Why should we be turning to environmentally friendly construction?
As a planet, it is estimated that in the next 20 years we will reach our capacity when it comes to our global consumption of oil. 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.
Throughout the Western world, the construction sector is reliant upon cheap crude oils that they can use within processes that help to build in the machines that they use. Surprisingly, within the UK, 50 percent of all carbon emissions produced by machinery and production are accounted for by the construction industry.
Attitudes are, however, gradually starting to change, and awareness regarding how pollution is starting to impact our planet in the long-term is being realised.
By passing legislation, the UK government is now instructing construction firms to use green processes when constructing a new house or building. Post-construction, firms are also encouraged to incorporate green technologies within the build to benefit the environment once construction is complete.
The UK could be taking advantage of this lucrative new opportunity within construction, as in the US last year alone, estimated revenues for eco-friendly construction amounted to $245 billion. Reconomy, providers of waste management solutions for recyclable materials and skips for hire, takes us through how to provide eco-efficient practices on any construction site.
Techniques in eco-friendly construction
If the design and construction of a structure is to be ecologically beneficial to the environment, three things need to be considered before construction begins:
- 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 utilised as a form of insulation during and after the construction of roofing. Insulation 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.
Ecological structures and their design
Energy-efficient practices and eco-friendly technologies can be incorporated into a proposed structure in many ways, and here are some 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 percent, low energy lighting lasts twice as long as a regular lightbulb.
Benefitting from eco-friendly construction
Operating and maintaining a building can account for 80 percent of a building’s overall running costs throughout the duration of its lifetime. Green initiatives reduce the total running costs of a building by one third, which amounts to around 53.3 percent of a building’s running costs.
Daylight should always be factored into a building’s design, as this helps to save on artificial lighting 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.
Long lasting and recyclable materials should also be used once construction of a building begins. 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.
By using these techniques and materials within the construction of a proposed structure, this ultimately slows down the pace of climate change. 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.