By: Adam Ioannidis

The commercial construction industry is at a revolutionary crossroad; the design and goal of a typical shopping centre or office building have changed with a stronger emphasis being put on ecological proficiency. This green awareness is pushing the construction industry (amongst others) to seek alternative building methods — reducing their carbon footprint and making the experience more pleasant for the occupants.

As a fully-fledged and licensed building estimating service — Accent Estimating has had experience estimating for and dealing with a multitude of sustainable commercial construction projects and today we are going to detail some popular practices as well as some impressive achievements from around the world.

Sustainable materials

Concrete and steel are the foundation (literally and figuratively) of most commercial buildings; these two materials are already quite sustainable and specialised varieties of each — such as high-performance concrete or high-grade stainless steel — are ideal for high-rise applications. There are also some concrete alternatives being developed as sand, a key ingredient in concrete, is a finite resource that is being depleted globally.

Researchers based at the Deakin School of Engineering have actually successfully replaced sand with waste glass in polymer concrete. This is a significant achievement as polymer concrete actually features a number of properties that are superior to those of traditional Portland cement concrete such as rapid curing, resistance to corrosive agents and chemicals as well as higher compressive and impact strength; it’s worth noting that polymer concrete can be used for commercial construction projects.

Planning and layout

Beyond the materials, the actual layout of the building can play a big part in its sustainability thanks to passive design principles. Factors like insulation, effective building envelopes and double glazed windows can all contribute to a structure that leverages the climate to heat or cool its internal environment rather than constantly relying on active methods such as air conditioning. Obviously, this becomes more difficult for large centres with tall roofs. It is at this stage that thinking outside the box comes in handy.

Innovating through sustainability

There are countless initiative and examples of sustainable commercial complexes all over the world, each with their own perks that our building estimating service experts admire; Powerhouse Kjørbo is one of those complexes that has been dubbed “the world’s most environmentally friendly office building”.

It is actually an 80s office building that was renovated to use over 80% less energy than it used to — this is to the point where it is actually designed to produce more energy through its solar panels than it can consume during its lifespan. The solar panels fitted to the building are capable of outputting a whopping 41kWh/m2 per year.

Looking much closer to home, Melbourne City is home to the first building in Australia to be awarded a green star design rating of six stars. Nestled in Collins St, the Council House 2 building has two distinct modes — summer and winter, which operate in addition to the night and day modes. Why does a building have different modes? It is all part of the revolutionary blend of technology and design.

For example, during the evenings, the windows are opened automatically to allow the fresh night air to cool the floors and expel any thermal build-up within the concrete. This cold air is then expelled via the turbine in the roof. During winter, there are water collection procedures in place which catch the rainfall from the roof and transport it below to storage tanks where it can be reused for pipe heating/cooling as well as plant watering and other non-drinking uses.

Are you looking for building estimating services?

The future of commercial construction is looking bright, with so many impressive innovations and potential methods on the horizon it just takes the right combination of ambition and dedication to get the ball rolling.

Before tackling such a project, it is best to get your numbers in order first and ensure the feasibility and finances are all in check — this is where Accent Estimating can help as a premium building estimating service. We employ skilled and experienced estimators capable of providing quality services all over Australia such as commercial cost estimationsprogress claims and section 94 reports.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you with your next construction project, then please give us a call on 0413 953 869 or fill out our online contact form.