When it comes to where – and how – we live, a growing number of us are going green. Sustainability is the by word – in building materials, in the resources our homes use like energy and water and in the appliances and systems that use them.
It’s actually becoming a lifestyle choice, and it’s one that smart businesses are responding to.
A 2014 study by the Canada Green Building Council found numerous triggers for the green movement in the construction market. Interestingly enough, however, client demand, while one of the top three, ranked behind a more heartening “it’s the right thing to do” as the top rationale.
Both reasons, though, led half of the study’s respondents to project that over 60 percent of their projects would be green by this year. It was an anticipated level of growth much higher than their U.S. counterparts had expected in an earlier study. Canada may now, as a result, be on par with the U.S. when it comes to share of green building.
Client demand and helping property owners save money on energy costs are two reasons that have pushed the adoption of green technologies in the developments by Sam Mizrahi, an active developer in Toronto who leads Mizrahi Developments. Mizrahi Developments also happens to be dedicated to using EnergyStar ranked products and practices and is GreenHouse certified.
But, innovations in green building technology and trends in environmentally friendly practices have made it increasingly easy and practical to cater to the sustainability imperative.
Solar energy, for example, has long been considered an important resource to boost the energy efficiency of residential and commercial construction. But, here’s the problem. Solar technology is expensive to install. It can require roof repair (when retrofitting). And some also consider solar panels to be less than aesthetically pleasing.
As Elon Musk puts it, a solar roof is “weird. Every one of them is worse than a normal roof, without exception.” This is the year that Tesla, the company Musk leads, starts selling its solar roof, and it’s a lot different than the typical solar panels consumers are used to. Tesla’s process imbeds solar cells in glass shingle “tiles” that look like standard roof tiles (only better) and use techniques from the automotive glass industry. The result? An aesthetic solar product that’s also efficient and competitive with or cheaper than an ordinary roof.
Another green building innovation is an improvement on programmable thermostats. According to Anubrav Rnajan, director of product management for Lennox International, they don’t save money because they’re too hard to program so must people don’t. Lennox made things simple with its new iComfort thermostat using geofencing monitoring technology that automatically adjusts the temperature based on whether or not you’re in the “fence.”
Green homes also tend to be smart homes, and these are features that are steadily working their way into new home developments, as well as those being redeveloped. Windows, for example, are becoming intuitive – smart and controllable and able to turn from opaque to clear on demand. All the better if they are trimmed with heat-sensor treatments that open or close according to the homeowner’s preference.
And speaking of smart, appliances, too, are increasingly connected, with features that speak to convenience as much as energy efficiency. Sharp, for example, has a series of products, like its oven that’s equipped with a temperature probe for off-site monitoring of what’s cooking. And some are putting a different twist on sustainability. Grundig has reflected the push toward improved shelf life, freshness and hygiene of food in refrigerators that control temperature, humidity, and lighting to make foods last longer and reduce waste.
We are increasingly aware of the need to protect the environment around us. Sustainability has become an imperative that influences our lifestyle preferences and decisions. The good news is that it’s turning into a way of life that is ever easier to embrace.