15 Ways Construction Is Gradually Getting Greener
Construction produces 39% of all the carbon emissions in the world. The industry is making strides toward sustainability, but it still faces challenges. Some of the issues include the higher price of green technology and the lack of concrete action. Companies struggle to efficiently monitor sustainable practices.
For example, some contractors don’t know the full details of the origins of their materials, nor whether they were sourced ethically. Despite these obstacles, here are some ways the construction business is going green.
1. The Construction Products Regulation
Government regulations are taking a closer look at construction practices. These policies are enforcing more environmentally-friendly measures. The Construction Products Regulation defines the requirements for construction products in Europe. It also creates a common language for performance reviews.
Some of the rules focus on eco-friendly methods, such as the use of natural resources. Holding companies accountable encourages them to make more eco-friendly choices.
2. The European Green Deal
This deal outlines targets for sustainability. The goal is for the country to have no net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The benefit of this plan is having cleaner air and energy-efficient buildings. The policy encourages builders to cut back on emissions.
For example, they could use renewable energy to heat homes and provide power. In fact, 85% of our energy usage comes from nonrenewables. During the demolition process, they could also repurpose things like light fixtures. Most of the discarded supplies end up in landfills and release methane.
3. The United Nations Sustainability Goals
The United Nations has created 17 suitability goals to help our planet. Some of these goals include:
- No poverty
- Clean water and sanitation
- Affordable and clean energy
- Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
- Sustainable cities and communities
With these goals in mind, builders can take a closer look at their practices. For example, they can use recyclable materials or use energy-efficient technology.
4. The Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty on climate change. Its goal is to reduce global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius. This agreement brings all of the nations together to work towards a common goal. It sets a framework for providing financial and technical support to underdeveloped areas. Net-zero carbon solutions are already more competitive across industries, such as power and transportation.
5. Reducing Material and Energy Costs
The cost of raw materials is still rising. In 2020, the price for residential construction rose 14.5%. These higher prices make it harder to use eco-friendly materials. So, try implementing cost-effective techniques such as buying in bulk and reusing items.
Another solution is to reduce high energy consumption. You can limit your energy usage by using renewable sources and proper insulation. In addition, smart technology can increase energy efficiency. For example, smart thermostats adjust to your ideal temperature.
6. More People Are Speaking Up
Homeowners are beginning to push companies to design and construct more eco-friendly buildings. In fact, 85% of people said they want an eco-friendly home. These include features such as energy-efficient appliances and lighting.
People are even willing to sacrifice square footage for a more environmentally-friendly house. Tiny homes can waste less energy as well. With the growing demand, contractors are looking closer at their building practices.
7. The Use of Technology in the Design Phase
An efficient home is also one that supports the health of its residents without requiring significant changes over time. Architects are using technology to design and maintain cleaner, greener, healthier homes. For example, Honeywell uses technology to eliminate airborne and surface contaminants. They advise strategies such as using UV-C lights to reduce the spread of airborne illnesses.
Other companies are making an effort as well. Costain provides efficient data management solutions geared towards helping you see where in the process you can lower carbon emissions.
Some companies use mobile technology, such as building information modeling (BIM), to plan designs. This technology also helps with field data collection and scheduling. 3D printing is becoming a popular trend as well. With this advanced technology, it’s easier to develop energy-efficient solutions.
8. The Implementation of Cool Roofs
Cool roofs are designed to reflect more sunlight than traditional roofs. They are made from a variety of materials, such as tiles or shingles. The reflective properties keep the internal temperature of the home cool. This way, the air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard nor contribute as much to the emission of greenhouse gases.
In addition, these roofs prevent the heat island effect in urban areas. The effect is caused by tall buildings absorbing and re-emiting warmth.
9. Adding Cellulose Insulation
Insulation is important to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. It also increases the energy efficiency of the residence. It’s also important to choose eco-friendly materials to reduce the impact on natural resources. Cellulose is made from recycled newspaper. This type of insulation comes in several options, including blown-in cellulose. Cotton is another sustainable material to try.
10. Working With Biodegradable Materials
Oftentimes, newer items are more appealing, but not the best for the environment. Using biodegradable products makes the disposal process more eco-friendly. Unlike items with lots of chemicals, these break down naturally.
One way to incorporate biodegradable materials is through paints. It can be a cost-effective way to brighten up a space. Hemp is another biodegradable option to use in building design. It can be used to provide insulation.
11. Managing Stormwater
Runoff water from storms can wash away plant life and can cause erosion. Plus, heavy rainfall can lead to overflowing sewer systems and flooded streets. That’s why it’s important to manage the runoff water. Use landscaping systems such as building swales or installing a rain barrel.
Another idea is building the driveway from permeable material, such as gravel. In addition, planting a rain garden and adding more trees can help soak up the water.
12. Incorporating Geothermal Heating Systems
This type of system uses the earth’s natural energy to generate power. Water and antifreeze are pushed through underground pipes to collect thermal energy. Then the energy moves to a heat pump where it’s converted to power to warm or cool your home.
A geothermal system relies on renewable energy, which can lower electricity consumption. Most households use about 893 kWh of electricity per month. One thing to consider is installing geothermal heating does require digging up land. This can be a more time-consuming and costly project.
13. Implementing Tier 4 Technology
Tier 4 is a standard created by the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency. It lays out guidelines for new engines used in heavy equipment and off-road machinery. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in these vehicles.
The regulation targets common exhaust pollutants such as particulate matter. If not controlled, the matter contributes to acid rain and causes health issues.
14. Using Solar Power
In the last decade, the solar industry saw an annual growth rate of about 42%. Using solar power limits our reliance on fossil fuels. The emission of these gases increases climate change and pollutes the air. You can use solar panels to generate power to cook and run appliances. Along with the energy benefits, you’ll save money on your utility bills.
You can also use solar power to do the following:
- Run ventilation fans
- Heat your swimming pool
- Charge portable devices
- Heat water for cooking or bathing
- Provide lighting
15. The Advancement of Smart Technology
Smart technology provides convenience and energy efficiency. Smart features, like thermostats, can automatically lower the temperature when you’re not home. Other devices, such as smart washers, can save water. They even have faster speeds, reducing energy waste. Plus, you can control the features through a mobile app.
Here are a few other smart appliances for your home:
- Security cameras
How the Construction Industry Is Becoming More Eco-Friendly
Implementing sustainable practices can be difficult in the building industry. It involves careful monitoring during all stages, from manufacturing materials to raising new construction. There have already been many improvements through new policies and technology upgrades, just waiting for home and property owners to take advantage of them.