The concept of sustainability has become a universal principle uniting many disciplines in recent years. In theory, sustainability means being able to use natural resources to foster development but at the same time conscientiously considering the importance of continued production, minimising waste, and preventing resource depletion.
The construction industry, with the help of architects, is focusing on green building methods and designs to create structures that use energy efficiently and are environment-friendly.
Primary goals of green building
New techniques in building environment-friendly structures undergo testing every year. Some of these methods are enhancements of decades-old technology rediscovered as an effective way to curtail energy consumption.
For example, structural insulated panels or SIPs have been around for many decades but have only gained renewed attention recently because of the overwhelming need for energy-efficient structures. The SIPs panels UK manufacturers produce are in response to the demand for fabricating high-quality building materials used for residential and commercial construction. To consider a building as environment-friendly, the following goals need to be achieved:
- Efficient use of energy, water, and other natural resources
- Improved health and quality of living for occupants
- Minimise waste and reduce pollution
- Save money on materials as well as labour
- Functional and aesthetically pleasing design
Eco-friendly building techniques also aim to use less fossil fuel in manufacturing and transporting building materials to delay depletion.
What it means to live in an eco-friendly home
Eco-friendly residences are not only good for the environment but also create a healthier indoor environment for occupants. Most conventional building materials emit volatile compounds and chemicals that are harmful to health. For example, timber frames are treated with formaldehyde which is a highly toxic chemical that gets released into the air.
If you live in a home that does not use these types of construction materials, you will live a healthier life and also help promote the widespread adoption of these green building techniques.
Examples of eco-friendly building techniques
SIPs are one example of a green-building technology because of their superior insulation and thermal properties. Better insulation translates to reduced energy consumption required for heating and cooling. Apart from using SIPs, other examples of eco-friendly building technologies include using double-glazed windows and recycled wood.
A whole-building approach also ensures that each part of the home contributes to conserving energy. For example, all lighting fixtures and appliances need to have an Energy Star rating. Sustainable sources of building materials which last a long time without requiring replacements is another consideration to make when building an eco-friendly home.
Recent trends in eco-friendly building materials
Apart from SIPs, current trends in eco-friendly building make use of the following materials:
- Recycled steel
- Plant-based polyurethane foam for insulation
- Straw bales
- Composite lumber with recycled plastic
- Cool or reflective roofing
- Reclaimed wood
- Concrete forms with built-in insulation
These are only a few of the most commonly used eco-friendly building materials today. It is essential, however, to verify with building regulations in your area if using any of these are within building codes and standards.