To put it simply, green building, or eco-friendly building means developing and applying environmentally-conscious strategies throughout the entire process of elevating a building. Eco-friendly construction practices are starting to gain more and more popularity, and for good reasons. They are not only good for the environment, but in the long run, they are also more efficient and cost-effective.
The main goals of green building are to minimize the environmental footprint, not only during construction, but throughout the entire existence and usage of the building. Basically, anything you can do to reduce the negative impact that the construction of a new building has on the environment, from the energy required to transport materials, to the one needed to heat the entire structure, can be considered a step forward towards green building. But what are the best eco-construction practices?
Smart house designing
Every good project starts with a good plan, so the first step towards an environmentally-friendly building is developing a strategic layout. First of all, you must take into consideration the area where the building is going to be placed. Does is get sunlight all day long? Are there any tall buildings around it? How is the weather in this area? These are all questions that need to be answered prior to designing the layout.
When it comes to room placement, the best way to make use of sunlight as much as possible is to place the most used rooms on the sides of the house where you get the most sun. This way, you can reduce the use of artificial light throughout the day.
Of course, to get as much sunlight as possible, you need big windows. Design the windows to both fit the aesthetic and functionality of the house. In the living room area, you can even go as far as having an entire wall made of windows. If possible, consider a skylight or roof windows, for extra light.
Insulation, insulation, insulation
Insulation is paramount for preserving energy. It helps keep the heat or cold in, reducing the need for overusing the heating or cooling installation. The problem with conventional insulation materials is that they contain toxic chemicals either in their composition or in the adhesives used, which not only endanger the environment, but also the people living inside the house. Those chemicals are slowly released into the air and are inhaled into the lungs.
Fortunately, there are many natural materials that can be used for insulation, which do not present any harm. Some of those are even more affordable than conventional materials. Sheep’s wool, for example, can be used as insulation and does not contain any chemicals. If you want an even more eco-friendly option, you will be pleased to know that recycled cotton, obtained from discarded pieces of clothing that are being shredded, is another effective insulation option.
Some companies even produce insulation boards made out of wood fiber. The boards are made out of wood chips that are left over by the timber industry, which are then glued together by using natural, non-harmful adhesives.
Mindful waste disposal
Without proper disposal of the waste that is resulted from construction, all those other good practices would be meaningless. If the construction process requires the demolition of an old building, instead of disposing of the materials on landfills, where they would just turn into piles of dirt, they can be sent to recycling centers, where they can be later on recycled into new construction materials.
Another way to safely and easily dispose of construction materials is to hire skips. Although statistics show skip hire prices are increasing across the UK, you can still find plenty of cost-effective and reliable options online. Price is usually determined by the type of waste that needs to be disposed of, current demand and traffic levels, but typically the average price does not exceed £350 for an 8 cubic yard skip.
Before disposing of anything, make sure it can not be reused in other future projects, which could bring out significant cost reductions. Part of the roofing, for example, can be reused to cover a pergola for the back yard, or a small garage.
Use sustainable materials
Of course, make use of as much recyclable or biodegradable products as possible. Apart from reusing old materials, contact companies that provide recycled construction materials. Brick, mortar, adhesives, there is a wide range of companies that now produce recycled or non-harmful materials for construction purposes.
When possible, also make sure to purchase locally sourced materials. This helps both to support local suppliers and invest in the economy of your city, but also to avoid transportation costs and energy use. Transporting materials form long distances has a massive effect on the environment, as large trucks are known to bet the biggest reason for near-road air-polluting.
Apart from construction materials, make sure to promote the use of energy-efficient house appliances also. LED bulbs, for example, last 35 times more than incandescent bulbs and can help save up to 75% more energy. Low-flow toilets are also a good option for saving water, as well as low-flow showerheads and taps.
Harness renewable energy
Last, but not least, promote the installation of solar panels as much as possible. When it comes to solar panels, some people are scared by the initial prices of installation, but in the long run, the return is worth the investment. Some governments even offer help to those who want to invest in solar panel installation.
Solar panels can also be used in the construction phase, to generate power for the equipment used. This will not only reduce operational costs, but will also back-up the eco-friendly practices you are trying to promote. This will serve as an example for the entire industry and prove that the way construction was done by now can be improved.
Taking care of the environment is a duty that everyone should perform. It shows concern for the issues that the entire world is confronted with at the moment and provides people with a way to see that traditional methods are outdated and need to be brought into the present day. Green building is a positive way of disrupting the construction industry while also giving back to the planet.