The construction industry has a significant impact on the environment and plays an important role in climate change mitigation. The construction sector produces more than one-third of all global greenhouse gas emissions. The construction industry can reduce its environmental footprint by adopting green construction practices.
The evolution of green building practices over the last few decades has led to substantial improvements in energy efficiency, resource conservation, and waste reduction during and after the building construction process.
While companies have started utilising sustainable practices, traditional construction practices remain largely in vogue. With the increasing costs associated with natural resources such as oil and gas increasing every year, it has become more important than ever for builders to focus on providing sustainable structures that use less energy throughout their lifecycle.
What are green buildings?
Green construction or building is a term used to describe buildings that are built in a way that minimises their impact on the environment. Green building has grown in popularity over the past decade as people realise how detrimental traditional construction can be to both our bodies and our climate.
Green buildings typically use less energy, which results in lower utility bills for homeowners. They also use natural materials that require less maintenance over time and produce fewer toxic chemicals than conventional building materials do.
Green buildings are constructed with a focus on environmental sustainability. They reduce the negative impact of construction on the environment by utilising renewable resources, and recycling or repurposing materials to increase their reusability.
The benefits of green construction
A key part of green building is the concept of sustainability. The word “sustainable” refers to construction methods that prioritize long-term environmental considerations, while also enhancing construction efficiency and cost savings. It requires a balance between conserving natural resources, reducing waste production and greenhouse gas emissions, and improving indoor living quality for humans. The benefits of sustainable construction include:
1. Better air quality
Green building promotes healthier indoor air quality, which means less exposure to toxins and allergens. This can have a positive impact on an individual’s health, as well as the overall well-being of their family. Specifically, green homes are designed to maximise natural light and ventilation, lowering stress on the body while reducing concentrations of carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other harmful chemicals found in some buildings.
By increasing the amount of fresh air that circulates inside these homes, many people report that they feel more rested after sleeping in them than they do in traditional structures.
2. Reduced carbon footprint
A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact that your lifestyle has on the environment. It’s calculated by measuring how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases one produces over time.
Building a new home is one of the most impactful ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint, and according to the EPA, building a LEED-certified home can save between 30% and 50% more energy than a standard structure. For example, solar panels on the roof will generate free electricity for years, saving homeowners money on monthly utility bills while also reducing their carbon emissions by an estimated 20%.
By using eco-friendly materials, green buildings can reduce homeowners’ carbon footprint and help prevent damage to the planet. For example, choosing bamboo flooring over hardwood or laminate flooring is better for the environment because it requires less energy to harvest and manufacture.
3. Reduced natural resources usage
Green buildings can help conserve natural resources in several ways. The first is through reduced need for new materials. For example, when builders choose a green roof over a flat roof, homeowners are saving the land needed to support the home’s weight and structure. Also, a green building tends to use fewer materials since it does not require as much insulation or other construction components such as drywall.
In addition to conserving natural resources through reduced material use, eco-friendly construction also reduces land development needs. This makes sense since a green building requires less concrete and less room overall than traditional construction methods do.
4. Reduce construction and operational costs
The construction of green buildings is designed to use energy in the most efficient way possible and to reduce overall heating and cooling costs.
designing green buildings can significantly reduce energy costs over time. By utilizing renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, green buildings are able to reduce their reliance on traditional energy sources and significantly reduce the amount of energy they consume. This not only helps reducing energy costs by 30% compared to traditional buildings, but also reduces the environmental impact of the building.
Green buildings are widely recognized for their ability to reduce construction costs. By utilizing energy-efficient construction materials and smart construction technologies, green building construction can help reduce construction costs by improving the building envelope, utilizing passive cooling and heating techniques, reducing construction waste and increasing construction productivity. Additionally, green construction methods can provide long-term savings by reducing energy costs and increasing the longevity of construction materials.
5. Greater life cycle value
Green buildings are more durable, have a longer life span, and are less likely to need repairs. This means that homeowners will save money over the long term when they choose an eco-friendly construction method. The cost of repair is lower for green buildings. They’re also more resistant to damage from things like mould and infestation, which means they won’t need as much maintenance once they’ve been built.
Green buildings have a lower depreciation rate than other kinds of building materials. This means that their value will decrease at a slower rate than non-green ones after being built or renovated with traditional methods like steel framing or drywall (which both contain urea formaldehyde).
In conclusion, green buildings have financial, social, and environmental advantages. A green building will not just save money on energy bills over time, but also reduce carbon footprint and have a positive impact on the environment.
Green and sustainable construction is a positive trend for the construction industry, and more construction businesses should adopt green building practices to become financially and environmentally sustainable.
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