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Understanding the Intersection of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Construction

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There are tons of environmental problems that have caused by urbanization, population growth and technological progress. Addressing these issues requires the use of renewable energies, inexhaustible sources of energy with a low environmental impact.

Among the various sectors that consume the most energy in both the US and EU, construction ranks third, behind transport and industry. The construction sector produces environmental pollution through the intensive use of natural resources, from the extraction of raw materials to the demolition phases. It creates a lot of pollution due to the intensive use of construction machinery and the operation of buildings.

The growth of renewable energy in construction has been a boon to the renewable energy industry. A number of investors are benefiting by investing in renewable energy stocks. You should know how to find good energy stocks to trade if you want to take advantage of this trend.

Renewable Energy is Vital to the Future of Sustainable Construction

The shift towards using sustainable architecture by using green construction technology seeks to create healthy, livable and environmentally friendly environments for future generations. By using natural resources intensively, the construction sector threatens the ecological balance and health conditions for humans. Construction activities require the consumption of half of the planet’s energy resources, 42% of which is water. These activities are also responsible for 40% of water pollution, 24% of air pollution and 50% of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions. It seems imperative that contractors or future owners adopt the use of renewable energies to construct buildings/homes, since in the long term, they will be able to reap the benefits of their investment.

There are 5 different types of energy sources: solar, wind, hydro, biomass and geothermal. Here is an overview of each:

  • Solar thermal or photovoltaic energy results from solar radiation. Solar thermal energy captures the heat produced by the sun. Photovoltaic energy transforms photons from the sun into electricity.
  • Wind energy uses the displacement of air masses to produce energy and is the oldest method used by man, including the use of windmills and sailboats.
  • Hydropower is obtained from the power of water. It relies on tidal movements and wave power, such as with hydro turbines in dams.
  • Biomass results from the combustion of organic matter (methanization) which is transformed into biogas and allows the production of biofuels.
  • Geothermal energy uses temperature differentials between the earth surface, water and lower surfaces to create energy.

Among the various renewable energy sources, the use of solar energy tends to prevail in construction. It can be divided into two categories: passive or active solar heating.

In passive solar heating, the term “passive” means that there are no specific installations to harness solar energy. To take advantage of it in a building/home, large south-facing windows (without shading trees) or conservatories if possible, so that the facades and their components can absorb heat during the day and redistribute it inside the house at night when the temperature drops. The passive solar heating system is based on the design and construction materials of the building that act as a collector of solar radiation. The optimization of passive solar heating takes place during the planning of the building construction.

In the case of active solar heating, solar energy transformed into heat results from the absorption of solar radiation by collectors placed near mirrors. The collector consists of water that is heated by solar energy. This water is then transferred to different parts of the building by means of a pump or ventilation, which contributes to the overall heating of the building.

It is important to choose the right passive solar heating system, as it is a good option because it does not require special equipment to operate and therefore does not have any additional cost. However, the active system is more versatile and can be more easily installed in existing buildings, which is more difficult for passive systems as it requires rethinking the design and construction.

Solar energy can also be used by photovoltaic panels with installations that combine a collector, a regulator, storage batteries and an inverter, which generate electrical energy. There are 2 types of photovoltaic installations: those intended for self-consumption and those intended for the electricity grid.

In buildings or homes, wind energy can also be used. In addition to being renewable and non-combustible, is often subsidized by the State. A windmill, a rotor with blades, an electric generator and a mast usually make up a wind installation. In order to optimize the action of the wind as much as possible, the location must be optimal and take into account that there are no elements that impede the passage of the wind. Buildings constructed near the sea, and in isolated or high areas, will have better performance using wind energy.

Have some inspiration about going green in all aspect of life. Views are my own.

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