Whether residential, industrial or transport, there’s no getting around the fact that construction generates waste. A variety of resources are used, including energy, building materials, and water. Pollution is also created during construction. According to a Bimhow report, construction accounts for 50% of climate change, 40% of drinking water pollution, 23% of air pollution and 50% of landfill waste.
Then comes the energy use of the buildings themselves once they’re constructed. According to the EPA, in the US alone, buildings account for a whopping 39% of total energy use, 60% of total electricity use, and 38% of total CO2 emissions, along with 12% of total water use.
With these numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that eco-conscious construction companies and building owners are looking for alternative construction methods that have a smaller impact on the planet.
This is where sustainable building design and construction comes in.
What Is Sustainable Construction?
Sustainable design and construction consists of “green buildings” that have a minimal impact on the environment. A green building includes both the structure itself as well as the processes and materials used in its construction. Sustainable construction is better for the environment and the community. It’s more socially responsible, and it’s also often the most economical choice, too.
This new construction trend is having a big impact on the industry and is changing the way forward-thinking companies build structures (and gain a competitive edge at the same time).
Here are innovative solutions for sustainability in building design and construction.
1. Green Building Materials
Selecting building materials that are manufactured from recycled products and local sources can help you create greener buildings. For example, precast concrete, bamboo, cork, reclaimed wood, and reclaimed metal are all excellent green material choices that will help you achieve LEED certification.
Precast concrete, in particular, is often a preferred choice due to its durability and long lifespan, which make it a highly sustainable material. Precast is also made from natural aggregates and is 100% recyclable.
2. Prefabricated Construction
Prefabricated construction, like precast concrete discussed above, is another way to make your next building project more sustainable. Prefab construction enables you to reduce material waste on site because the materials are exactly cut to your needs in a factory setting.
Cutting sheet metal indoors, for example, eliminates shape-changing problems caused by the heat and cold, and curing concrete indoors also eliminates the risk that poor weather will affect its quality. The strict quality control of prefab manufacturing also adds to its long lifespan and sustainability.
Since heavy machinery doesn’t need to be used on site to manufacture prefab materials, this trend also reduces pollution and cuts the project’s carbon footprint.
3. Construction Waste Management
Fortunately, construction sites today can significantly cut their landfill waste thanks to more sophisticated haulers that use packers to separate materials. This leads to more recycling and up to 75% landfill avoidance.
4. Design Solutions to Increase Energy Efficiency
When it comes to the building design, there are many solutions for architects to consider that can contribute to a building’s energy efficiency, and, thus, its sustainability.
For example, double-glazed windows, window shading, roof vents that allow hot air to escape, and light-coloured roofs can all help deflect heat and reduce heating requirements.
Planning for a greenhouse-efficient hot water system, such as a solar hot water system or gas hot water system, can reduce gas emissions by 80%
Working with a building’s natural elements can also make it greener. This could include retaining the existing vegetation, landscaping in a way that requires minimal water, or creating an environment that allows wildlife and plants to flourish.
Want to learn more? Read our predictions for the future of sustainable construction next.