New construction standards can be the way to increase the housing supply affordably.
According to Policy Options,
Better sustainability, better productivity
Overall, requiring higher sustainability performance helps push the construction sector onto the higher productivity path that is needed to increase housing supply.
There is no evidence that making homes energy-efficient and climate-ready significantly increases costs. A thorough review found construction costs for the most efficient buildings average only three to four per cent more than building to minimum code requirements.
Early studies exploring the cost of building electrification show all-electric buildings constructed to net-zero energy-ready standards can be delivered for less than the average cost of similar code-minimum buildings. These marginal costs can be expected to fall further as high-performance construction becomes the norm.
The major problem is lagging productivity in the construction sector. If policymakers and the industry can’t fix this problem, attempting to scale up housing will result in higher construction costs, poor building performance for owners and occupants, more risk of cost overruns and project delays, as well as a boom-bust pattern that keeps workers away from careers in the trades.
Ten building techniques for net-zero buildings
Luckily, several construction practices and techniques build net-zero emission buildings while improving productivity. Here are 10 examples:
1. Pre-manufacturing building components in a factory and then transporting them to the construction site eliminates project interruptions and quality problems due to weather, while providing a comfortable and safe place for people to work. This method also ensures building components are airtight and continuously insulated for high energy-efficiency performance.
2. Integrated project management and delivery gets everyone involved in the design of construction projects and makes them take accountability for the entire building’s performance. This method uncovers ways to reduce costs and increase climate performance by working as an integrated team. For example, paying close attention to airtightness can avoid the need for more expensive and larger heating systems.
3. Designing buildings with simpler shapes makes them more energy-efficient and less prone to defects, while lowering the cost of both energy and materials.