Green or Net Zero energy efficient building construction refers to a structure’s ability to offset, reduce or produce as much energy as it consumes. Traditionally, construction methods have not been sensitive to these requirements. However, as energy resources become scarce and more expensive, it is imperative that new methods of construction be developed.
Students in Florida Tech’s construction management program have a tremendous opportunity to gain valuable expertise in energy efficient building methods. Through classroom instruction and the development of student projects, they discover and develop new methods to improve the efficiency of new construction. This knowledge gives students a tremendous advantage when seeking employment after graduation.
The ideal condition would be where structures are constructed to “net-zero” standards meaning that they either produce or offset an amount of energy equal to that which is consumed in their construction and operation. In other words, structures must be air tight, highly insulated and furnished with efficient systems such as appliances, as air conditioning and heating units, lighting, and similar fixtures that consume an absolute minimal amount of resources. In addition, features such as solar panels and energy recovery systems must be included in energy efficient building construction.
Until now, construction practices in the USA have not generally utilized these energy efficient building strategies. Windows are typically builder’s grade, roofs are not well insulated, air conditioning installations are not very efficient and walls are not well sealed. According to zerohomes.org, building a more efficient house costs as little 5-10% more than a conventional home, but the reduction in cost of ownership, over the life of the structure, can be dramatic. As energy costs increase and global environmental awareness expands, developers and homeowners are choosing green construction methods to conserve resources and reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
Developing green building technologies include such features as adaptive, self-learning thermostats, LED lighting, super insulated walls, photovoltaic solar panels, air and moisture reducing sealers, super insulation, tank less water heaters and more. ICF forms, for example, are made of recycled Styrofoam. They replace wood forms and stay in place to provide super insulation to the resulting concrete walls. In conventional construction, wood concrete forms are built in place and later thrown away when the concrete cures. By using energy efficient building products, like ICF forms, students learn to conserve energy and labor resources while saving the homeowner 30%-50% on their energy bill.
Some of the subject areas covered by students in the Florida Tech program include:
Studying energy efficient building construction strategies is a valuable complement to the Florida Tech CM curriculum that is included in all mandatory subjects as: Construction Methods, Cost Estimating, Environmental Geology, Statics and Mechanics for Construction, Construction Equipment and Safety, Managing a Small Business and more.
With specialized expertise in subjects like green building technologies and LEED construction, that are now in great demand, coupled with engineering and business management skills, Florida Tech students are well prepared to enter the workforce as strong leaders with an understanding of the most current energy efficient building methods.