Research highlights growing trends of green roofs and green concrete

Business Research Company’s smart buildings report reveals the rise in green features and construction methods that help to reduce energy and create more sustainable commercial buildings.

Living roofs or green roofs are increasingly being implemented in commercial smart buildings, a market which is forecast to grow from $36.42bn in 2020 to $59.30bn in 2025, according to new research.

Green solutions in roofs, windows and even concrete are identified as major trends in the Business Research Company’s smart buildings market research report.

Smart buildings market size

The global smart buildings market size reached a value of nearly $36.42bn in 2020, having increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.5 per cent since 2015. From 2025, the market is then expected to grow at a CAGR of 8 per cent from 2025 to reach $87.25bn in 2030.

A green roof is a roof of a building that is covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. They have a number of reported benefits: green roofs last longer when compared to conventional roofs; help to reduce energy costs with natural insulation; lower the temperature (heat and cold) by absorbing and trapping them; and reduce storm water run-off, filter pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air and help to increase wildlife habitat in built-up areas.

In some US cities, including San Francisco, it is mandatory to incorporate 15-30 per cent of the roof space to incorporate solar, green roofs, or a blend of both.

The report also highlights the use of low-emittance windows, which are coated with metallic oxide to block the sun’s harsh rays during summer and keep the heat inside in the winter. More than serving the conventional function of windows, low-emittance windows significantly bring down the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) costs.

A more advanced version of this, which is yet to be available commercially, is known as electro-chromic glass. Using a small amount of electricity, the smart glass charges ions to control the amount of light it reflects. In effect, this glass tints during the sun’s peak hours and returns to transparent at night. The other green architecture glasses include insulated (doubled and triple glazed glass), gas filled glazing, heat- absorbing tinted glass, low emissivity coatings, and spectrally selective glass.

In 2019, Gauzy, an Israeli-based material science company, launched its second production facility in Germany to produce smart window technology for automotive and architectural applications. The production facility was set up to manufacture an SPD-smart light control film to allow users to instantly, precisely and uniformly control the shading of glass or plastic products, either manually or automatically.

Another trend in the smart buildings industry is the use of green concrete, an environmentally friendly concrete. It improves the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic, and social impacts.

A concrete is certified ‘green’ when it follows reduce, reuse and recycle techniques or any two processes in the concrete technology. The three major objectives behind the green concept in concrete are: to reduce greenhouse gas emission; to reduce the use of natural resources such as limestone, shale, clay, natural river sand, natural rocks; and the use of waste materials in concrete that results in the air, land and water pollution.

Smart buildings’ builders are adopting green concrete as it is cost-effective, long-lasting, eco-friendly and offers sustainable habitat. For example, green concrete can reduce electricity bills as it provides thermal comfort in the premises. A layer of customised concrete is applied over the top layer of the roof slab which helps building cool in summer and warm in winters.

Due to this mechanism, energy consumption is reduced and makes a smart building an energy efficient building. For instance, in 2020, LafargeHolcim, a Swiss-based manufacturer of building materials launched the green concrete ECOPact in the US. Thus, the industry is implementing several eco-friendly trends in order to face climate change and other challenges in today’s world, the Business Research Company reports.