The following article has been modified from Elliot Christensen's "Trends in Construction 2019" article printed in the Minnesota Shopping Center Association's State of Retail Report in their Fall 2019 issue. This is the third article in a series.
Article one: Labor Shortages Continue Throughout 2019: Construction Trends Part 1
Article Two: Construction Costs & Economy Report: Construction Trends Part 2
More and more construction projects are incorporating green/sustainable technology. Projects designed to be more environmentally responsible, sustainable, and resource-efficient are becoming more commonplace. This includes every step of the project: planning, design, construction, maintenance, and demolition.
While the trend toward LEED certification started several years ago, owners don’t seem to be concerned about obtaining the actual certification, but are interested in incorporating the concepts into their projects. Energy efficient systems like super insulation, photovoltaic energy systems, and geothermal heating and cooling are incorporated into buildings not just because they are better for the environment, but also for the longevity of the building and for their customers’ perception of the business.
One example of this is happening at grocery stores such as ALDI, Trader Joe’s, and Lunds & Byerlys, where they are converting their refrigeration systems from traditional freon to CO2 systems.
Refrigeration is one of the supermarket systems ranking highest in terms of energy use, and suppliers and retailers are working constantly to lessen its impact on the environment. CO2 is a zero-ODP [ozone-depleting potential] and low-GWP [global-warming potential] refrigerant that is less hazardous than traditional, non-natural refrigerants, and it has become more efficient with technological advances over the past ten years. Although they cost more at installation, these systems can also consume less energy as they require fewer compressors that can be modulated to run at the speed required to maintain a certain temperature, rather than at full speed.
As we approach the end of 2019 and have the 2020s in sight, everyone is being creative about sustainable, energy-efficient construction with an eye to the future and life cycle costs for the building.
Here are a few more examples of sustainable features on our recent projects:
Solar panels & solar tubes for Four Winds Alternative and Career Technology Education High School [Project Details]
Also Four Winds: The building’s heating and cooling uses a ground-source geothermal system with high efficiency water-to-air heat pumps, variable speed fans and pumps, and an energy recovery system. [Project Details]
Solar panel installation on the roof of Richfield Bloomington Credit Union [More Project Photos]