July 6, 2017
One thing is clear — within the next 20 years, we will reach our peak capacity in terms of oil consumption as a planet. Although, as demand for oil appears to increase year upon year, the global production of oil appears to decrease. As a result of this growing problem, the construction industry still derives most of its energy sources from oil-based fuels. Throughout the Western world, it is evident that the construction sector is heavily reliant upon crude oils. The reason for this is that without them, the construction process would not be able to function in its current form. This is however, having a detrimental impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Within the UK, 50 percent of carbon emissions are accounted for by the construction industry and machinery within the production process.
Attitudes are finally beginning to change when carbon emissions are considered by the public, and there is a growing awareness regarding how pollution is beginning to impact the planet in the long-term. Green processes are being passed as legislation by the UK government during the construction of new homes and new buildings. Once construction has been completed, those construction firms are now asked to implement further green technologies to help benefit the environment that will benefit the site in the long-term. Although this is an ever-growing market in the US, with estimated revenues set at $245 billion, this is a lucrative opportunity for UK firms that could take advantage of these environmentally friendly practices.
How eco-friendly construction works
Within the environment that it is built, the following core principles have to be established so that a proposed building is ecologically benefiting its surroundings:
- What needs to be established, is whether energy is being wasted during construction. During the production process, machines can more than often be overused. This leads to energy that is wasted that can never be used again. So that a motor isn’t overworked, electric vehicles or machines with hybrid-engines should be used so that when a motor is overworked – electric engines can help power and support the overall load.
- Once the building of the structure is complete, what energy is being generated within it, and is it being wasted?
- Furthermore, assess whether materials have been locally sourced – if they haven’t, a decision has to be made on whether they can be recycled in the future.
As a form of insulation, recycled paper can be used during and after the construction of roofing. Often an expensive material, insulation can become costly within a large site build. By using cheap and practical alternatives – insulation that is produced for individual roofs will be more cost effective when using pre-existing materials. By using timbers that are sourced from sustainably managed forests within the local areas, this avoids problems when it comes to chopping down trees that will not be replanted.
Designing ecological structures
Here are some of the best examples of how energy-efficient practices and eco-friendly techniques can be devised into a proposed structure:
- Drainage systems and water filtration. When biological waste is treated safely, water can be re-used within a building. Rainwater can also be utilised and collected into specific drains, which recycle it so it can be used instead of water from the tap.
- Low-energy lighting. Low energy lighting can last twice as long as regular lightbulbs, which accounts for an energy saving of 100 percent.
- Solar energy panels. Solar energy is fast becoming a cheaper alternative as opposed to other forms of domestic power. It can also help to power commercial buildings or other production plants – whilst powering boilers and other forms of electrical equipment.
How to benefit from eco-friendly construction
Accounting for 80 percent of a building’s overall running costs, operating and maintaining the day to day running of a building can become expensive. Reducing the total running costs of a building by one third, green initiatives can help reduce these costs to 53.3 percent of overall costs.
When considering a building’s architectural design, daylight should always be considered as a factor. This is because daylight helps to save on artificial lighting costs. Furthermore, it is considered by many that the ‘indoor environment quality’ of a building can be improved, benefitting the health of occupants that are present within the building.
Once the construction of a building has started, long-lasting materials that can be recycled should always be considered. This means that fewer new materials will be used during construction, helping to reduce the overall cost of the build – and less energy is consumed in order to produce the new structure.
To slow down the rate of climate change, construction firms will have to use these techniques and materials within their construction processes. By producing homes that are greener, more environmentally efficient and conceptualised with the long-term future of the planet in mind, this will ensure that buildings are constructed in a sustainable way for generations to come.
Richard Walker is the Marketing Manager of Reconomy