From: Amber Arneson, Guest Author, Clean Techies, More from this Affiliate
Published July 16, 2013 01:46 PM

Green Buildings Will Sustain the Future Health of Billions

By 2050, the world's population is expected to hit nine billion. And, by that year, scientists have projected that 80 percent of the world's population will live in urban environments. In the United States alone, research indicates that people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, as noted in a TriplePundit article.

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Unfortunately, buildings can have concentrations of some pollutants that are two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These pollutants can come in the form of aging infrastructure, portable air conditioners, poor ventilation or other forms.

Because of this, more buildings will be needed to meet the increasing demand for high indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for growing populations, especially in developing nations and urban areas like Bangkok, Jakarta and Istanbul.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) defines IEQ as the quality of a building's environment in relation to the health and well being of those who occupy it. Buildings with a high IEQ are also generally energy efficient, which can dramatically reduce the total operating cost of residential and commercial buildings.

Taking all of this data into consideration, what will influence future buildings around the world? How will builders plan for more environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient buildings to enhance work and residential spaces for future indoor populations in urban areas around the world?

Here are some key trends that will have an impact on the buildings billions of people will occupy:

A growing opportunity for renovation

A move towards more energy efficient buildings can start with existing buildings. According to the EPA, existing buildings account for nearly one-third of the electricity consumed, and generate up to 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The good news is that the Whole Building Design Guide, a program of the National Institute of Building Sciences, states that "IEQ improvements to an existing building can occur at any point during the use of a building."

Not only is renovating and reusing the existing inventory of buildings around the world an environmentally-friendly decision, it's also an economic opportunity. Typically, building renovations require more labor and use less material, which is a benefit for the environment and local economies.

An article from Middle East Climate Control also points out that in the "Foreseeable future, the greatest energy, operating and service performance-improvement opportunities can be found in the world's inventory of existing buildings."

Read more key trends at  ENN affiliate, Clean Techies.

Green building image via Shutterstock.

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