Critics Say “Smart” Buildings Are Not as Eco-Friendly as They Appear

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Robison Wells
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The commercial real estate industry focuses on energy efficiency and sustainability. For example, a recent report shows that the smart building automation software and systems industry reached $20.5 billion in North America. Still, the focus is on the operational phase of the building’s life cycle, not the construction phase.

Critics cite that construction emits the most carbon, building operations contribute only 28%, and the rest occurs during manufacturing and assembly.

A report from Fast Company claims that efforts to reduce carbon during construction might not be the most efficient method of dealing with the problem. Instead, commercial real estate investors, lenders, and architects should “think judiciously about new construction … and adopt a mindset that looks first to the adaptive reuse of what has already been constructed.”

With an office occupancy rate in cities of 11.5% at the end of 2019 and the effects of Covid-19 likely to increase that percentage, “priority should be given to repurposing this vacancy and new construction should be used only when no viable retrofit is possible,” the article suggests.

Still, this hasn’t stopped tech companies from moving construction toward carbon neutrality. For example, Nexii Building Solutions, a green construction company that produces building panels offsite and assembles them onsite, claims enormous strides in construction waste elimination.

Time will indicate the effectiveness of these green companies’ efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

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