As the world comes to grips with the effects of years of abuse on the earth’s resources, many have begun joining the increasingly popular green construction movement in order to curb some of the effects. Green construction can be expressed in a number of ways, from elaborate off-the-grid options like the Earthship to more practical changes like using eco-friendly paints. Businesses, homes, and public institutions are all joining in, and it’s not just because of the positive environmental effects.
The primary goal to achieve when creating a green building is for it to be sustainable. The World Commission on the Environment and Development defines sustainability as “a form of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This means investing in clean building materials and construction techniques in order to preserve and improve the earth’s condition.
Choosing the right contractor
The popularity of green construction means before choosing the right contractor you may stumble upon many who don’t actually adhere to the highest standards of green building practices. To avoid the frauds always ask the contractor to provide you with their certifications. Most countries (Australia, India, South Africa, the US, and more) also award Green Star certifications for builders who are known to produce fewer greenhouse gases and use less potable water during construction. Finding a contractor who has a Green Star certification may be a great start to your green construction.
Green Building Methods
Apart from using Green Star certified contractors, there are also a number of building methods that you can consider that use recycled materials and are both cost-effective and environmentally-friendly.
Grass, plants, flowers, bushes and other greenery are now being used as insulators and rainwater management systems on roofs. Rainwater is absorbed by the soil and managed easier than when falling directly onto a bare roof. Heating and cooling costs are reduced, and green roof users may also experience improved air quality.
Greywater Plumbing Systems
With a greywater plumbing system, your home’s need for fresh water can be reduced. After you’ve washed your dishes, the water is filtered to your garden for irrigation purposes. Water from your bathroom sink goes into the bathroom toilet tank and the waste from here is the only water that gets directed straight to the sewer.
Since its debut, 3-D printing has become an exciting venture for the construction industry. In 2015, we saw the first successful attempt at using the technology to independently build a bridge. In 2018, the technology was used to print the concrete walls for a full-scale house. This technology cuts a lot of the traditional costs involved in home construction, from reducing the number of materials needed to saving time with complete home constructions in 24 hours.
Green Building Materials
When it comes to choosing the materials to use and where to use them, there are endless innovative options to choose from, including:
This method of laying concrete driveways, flooring, walkways, and sidewalks keeps open patterns in between concrete linings allowing grass and other flora to grow in between. The main benefit of this material is reducing the overall use of concrete, saving both money and reducing the energy-intensive components of traditional concrete. And an added benefit is improved rainwater absorption and drainage.
This concrete-like material is made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder to create a durable, yet light-weight, insulating material. Fully cured Hempcrete blocks are so light that they float in a bucket of water. This means that your transportation costs will be dramatically reduced, boosting productivity in any construction job. The hemp plant itself is a fast-growing, renewable source.
This building material is completely natural, comprising the root structure of fungi and mushroom. It is a highly flexible material that can be encouraged to grow around other materials taking on many shapes, ranging from ground up straw to filling in any mold or form. Once air-dried, mycelium is a strong light-weight material perfect for building.
There are also a number of ways for you to reduce the amount of energy used in your current home before you invest in creating a completely sustainable home.
Double Glazing Windows
Double glazing has become an extremely popular way to insulate homes from the cold of winter, keeping the heat in when you are in most need of it. Double glazed windows contain sealed units which are made from two panes of glass. This is an affordable and sustainable way to keep your home green during the winters.
It may seem trite to include solar panels on this list. But, its popularity is a testament to the effective way solar panels can help reduce the carbon footprint and with government incentives installing a panel in your home is now easier than ever.