Eco Friendly and Sustainable Construction Materials and Methods
In present world scenario there is an urgent need to address the great challenges of our times: climate change, resource depletion, pollution, and peak oil prices. These issues are all accelerating rapidly, and all have strong links with the Construction industry.
Global oil demand is soaring, whilst global production is declining, and oil is set to become increasingly expensive and scarce. The construction industry is hugely dependent on cheap oil, from the manufacture and transportation of its materials, to the machinery and tools used in demolition and construction.
The built environment is also responsible for significant amounts of air, soil and water pollution, and millions of tons of landfill waste. This is a situation that clearly needs to change.
Eco-friendly construction is one such concept which would help to create a better outdoor as well as indoor environment.
Conventional building materials which are harmful to us and to ecosystem are:
- Chemical pollutants from paints
- Plastics and Composite Timbers
- Biological pollutants such as dust mites and molds
Such type of materials may cause symptoms such as:
- Asthma, headaches
- Palpitations and
- Chronic fatigue syndrome.
Benefits of using Eco Friendly Construction Materials and Methods:
- Improve the health of our planet
- Health of our own lives
- Reduces the usage of declining fossil fuels
- Prevents global climate change
- Reducing our energy consumption
- Supports local business and simultaneously the local economy
Green buildings helps in good ventilation design, breathable walls, and the use of natural, non-toxic products and materials.
What is Eco Friendly Construction?
Construction of environmentally friendly house or office which is built with:
- Energy efficiency – This involves making the most use of natural light, installing skylights, solar panels and photovoltaic energy systems. Builders also consider the placement of the building on the land and its shape to maximize natural light usage.
- Efficient use of water – To make the most eco-friendly use of water, sustainable building structures use gray water systems for irrigation, low flush toilets and low flow shower heads.
- Using eco-friendly builders and building materials – This involves the use of sustainable wood, reclaimed wood and other items and recycled construction materials.
- Less or reduce wastage of materials
- Less to no harm to the surrounding environment
- Use of eco friendly materials which has less carbon emission in the atmosphere
- Use of such eco friendly technology which has less greenhouse emissions
- Carefully recycling materials whenever possible and integrating it into building construction
- Re-use of construction material.
The construction technology is constantly being developed and improved but every environmentally friendly building technique typically follows five basic principles – eco construction, eco design, eco maintenance,eco material, eco renovation and eco demolition with an aim to reduce the building’s influence on the environment and to reduce the consumption of energy and other non-renewable resources such as water.
Environmentally friendly houses do not offer any less comfort, safety or durability than conventional homes and often do not look any different from the existing buildings although some eco friendly construction designs also focus on integrating the buildings into the surrounding environment as much as possible. But there is one major difference between conventional and eco friendly buildings – energy efficiency. A well-built eco home uses as much as 30% less energy than most conventional homes. Which type of eco friendly construction to choose depends on where you live, your personal preferences and of your budget.
By choosing an eco friendly construction, you will not only reduce the costs of your home in the long run but you will also help reduce the harmful effects of human actions on the environment.
Sustainable Construction Materials and Techniques or Methods:
Eco friendly design methodology can further reduce energy consumption by minimising energy inputs for heating, cooling and light, and incorporating energy efficient appliances. Saving energy for the occupant also saves money – an issue that will become increasingly important as the cost of fossil fuels inevitably rises in the near future.
The following list are some of the materials used and recognized in sustainable construction:
- Plywood processed without using formaldehyde
- Install big windows that provide plenty of fresh air and natural light
- Install energy and water efficient appliances
- Low volatile organic compounds (VOC) paints
- Install low-emitting carpet
- Wooden/ Bamboo Flooring
- Insulation (Homasote fiberboard – This insulation is made from recycled newsprint. Cotton insulation – Insulation made from recycled cotton materials like denim. Hemp – Insulation made from Hemp fibers are naturally resistant to pests like moths and beetles, meaning there is not need to add pesticides to the insulation panels. Blown insulation – This insulation is professionally blown in and is comprised of recycled newsprint.
- Solar panels
- Tankless hot water heaters
- Low flow shower heads
- Solar hot water heaters
- Recycled carpeting
- Energy efficient windows
- Lime putty
- Lime mortar: this is lime putty mixed with sand. This can be used to bed in masonry, and is also used in pointing or rendering brickwork, and for general plastering use.
