A guide to environmentally friendly construction

by Laura

It has been predicted that the planet will reach its capacity for the global consumption of oil sometime within the next 20 years. 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.

Cheap crude oil in particular is relied upon in construction in the Western world, as businesses can use it in processes that help to build the machines that they use. Surprisingly, within the UK, 50% of all carbon emissions produced by machinery and production are accounted for by the construction industry.

Fortunately, there has been increased awareness about how pollution is impacting our planet in the long-term and this is leading to attitudes gradually changing.

In fact, the UK government has already passed legislation whereby construction firms are being instructed to use green processes when working on 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.

This rewarding new opportunity within the construction sector should not be ignored by businesses across the UK. This is because in the US last year alone, estimated revenues for eco-friendly construction amounted to $245 billion.

If you’re interested in enhancing your construction site with eco-efficient practices, Reconomy, a provider of waste management solutions for recyclable materials and also skips for hire, has the steps you need to implement them effectively.

Why your site can benefit from eco-friendly construction techniques

Over its lifetime, 80% of a building’s total running costs are spent operating and maintaining a building. 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.

Don’t forget about the benefits of daylight when considering the design of a building too, as natural light will obviously help you cut back 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.

When you begin constructing a building, make sure you use recyclable and long-lasting materials wherever possible. A result of doing this is that 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.

Eco-friendly construction techniques to consider

There are three key things that you should think about when designing and constructing a structure that is ecologically friendly to the environment…

  1. Establish whether materials have been locally sourced or if they’re renewed; if they aren’t, can they be recycled in the future?
  2. 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.
  3. Finally, once building the structure is complete, is there any energy generated within it that is wasted?

As well as these three points, think efficiently — for example, use recycled paper as a form of insulation both during and following 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.

How to go about designing ecological structures

There are many eco-friendly technologies and energy-efficient practices available to you when considering a proposed structure that you are to work on. This can include…

  • 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.

All of the above techniques and practices benefit in the ultimate goal of slowing 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.


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