In recent years, sustainable (or green) construction has become more and more popular due to a combination of factors, including increasing overall environmental consciousness, material availability, and year-over-year cost savings.
What is sustainable construction? It’s a building practice that, among other things, uses green technology, reduces waste, ensures longevity, increases energy efficiency, and, most importantly, reduces a home’s environmental footprint.
Before you dismiss it outright, know that sustainability doesn’t mean living in a mud hut in the woods. Sustainable construction incorporates modern architecture that looks and feels no different than “regular” buildings or homes.
Sustainable Materials: From the Ground Up
Let’s start with the basics. Instead of concrete and steel, which create large amounts of carbon dioxide in their processing and creation, many sustainable homes use natural materials like bamboo.
How is that possible? Simple. It has the same load-carrying ability as most hardwoods and a high tensile strength just like metal. It also has a unique visual appeal that can be used in a variety of ways, including in its natural state.
Another emerging sustainable building technology is hempcrete, made of the inner woody fibers of the hemp plant. It’s insulating and weighs about one-seventh or one-eighth of concrete — and it actually floats in water. Before you start to worry, note that it’s not used as a structural element, only as an insulating infill between the frames, which actually carry the weight. Hempcrete buildings have been built as high as 10 stories in Europe.
Other builds use wood or even dirt itself, shaping it into wooden forms and reinforcing it with bamboo or rebar. Concrete has also been created from ground-up and compressed recycled plastic and trash straight from the landfill. Not only is it sturdy, but it’s also lighter and reduces those nasty greenhouse gases. Think of it as the ultimate recyclable.
These materials have all been proven solid and certified as safe — so you don’t have to worry about living in a straw house like one of the three little pigs! In many cases, you’ll actually be living in cutting-edge technology at the forefront of environmentalism.
Sustainable Commercial Building Process
Sustainability also applies to the building process itself. According to Professor Charles Kibert, there are six principles of sustainable construction: conserve, reuse, recycle/renew, protect nature, create a non-toxic environment, and pursue quality. Sustainable builders apply at least some of these to their practices and job site.
The ultimate goal, Kibert says, is to reduce environmental impact with sustainable development, energy efficiency, and green technology. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including projects that actually reuse or renovate old buildings, which is growing in prominence and popularity across the country.
Builders can also control waste management on-site with precise material cuts to reduce construction waste, as well as set up on-site water treatment. However, sustainability goes further than the construction process itself.
Workers can be directed to use only recyclable or reusable containers for their food, on-site smoking can be limited or prohibited altogether, and energy conservation can be the rule. Even something as simple as unplugging tools when they’re not in use makes a difference. Another technique that’s growing in popularity is to find new uses for outdated or unused equipment. Think along the lines of using that old drill as a buffer or polisher.
Health Benefits of Sustainable Commercial Building
Sustainable builds also have a demonstrable effect on the cognitive functions of tenants, with some studies showing a staggering 61% increase for people in green buildings.
How is that possible? A building that has an emphasis on natural light means increased mood and energy. Using green construction materials can improve air quality both in and out of the building. Better ventilation helps reduce stagnant air, CO2 and exposure to volatile organic compounds. This, in turn, increases overall mood and health.
Economic Benefits of Sustainable Commercial Building
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, sustainable construction created millions of new jobs in the last decade.
Sustainable building often costs more upfront than a traditional build, but you’ll save cash over time, with reduced heating, air, and electric costs and, depending on how sustainable you go, much more. It’s a smart investment that benefits you and the entire world over time.
Trust Paradisa with Your Sustainable Build
Sustainable commercial building is still fairly new and (no pun intended) a developing practice. The key is what materials are used and how they’re used.
Paradisa has the sustainable commercial building experience necessary to build the sustainable structure of your dreams. Our staff and builders work with you every step of the way to ensure your sustainable needs and requirements are met and matched to the best of our abilities. Interested in sustainable home construction? Contact us today and let’s talk!