Five Sustainable Construction Trends Changing the Way We Build
We need homes and buildings for our comfort and safety but not if they contribute to harming the environment. Fortunately, the construction industry is aware of its obligations to become more sustainable and is embracing new technologies and building methods that can help.
Each contributes to lowering the environmental cost of both building and running those buildings. Both go hand in hand to delivering a genuinely sustainable future.
Five trends in construction that are helping make it more sustainable include:
- Solar power generation
- Improved insulation
- Zero energy design
- Water efficient technology
- More sustainable building materials
Solar power generation
Increases in efficiency and reductions in cost have contributed to solar panels becoming increasingly common in new buildings. This form of active power generation helps reduce the building’s reliance on fossil fuels and can even exceed the demands of the building and feed into the grid.
With high efficiency solar panels and roofs designed to maximise generational potential, this is a very welcome change to modern building techniques.
While solar panels can be retrofitted to older buildings, it is logical to have them installed on new buildings and to have roofs constructed to maximise space for those panels.
Improvements in insulation in new buildings also helps reduce its environmental footprint. Not only is a well-insulated building cheaper to run and use less fossil fuel to heat, it also allows less heat to escape and warm the atmosphere.
Green insulation takes this a step further by using recycled or sustainable materials in the manufacture of the insulation, further reducing the impact of the construction.
This double benefit works both for the construction industry and the future building owner. Wins like these are why we can expect to see much more green insulation in future projects.
Zero energy design
Zero energy, or passive houses use clever design and modern technology to enable a home to be heated and cooled without using mechanical devices. HVAC can be incorporated into a zero energy design but isn’t always necessary.
This design philosophy was once the reserve of premium homes but is slowly becoming more mainstream. New technologies make it far more accessible while increased experience from architects are finding new ways to make it more affordable and deployable at scale.
Water efficient technology
Water is essential for all life yet we frequently face water shortages. The increased use of water efficient technologies in new construction hopes to help reduce that.
Technologies such as water collection, onsite greywater recycling, efficient showers and bathrooms and smart devices all contribute to making a building more water efficient. When installed at scale, even slight reductions in water use and modest improvements in water recycling can have a huge impact on water use.
More sustainable building materials
Sustainable building materials can range from biodegradable insulation, non-toxic paint, concrete alternatives, modular construction, increased use of sustainable timber, rammed earth, timbercrete, ferrock, bamboo and other materials. Each can significantly lower the environmental cost of a building.
There is also a train of thought that sustainable materials make a building healthier to be in. Whether this is true or not, lowering that environmental cost during construction will definitely have an impact into the future.
Building the future
The construction industry is slowly catching up with the demands of its customer base. An increased environmental awareness by the general public has made all of us more aware of the impact our way of life has on the planet. Most of us are now increasingly willing to alter some aspects of our lives to help stop it.
Many of these technologies are now becoming mainstream because those initial costs are coming down and they are maturing enough to have a solid track record, plentiful reliable supply and a workforce who knows how to get the best out of them.
Any change to an industry is going to be expensive, require lots and lots of testing and validation before being approved. Many changes also impact costs. Construction companies have had to balance these challenges with a reluctance to pay even more for buildings and for new homes.
There is still a long way to go to make the mainstream construction industry truly sustainable but the path has been set, the technologies have been accepted and our appetites whetted for smarter, cleaner, greener spaces.
Long may it continue!
Article contributed by: Ibex Supplies, construction product supplier based in Littlehampton, West Sussex.