Image by Jeremy Levine Design
Reducing the environmental impact of building and construction has become a key priority in recent years. Sustainable construction or green building describes the process of reducing the environmental impact of a building over its entire lifespan. Sitting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition are all taken into consideration, in a way that will minimise the use of water, raw materials, land and energy in general, but the traditional concerns of economy, utility and comfort are not forgotten.
OECD countries that have a trading agreement to work together for the stimulation of economic progress contribute substantially to the damage of the environment. The built environment in these countries is responsible for 15-40% of energy use, 30% of raw material use and up to 40% of global greenhouse gases and solid waste generation. Something has to be done to reduce this impact to save the worlds dwindling ecosystems. At the moment building and construction works have the largest share in global resource use and pollution emission but this could be significantly reduced if more contractors opted for sustainable construction.
Measures to reduce energy use are perhaps the most useful in the general lifespan of the building. Often these new buildings may use high-efficiency windows and insulation in walls, ceilings and floors. Onsite generation of renewable energy is also common through solar power, wind power or hydro power; though these are the most expensive features you can add to a building.
Though experts have estimated green buildings as costing 17% more to construct, other sources indicate that this is much lower, at around only 5%. Regardless of this, sustainable building will save you money in the long run, as you will significantly save on energy bills. You may even make a profit in the future as surplus generated energy could be put back into the grid.
There are clear benefits for investing in sustainable homes, not least the satisfaction you will get from knowing that you are doing your bit to protect the environment, so invest today and you won’t regret it.