The construction industry is one of the most prominent consumers of minerals and natural resources by its very nature. The need and significance of sustainability in construction have become a debated topic due to the growing concerns over global warming and the finite nature of resources. This conventional truth caused increased pressure on construction firms to reduce their environmental impact.
But what exactly is sustainable construction, and how does one transition into a more renewable development method? Are there any benefits, and what are the appropriate methods? Learn more by reading the guide below.
What is Sustainable Construction?
Sustainable construction involves using renewable and recyclable materials on building projects to reduce energy consumption and toxic waste. The primary goal of this initiative is to decrease the industry’s impact on the environment by utilizing sustainable construction procedures, practicing energy efficiency, and harnessing green technology.
While several companies from different business sectors are doing ways to be more environmentally responsible, many focus their attention on the construction industry since it is considered the largest user of global resources. This sector alone is responsible for approximately 50% of the worldwide consumption of raw materials and is a significant waste producer. It makes construction unique because by changing outdated practices, the industry can significantly reduce the effects of global warming.
Sustainable Construction Methods
Many construction firms are now recognizing the importance of sustainable and green building methods. With the increased interest in sustainability and energy conservation, new advances in technology, materials, and practices have been developed over the past decade to enable and promote overall efficiency.
One of the best ways to implement sustainability in construction is through materials. Technological advancements have paved the way for a new generation of more robust, lighter, and renewable building materials such as insulated access doors and panels, which can help push traditional practices to be more environment-friendly.
These ecological materials also help promote a cleaner Earth by reducing the carbon footprint of the buildings that utilize these elements. They have the same purpose as their non-renewable counterparts while also aesthetically pleasing and much more efficient.
Ergonomic construction isn’t just about using renewable materials; it’s also about implementing methods that enhance sustainable efforts. Some of these methods include:
- Limiting the materials used to reduce waste
- Controlling waste management, such as separating and recycling waste
- Constructing green buildings
- Adaptive reuse projects that transform old buildings
- Managing construction sites to improve conservation efforts
- Examples include treating water on-site, no smoking, recycling food containers, etc.
- Conserving energy
- Choosing sustainable and recycled materials
Benefits of Sustainable Construction
Construction sustainability isn’t just beneficial for the environment, but it also supports the well-being of individuals and communities. There are many proven benefits of adopting the green initiative in the building industry, and these include:
1. Promotes Healthier Living
It’s no secret that our surroundings significantly impact our physical, mental, and emotional health. Over the past decade, designers and builders have developed a sustainable architecture that substantially affects the inhabitants’ overall state in green buildings. The modern age has allowed us to branch out and modernize everyday appliances such as lighting and power sources, thermal conditions, ergonomic features, and even air quality. Occupants residing or working in sustainable buildings have experienced a noticeable improvement in their health, stress levels, and overall quality of life.
2. Reduces Waste
Over the past decades, global warming has remained a steadfast concern due to its increasing evident effects on our planet. Pollution and the depletion of our natural resources are at an all-time high. While we are almost at the point of no return, we can still minimize or slow down the imminent effects of climate change with our sustainable technological advancements. Construction firms have started relying on renewable resources and methods, which are beneficial for us and promote a cleaner environment.
3. Boosts the Economy
The construction industry is a known economic driver in the United States. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) stated that the green building industry contributes more than $134.3 billion in labor income to working Americans. It is safe to say that the green initiative in construction helps boost the economy by creating more jobs due to an increased demand for construction workers.
4. Promotes Cost Efficiency
One of the most substantial benefits of sustainable buildings is their lower maintenance costs with specially engineered design elements that help reduce water and energy bills. Reduced maintenance and operational costs mean huge savings invested elsewhere, such as higher employee wages or product development.
Although the cost required in building such structures may be initially higher than the traditional non-renewable forms of architecture, these efficient layouts can save corporate and building owners down the line.
5. Decreases Material Cost
Sustainable building methods utilize eco-friendly materials without compromising quality or structural integrity. Many of these materials are recycled and reused. Among which are biocomposites that are commonly substituted as sustainable building materials have proven to be as reliable and durable as their non-renewable counterpart.
For green architects, energy efficiency remains their number one priority and goal in building design. Building structures that obtain their energy from natural resources - such as the wind, sun, and water - are exceptionally favorable to our environment.
6. Enables Carbon Footprint Reduction
There has been an increase in large corporations supporting and adopting green initiatives. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that buildings are responsible for 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Property owners and large businesses have taken heed, as imposing sustainability is an opportunity to do something positive for the company and society.
Importance of Sustainable Construction
The demand for a more sustainable and economical solution has significantly grown due to the evident effects of global warming. The construction industry has already caused unfathomable damage to the environment. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “the increased construction activities and urbanization will increase waste which will eventually destroy natural resources and wildlife habitats over 70% of land surface from now up to 2032.”
It is deeply unsettling for us and our future generations, and therefore, the need for sustainability in the construction sector is growing. Over the years, the building industry has primarily contributed to the continuous eradication of our ecosystem, whereas it accounts for:
- 45% of total CO2 emissions in the UK (27% from domestic buildings and 18% from non-domestic).
- 72% of household emissions are due to space heating and the provision of hot water.
- 32% of landfill waste from construction and demolition of buildings.
- 13% of construction waste is sent directly to the landfill without being used.
Resolving this situation has become a priority for construction firms and critical decision-makers to minimize the consumption of raw materials and natural resources and reduce their carbon footprints.
To meet these objectives, numerous firms have started practicing necessary steps towards designing, renovating, or building structures in compliance with environmental rules and sustainable methods.
Although the cost of renewable construction is higher in all stages of the project, mainstream contractors and renowned firms are undertaking sustainable development in construction. The adaption of sustainable methods and materials has dramatically increased over the past few years, that the cost of sustainability in construction has come down.
Large construction firms and companies aren’t the only ones to improve their methods and practices to better the environment. Regular people working on their building projects can do their part by choosing renewable materials and practicing sustainable techniques. Whether using the proper equipment or implementing reliable engineering geared towards conservation, simply doing your best to be energy efficient can help progress sustainability efforts.