- Lime wash: this is lime putty diluted in water. This is used to paint internal and external walls. A pigment can be added to create a colour wash.
- Roofing: Roofing not only insulates the building, but also protects it from inclement weather.
A Green Roof
Green roofs are those roofs that have been planted with specific vegetation using a well-researched sustainable design methodology. They are an exciting new development in the sustainable building movement, and are gaining in popularity across the world.
Types of Green Roof: While there is no standard classification for green roofs, they can be divided into two basic types:
- Intensive Living Roofs – these incorporate plants from between 1 to 15 feet high, including shrubs and trees. They require deep levels of soil to support them and a weight-loading roof. They support a high level of plant and wildlife diversity. They are not suitable for most domestic buildings.
- Extensive Living Roofs – these incorporate low-lying plants from 2 to 6 inches high. They require only a few inches of soil to support them, and only need a low weight-loading roof. They are low maintenance and can be used for any kind of roof, including sheds, garages, houses, balconies, extensions and outhouses, and also commercial buildings.
Both types of green roofs can be used for flat or pitched roof construction. Flat roofs are the most common and the easiest to establish and maintain, but green roofs can have a pitch up to 45 degrees. With sloped roofs, there are design issues affecting drainage and soil loss that need to be carefully considered.
Green roofs can be designed to grow native plants that might otherwise become endangered, and to encourage a wide range of important wildlife including insect species such as butterflies, bees and beetles, and local birds.
Benefits of Green Roofs: There are a number of social, economic and environmental benefits to green roofs, including:
- Increasing home energy efficiency – cooling in summer, insulation in winter
- Filtering and cleaning toxins from both air and water
- Reducing carbon dioxide emissions
- Retaining rainwater before it evaporates, reducing the likelihood of flooding
- Reducing urban temperatures and associated smog
- Insulating against sound and noise
- Preserving and enhancing biodiversity
- Providing aesthetic appeal and ‘green space’ recreational opportunities
- Using recycled materials like aggregates and plastic sheets
Proper site selection :There should be proper site selection and prevention of pollution on the construction site.For example do not build on:
Prime farmland In a floodplain
On threatened animal habitat Too close to wetlands
Construction Site should :
- Minimize environmental tobacco smoke
- Build near alternative transportation
- Provide space for storage and collection of recyclables
- Reuse or recycle construction materials when possible
- Establish minimum level of indoor air quality performance
Even Small Changes Matters.If you can’t afford to make huge earth friendly changes to your home, even the smallest efforts, like planting trees and having a compost pile, can lead to a big impact over time.
- Plant deciduous trees on the east and west sides of the house – The leaves will shade your home from the hot sun in the summer and when the leaves fall off in the fall, the sunlight will filter through and warm your house during the cold winter months.
- Compost – This keeps garbage out of landfills.
Types and Factors determining the type of Eco friendly Construction:
- Prices between different options: This is due to the fact that different green building techniques use different construction methods and technologies. Which means that the more you invest in eco friendly construction the more energy efficient it will be.
- Some types provide energy efficiency exclusively by design and choice of materials.
- Some types have better water efficiency and even energy generation.
- The most expensive addition to a building but it significantly reduces or completely eliminates your monthly energy bills with the most sophisticated photovoltaic solar panels for instance, enable you to generate enough energy to cover all your household needs.
- The least expensive options, on the other hand, enable you to heat water only.
Energy efficiency of eco friendly construction significantly reduces homeowners’ costs for energy as green buildings consume up to one third less energy in compare to conventional buildings. But financial benefits of green building are not the only reason why people are becoming increasingly interested in environmentally friendly homes. Reduced energy consumption automatically reduces their carbon footprint and helps reduce the human impact on the environment. In addition, green construction typically uses environmentally friendly materials and construction methods which are good for both the environment and human health. Eco friendly buildings are a safer and healthier place to live in.
A Necessary Choice
Green building is not only a wise choice for our future; it is also a necessary choice. The construction industry must adopt eco-friendly practices and materials that reduce its impacts, before we reach a point of irreversible damage to our life supporting systems. The industry needs to take its own initiative and find alternative ways to build, using green, renewable energy resources, and adopt non-polluting practises and materials that reduce, recycle and reuse, before it is too late.
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