recycled materials.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Climate change, depletion of natural resources and increasing global population are some of the key concerns for people today. These concerns have devastating impacts on human life and the environment as a whole. They are also putting future generations at very high risks. Green building, which is one way of achieving sustainable development, is a practice that is positively changing the construction industry. This practice has numerous economic, environmental and social benefits. However, benefits of green construction projects can only be achieved if these projects are designed and constructed with consideration of end users and the environment. As a result of this, preliminary design, detailed design, development and testing, evaluation, validation and optimization phases are very important in successful implementation of green building projects. These phases help in ensuring that buildings are designed, constructed, operated and maintained in a sustainable manner. In other words, they improve the building’s performance and resource efficiency throughout its lifecycle. It is also important to consider human factors when completing each of these phases. The key human factors include: comfort, safety, air quality and operating and maintenance costs.

Efficient implementation of green building projects also requires involvement of all stakeholders from very early stages of the project. The stakeholders should understand the project details, goals and objectives, and also know their roles and objectives. These stakeholders should be allowed to give their opinions and involved in making critical decisions about the project. Innovation is also allowed during all phases of the project as long as it can help to reduce resource usage, minimize environmental impacts and improve building efficiency. Considering the potential benefits of green building, governments, private companies and individuals should make efforts towards establishing ways of promoting adoption of this practice and solving its related challenges.         

 

References

Ahn, Y., Jung, C., Suh, M. & Jeon, M., 2016. Integrated construction prcess for green building. Procedia Engineering, Volume 145, pp. 670-676.

BPC Green Builders, 2015. Factors that make a green home green. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bpcgreenbuilders.com/green-building/factors-that-make-green-homes-green/
[Accessed 18 September 2017].

Braganca, L., Vieira, S. & Andrade, J., 2014. Early stage design decisions: the way to achieve sustainable buildings at lower costs. The Scientific World Journal, Volume 2014, pp. 1-8.

Darko, A. & Chan, A., 2016. Critical analysis of green building research trend in construction journals. Habitat International, Volume 57, pp. 53-63.

Dunya, 2014. Guide to the most important green building certification systems in the world. [Online]
Available at: https://www.australianscience.com.au/environmental-science/guide-important-green-building-certification-systems-world/
[Accessed 18 September 2017].

Gou, Z., Lau, S. & Prasad, D., 2013. Market readiness and policy implications for green buildings: case study from Hong Kong. Journal of Green Building, 8(2), pp. 162-173.

Hwang, B., Zhu, L., Wang, Y. & Cheong, X., 2017. Green building construction projects in Singapore. Project Management Journal, 48(4), pp. 67-79.

Khoshbakht, M., Gou, Z. & Dupre, K., 2017. Cost-benefit predction of green buildings: WOT analysis of research methods and recent applications. Procedia Engineering, Volume 180, pp. 167-178.

Kubba, S., 2010. "Green" and "sustainability" defined. In: Green construction project management and cost oversight. Boston, MA: Architectural Press, pp. 1-27.

Luna, S. L. A., Tao, H., Zapata, F. & Pineda, R., 2013. Integration, verification, validation, test and evaluation (IVVT&E) frameowrk for system of systems (SoS). Procedia Engineering, Volume 20, pp. 295-305.

Owensby-Conte, D. & Yepes, V., 2012. Green buildings: analysis of state of the knowledge. International Journal of Construction Enginerring and Management, 1(3), pp. 27-32.

Singh, A., Syal, M., Grady, S. & Korkmaz, S., 2010. Effects of green buildings on employee health and productivity. American Journal of Public Health, 100(9), pp. 1665-1668.

Tathagat, D. & Dod, R., 2015. Role of green buildings in sustainable construction - need, challenges and scope in the Indian scenario. Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, 12(2), pp. 1-9.

Thatcher, A. & Milner, K., 2014. Changes in productivity, psychological wellbeing and physical wellbeing from working in a "green" building. Work, 49(3), pp. 381-393.

Wedding, G., 2008. Understanding sustainability in real estate: a focus on measuring and communicating success in green building. North Carolina: University of North Carolina.

Zapata, F., Pineda, R. & Ceberio, M., 2013. How to generate worst-case scenarios when testing already deployed systems against unexpected situations. Edmonton, Canada, North American Fuzzy Information Processing Society (NAFIPS).

Zigenfus, R., 2008. Element analysis of the green building process. New York, NY: Rochester Institute of Technology.

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