Sustainable buildings are those that are designed to conserve all types of resources, from construction to end-use. In this guide, we will explore the features that make up a sustainable building and how they help conserve the environment.
The construction industry is a major pollutant and is accountable for 4% of particulate emissions, noise pollution, and immense water pollution. This is bad news for the planet, especially during these critical times where climate change is rapidly growing. Fortunately, we continuously see more “green buildings” that use sustainable resources such as cardboard as a concrete void former and self-luminous products that reduce the electrical load.
So, what are the features of a sustainable building? How can they help protect the environment?
1. Strategic location
An important trait of a sustainable building is its proximity to transport systems. A building that is closer to public transport systems, such as bus stops and subway stations, would mean more of its inhabitants are using them. With more people using public transport, the need for vehicles is minimized, causing fewer greenhouse emissions. It may sound too simple, but it can create a significant impact on air quality.
2. Energy efficiency
The use of photoluminescent material is only one step to reduce energy consumption. But how is energy efficiency maximized for end-use? A sustainable building should have thorough insulation, good-quality glazing and windows, and less thermal bridges to be as energy-efficient as possible.
Thermal insulation is a simple yet effective way of reducing energy consumption, decreasing not only the electric bill but the carbon emissions caused by heating as well. Meanwhile, airtightness due to high-performing glazing and windows prevents air from passing through gaps or cracks. Any changes in temperature due to air leaking into gaps cause both discomfort and higher carbon dioxide emissions.
3. Environmentally-friendly materials
Many engineers and architects are hopping on the “green building” movement, making a lot of changes in the traditional building design such as the materials used in construction. The use of environmentally-friendly materials does not only reduce the impact on the environment but creates stronger, more stable buildings, too.
For a material to be considered sustainable, it has to:
- Be rapidly renewable (ex. bamboo)
- A better substitute (ex. cardboard instead of styrofoam as concrete void former)
- Be reused or recycled (ex. Bagasse Board)
- Reduce pollution (ex. paint with low VOC emission)
4. Recyclable construction waste
In the Australian National Waste Report of 2018, the country produced 20.4 metric tonnes of construction and demolition waste. The worse news is that some construction materials can cause detrimental effects to human health and the environment if they are not recycled.
A lot of construction scraps can be recycled and reused, including masonry, windows, fixtures, lumber, roofing, cardboard, paper, metal, and organic debris. These materials can be used for other projects or be converted into other things.
This guide is just a simple example to show everyone that even modest changes can create a significant impact on the environment. With the rise of sustainable building technologies, we hope to see more green buildings and less pollution in our water, air, and land.