Environmentally Friendly Construction
- Building Design Expert
- 2 years ago
What is eco-friendly construction?
Year on year, our consumption of oil draws us closer to our peak-capacity, which will become a reality in the next 20 years or so. However, demand continually appears to rise as the global production of oil decreases. In light of this, the construction industry still requires most of its energy sources from oil-based fuels.
So that the construction industry can power equipment and other vehicles, the western world depends upon crude oils. Surprisingly, within the UK, 50% of all carbon emissions produced by machinery and production are accounted for by the construction industry.
Attitudes are, however, slowly beginning to change when fossil fuels are considered – even though this is a slow and gradual process.
During construction, and after, firms should always consider how their practices are eco-friendly. Post-construction, firms are also encouraged to incorporate green technologies within the build to benefit the environment once construction is complete.
In the US last year, revenues from eco-friendly construction reached $245 billion; the UK could also be taking advantage of this booming market. With the help of Reconomy, providers of waste management solutions for recyclable materials and skips for hire, we explore how the construction industry is becoming more environmentally friendly.
How do eco-friendly practices work?
Before construction, three benchmarks should be considered. These are:
- Establish whether materials have been locally sourced or if they’re renewed; if they aren’t, can they be recycled in the future?
- During construction, is any energy being wasted? Machines can often be overused during the production process, which leads to expendable energy that is wasted and can never be used again. Electric vehicles and machines with hybrid-engines should be used so that when a motor is being overworked – an electric engine can be engaged to cope with the load.
- Finally, once building the structure is complete, is there any energy generated within it that is wasted?
Recycled paper can be used instead of purpose-built roof insulation, as these materials are often expensive. By using a cheaper and practical alternative, the cost of producing insulation for one roof will be minimised drastically by using already existing materials. Furthermore, timbers sourced from sustainably managed forests in the local area can also be used. As well as reclaimed wood, this is an alternative to chopping down trees that are used within construction.
How to implement these processes
Eco-friendly techniques and practices can be utilised and implemented in many different ways. Here are some of the best examples:
- Solar energy panels. To generate electricity within a building, or domestically to power boilers and other electrical equipment, solar energy is fast become a cheaper alternative to other forms of domestic power.
- Drainage systems and water filtration. With these systems in place, water can be re-used when biological waste is treated safely, which can then be recycled. Rainwater can also be collected in specific drains and storage taps, as opposed to always relying on water from a tap.
- Low-energy lighting. Accounting for an energy saving of 100%, low energy lighting lasts twice as long as a regular lightbulb.
Operating and maintenance costs usually account for 80% of a building’s overall costs. Green initiatives reduce the total running costs of a building by one third, which amounts to around 53.3% of a building’s running costs.
Daylight should always be incorporated into a building’s design in order to save on electricity costs. The ‘indoor environment quality’ of a building can also be improved when daylight can shine through a building, which benefits the health of all of the occupants that are present in the building.
Recyclable materials should always be incorporated into a building’s design once construction has started. As a result, fewer new materials will be used within the structure, helping to reduce costs whilst less energy is consumed (from crude oils) in order to produce the structure.
Using environmentally-friendly construction techniques alone won’t solve the problem of climate change, but it will slow-down the rate of climate change, whilst using materials and practices that aim to benefit the natural world around us. The end goal for the construction industry then, should be to produce homes and buildings that are greener, economically efficient and conceptualised with the environment in mind.