November 18, 2017

How The Construction Industry Is Saving The Environment

Most of us are in agreement that the environment is in trouble. Modern life is putting a huge strain on the planet and if we want to stop it, we need to change the way that we operate. One of the biggest contributors to environmental problems is the construction of new buildings. Buildings account for the around forty percent of the world’s energy use which is larger than any other contributor. While we can’t stop that completely, by installing more eco-friendly provisions when we put the buildings up, we can massively reduce it. Buildings are also responsible for a big chunk of the world’s water usage. The figure of around fifteen percent is far smaller than the amount of energy that we use, but it’s still far too high. Perhaps the most worrying statistic is the amount of CO2 emissions that are coming from buildings. Most people think about cars when you say CO2, but buildings are just as bad. Thirty nine percent of the world’s CO2 emissions come from buildings so if we don’t make them more environmentally friendly, it won’t be sustainable.

Pexels

As well as CO2 emissions and water usage, the planet is running out of resources. Pretty much every natural resource is feeling the strain and the construction of new buildings is contributing to that in a huge way. Around forty percent of the world’s raw materials are being used in the construction of buildings. Unless we start using more sustainable materials, we aren’t going to be able to carry on doing that for long. So, what do we do? Luckily, there are plenty of ways that we can construct buildings without doing so much damage to the planet.

Contaminated Land

The first stage of any building construction is digging the foundations. In the past, we weren’t so bothered about the environment because we didn’t realize that we were causing so many problems. That means we’ve contaminated large areas of land. You can use the digging of foundations as an opportunity to rectify some of that damage. If you find that the land is contaminated, get in touch with soil disposal companies that specialize in the removal of contaminated material. That way, you can improve the state of the environment before the building is even under way.

Location

It’s an old cliche that location is the most important thing when it comes to property. However, it’s true. When it comes to environmental concerns, the location is important, but not for the reasons that you might think. You can minimize the amount of emissions from cars by placing your property near to all of the amenities. That way you can walk or use public transport instead of driving. The placement of your building can also reduce the amount of energy that you use by quite a significant amount. If you place your home in direct sunlight, it will maintain heat a lot better and you won’t need to use as much energy to heat it.

Don’t Make It Too Big

Flickr

It’s no secret that a smaller building will use less energy, but people don’t always realize how drastic the difference is. The tiny house movement has taken this idea to the extreme and managed to save huge amounts of energy and money. While you don’t need to go to these extremes, minimizing on space can reduce the environmental impact of your building no end because it’s far easier to heat and maintain that temperature.

Energy Efficient Equipment

Outdated equipment is going to undo any hard work that you’ve done on making your building eco-friendly. Large construction equipment is going to use a huge amount of electricity and if you use stuff that was built a long time ago, it’s not going to be efficient whatsoever. Luckily, manufacturers are focussing heavily on developing equipment that uses the least amount of energy possible. What you should be looking for is the Energy Star label. Any equipment that has been deemed sustainable by the Environmental Protection Agency will carry this label so you shouldn’t be using anything that doesn’t have one. As well as making your building more sustainable, it will hugely reduce the energy costs during construction so it can save you a massive amount of money as well.

Insulation

Flickr

A building that loses heat quickly is going to eat through energy and increase your costs by a ridiculous amount, not to mention making it very bad for the environment. Around 50 percent of the energy use in buildings comes from maintaining temperature. If you can keep that heat in, you’ll only need to expend a fraction of that energy. This is easily achievable if you properly insulate your building. Make sure that all of the walls are well insulated and get rid of any cracks around windows that might let heat out.

Sustainable Building Materials

By using brand new building materials, you contribute to that huge percentage of the world’s raw materials that are used up by new buildings. However, if you are clever about the materials that you choose, you can use materials that have less impact. Recycling technology has come a long way in recent years so there shouldn’t be that many parts of the building which you can’t make out of sustainable materials. Reclaimed lumber is a big one because the logging industry has a massive negative effect on the environment. Cutting down trees not only depletes the world’s natural resources, but it also increases levels of CO2. Trees recycle a lot of the CO2 in the air so cutting huge amounts of them down makes it far more difficult to keep levels down. Recycled plastic and glass is also widely available so there is no excuse for not using it in your building.

Solar Panels

Pixabay

The reason that energy use is such an important factor is that we produce so much of it using fossil fuels and they release a lot of harmful CO2 into the atmosphere. If we can produce energy without using these harmful methods, then you don’t need to worry so much about using it. Solar panel technology isn’t efficient enough to power entire countries yet, and larger buildings will struggle to run on solar power alone, but it’s still worth installing them. An average sized house, in a fairly sunny climate, can run itself on solar panels alone. If you’re constructing a larger building, you should still consider including them. Even if they only provide a portion of your energy, it will save you huge amounts of money and protect the environment in the process. If you place your new building properly, it should get the maximum amount of sunlight every day and provide a good amount of electricity.  

LED Lighting

There is absolutely no reason that you should be using standard light bulbs anymore, there is no benefit to them at all. They are up to eighty percent more efficient than normal light bulbs and when you fill an entire building with them, that makes a massive difference. One of the worries that people have about eco-friendly alternatives is that they won’t perform as well, but with LED lights, that’s not the case at all. They are just as bright and they will last far longer because they use so little energy. It will cost you more money to put them in to start with, but the savings that you make in the long-term will be worth it.

Rainwater Tanks

Water usage is one of the biggest environmental challenges that we face right now, so anything that you can do to reduce the impact is welcome. By recycling water, you can do your part, and save yourself money on water bills. By installing a rainwater tank on the roof of your building, you can collect rainwater which can then be used for all of your toilets and faucets.

You can save even more water if you install water saving fixtures in all of the bathrooms. Outdated, cheaper alternatives will waste lots of water unnecessarily and the savings that you make on buying them will soon be outweighed by the excessive water bills, not to mention it’s awful for the environment. Before buying any fixtures, check the water usage and find the ones that use the least.

Electric water heaters are also an essential. When you have a tank heater, you expend huge amounts of energy heating the entire tank and keeping it warm. That’s a massive waste of energy. An electric water heater passes the water through a coil and only heats the water that you need to use. This is far cheaper, and more energy efficient.

In the modern world, eco-friendly technology is developing incredibly quickly. While there is still a long way to go, you should be able to construct a new building using sustainable methods at every stage, so there’s no excuse not to. Once the building is up, that’s not the end of the story. You should always be on the lookout for ways to reduce your energy usage and reduce your impact on the environment.

Posts Related to this Article: