Eco-friendly construction and its importance

Eco-friendly construction and its importance

Climate change is ever increasingly in the news, with a recent agreement in Paris to reduce carbon emissions and halt a rise in the global temperatures being made by world leaders. Part of the need for an ever growing world is housing and buildings, historically this industry is a high emissions playground so the two things have never really gone hand-in-hand. Eco-friendly construction is starting to become more common however, and is the method of building a structure that is beneficial or, at minimum, non-harmful to the environment and world resources (such as oil). Building in this manner makes use of local, renewable materials as well as minimising the energy required to both build and live in it.

New environmentally friendly building methods have developed as a response to the knowledge that construction has often had a negative impact on our environment and used a large amount of natural resource. The use of natural resource includes the manufacture and transportation of materials – sometimes across continents – meaning huge amounts of oil are required. In fact, in the UK the building industry equates to almost half of all oil use.

In the modern world, there are now many options for those wishing to design and build an eco-friendly building. Architects, engineers and builders are all using construction methods that have been developed across the course of human history and coupling them with modern refinements and technology. There is also those that want to do eco building in their garden and home and is a great resource to look at for this.

Some great examples of new ‘old’ methods include rammed earth construction, a clay-based material that ha been mixed with water and ‘rammed’ into brick or a solid wall, and straw bale houses, or the use of straw as the core structure. Both of these methods increase insulation and make use local resources to build the structure, rather than relying on the import of materials from elsewhere. The increased insulation also reduces the future need for energy to keep the house warm, which should result in lower running costs for the owner.

Being environmentally friendly is not just about these new construction methods, the same principles can be applied to the more conventional building methods as well. Advances in technology and available materials mean that conventional builds can be more eco-friendly and this also allows for retrospective upgrades to become more green. Examples of this would be through the use of pulped recycled paper for roof insulation, solar panels for electricity and hot water generation, water conservation and reuse of waste water and rain water. Most people now also use low energy light bulbs which last approximately 100 times longer and lead free paints, indeed it is increasingly hard to find the older versions of these products in shops nowadays. Simple changes like this help improve the eco-friendliness of a building.

Environmentally friendly buildings are becoming ever more popular and common, especially amongst a number of councils and local housing associations in the UK. There have now been a number of housing estates constructed with the environment in mind, most notably in Edinburgh, London and the Cambridgeshire village of March. These constructions usually source local materials from a set radius and utilise methods that preserve the natural energy created by occupants and supplementing it with renewable energy sources, such as a biomass power plant – as used on an estate in Sutton. These housing association projects are a great example of the fact that it is not just the wealthy that can build in this manner and benefit from it, everyone can.

A popular event in the UK “Ecobuild” which takes place every year in the Excel Area in London. Ecobuild is the UK’s largest and number one event for specifiers across the built environment. No other UK event attracts 33,319 high calibre, senior level decision makers and influencers from architects and developers to local government and major infrastructure clients. Definitely worth checking out.

There are eco-friendly buildings everywhere now and not all of them are elaborate, futuristic designs as we would have imagined 20 years ago. They can sometimes be a challenge in the conception and creation stage but once complete they offer so much. We benefit from living in that kind of environment and the planet is also appreciative on the lower impact that the building has. Eco-friendliness is here to stay and construction methods are going to continue to improve and innovate. If you need a construction company, we recommend checking out Hanlon Case who are environmental construction specialists.

Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property industry – working alongside a selection of companies including Sussex-based engineering design specialists BSE3D, who were consulted over the information contained in this piece.