Sustainable Construction: 5 Trends To Redefine The Future Of Construction
The sustainability drive of the environment has led to the individual sectors trying their best to contribute to it. The construction industry in its endeavour to ensure a greener and cleaner Earth had come up with the concept of green buildings. The basic ideology for the same was to create sustainable buildings which were environmentally safe and healthy.
A sustainable building is a building that takes into account People, Planet and Prosperity across all the stages of its life cycles: from raw material extraction to construction, use and even demolition. Only then can a building be truly sustainable, said by Camille Fabre, Sustainability Director, Saint-Gobain Nordic & Baltic.
With the construction industry predicted to grow by about 85% by the year 2030, and this growth is set to create a huge positive impact on the environment with the ever-growing popularity of sustainable methods of construction by incorporating the following things:
- Environmental performance,
- Economic efficiency and
- Social responsibility.
Importance of Sustainable Construction:
Sustainability plays a vital role in the construction business. It seems considering how construction impacts the environment through various construction materials and work carried out. It is very important to carry out sustainable construction as the manufacturing, design, construction and operation of buildings where we actually live and carry out works are responsible for the usage of various natural resources.
Some of the merging green building trends which are already creating a mark are below:
- Green Materials
- Prefabricated and modular processes
- Zero net buildings
- Waste recycling
- Use of eco-friendly and fuel-efficient equipment
Describing each of them in details:
- Green materials: The use of green and sustainable materials in place of traditional concrete and steel are becoming immensely popular nowadays. Steel and concrete put together generally account for about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Thus the use of sustainable materials typically helps to reduce this. Alternative materials for green construction include Grass Crete, Hemp Crete, Wood, and Rammed Earth. Some of the commonly used sustainable materials are below:
- Renewable plant products like straw, bamboo, forest timber etc.,
- Recyclable materials like mud bricks, rammed earth etc. and
- Other non-toxic, renewable and reusable materials.
Even though the use of these materials is expanding at quite a fast pace, there is still a way to go before the whole of the construction industry finally converts.
- Prefabricated and modular processes: One of the most popular sustainable trends is the use of pre-fabricated or modular process for construction. These processes with the implementation of eco-friendly principles in the various stages of production and development have ensured:
- A cut-down on the production of construction wastes,
- Elimination of toxic substances without affecting the quality and
- Reducing the time required for the construction to take place.
This is because the prefabricated structures like steel frames and other flexible components used are manufactured on a mass scale at factories and then implemented at the construction site as and when required. Another important advantage is the use of recyclable materials like steel is the ability to bring to life smart buildings which help in:
- Resource saving and its proper management,
- Increasing energy efficiency of the whole process and
- Minimising its impact on the environment.
- Zero net buildings: This is a very interesting concept which has become a growing trend in the construction industry. The fundamental principle of this concept is to ensure that the energy consumed by a building is equal to the energy produced. This makes them self-sustaining and also reduces their dependence on energy from non-renewable sources. Thus zero net buildings, also known as zero-energy building with their energy efficiency and economic viability, are set to create a huge positive impact on the environment globally and are perhaps the most sustainable trend in the construction industry.
There are huge amount of benefits of the same:
- Separation for building owners from increasing future energy prices
- It requires less energy austerity
- Grid blackouts is reduced to extent
- Waste recycling: Construction wastes account for millions of tons of the non-industrial wastes worldwide and the maximum part of these comes from the demolition of existing construction to make way for a new one. The ability to salvage as much as possible from these wastes in the form of raw materials for new constructions will not only enable cost-cutting but also bring down the emission of greenhouse gasses considerably. Having responsible management of the wastes occurring in construction is a significant part of sustainable construction.
Key Benefits of recycling waste:
- This will decrease the consumption of energy, as recycling materials save a huge amount of environmental energy
- It will reduce waste in landfills
- Decrease in cost of transportation or disposal
- Increase in income source as recycled construction waste is in huge demand
- Use of Eco-friendly and fuel-efficient equipment: Construction worksites are generally associated with the use of heavy duty equipment’s which produce an alarming amount of pollutants. This is not only adversely affecting the environment; it is making healthy people fall sick by inhaling this polluted air. Thus, today, construction companies in order to ensure the health and safety of both the environment and its workers, are opting for eco-friendly equipment which produces lesser amounts of smoke thereby ensuring greater fuel efficiency.
Sustainability, today, has become more than an afterthought. It is well on its way to becoming an integral part of all construction process. Thus new eco-friendly trends are set to emerge both in the production processes and construction practices thereby ensuring the sustainability of green construction. It is vital to develop new technologies and methods to cope with energy demands.
A proponent of healthy living in a safe environment, the author has put his vast repertoire of knowledge to use in educating people and popularising the concept of green building. He is one of the few Calgary general contractors who have successfully managed to change the mindset of people.