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Construction in America

Greener Building Practices May be the Key to a Better Future

Photo: Courtesy of Ricardo Gomez Angel

ZNE recognizes buildings that meet certain sustainability standards to reduce energy use, utilize eco-friendly materials, and minimize their impact on the environment so that the amount of energy used by the building equals the renewable energy it generates on-site.

According to a report released last quarter by the New Buildings Institute (NBI), there are currently 332 buildings that have been or are on their way to achieving ZNE verification. That’s a 74 percent increase since the last count, roughly a year before. 53 projects have now been verified by NBI as having achieved ZNE for at least one full year, up from 33 projects in 2014.

The power of technology

While many factors are contributing to the increase in these sustainable buildings, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, data is a major driver ushering in a new era of green performance.

Advances in technology allow urban developers and construction managers to track energy efficiency and consumption to capture performance data that informs better decisions and helps determine the financial and environmental benefits.

Data-driven decisions

In addition to giving users a look at real-time performance so they can uncover opportunities for innovation, data drives green building by creating a holistic picture of sustainability efforts that allows developers to see how their efforts are working and compare them to others in the field. They can also then share that data across teams and with industry colleagues to ensure they’re performing at the highest level.

Builders can capture data that allows them to set benchmarks for improvement, both within their own projects and against others to see results based on specific performance indicators. 

To support the utilization of data to achieve ZNE, several platforms have been implemented to allow developers to track a wide array of performance data. Data initiatives like these will continue to enable this focus on energy performance, as the more projects harness the power of their data, the more they’ll be able to help buildings, communities, and cities around the world improve green performance and better our quality of life.

Paula Andruss, [email protected]

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