Green construction is a growing trend in the construction industry.
For any project manager, finding new and evolving ways to maximise efficiency and minimise cost is a huge priority. From design to planning to implementation, it’s important a building is sustainable and fit for the future.
Business as usual is no longer acceptable. The construction industry alone has a huge carbon footprint and contributes dangerous amounts of emissions to the environment each year. The need to create a more sustainable world has recently been elevated by a number of natural disasters. One of these being the unprecedented Australian bushfires where thousands of people lost their lives and homes.
As a result, this has brought the issue of an unsustainable world to the forefront of public consciousness.
In this blog post we will explore a range of green construction techniques to help building teams incorporate these methods into their next project. By sourcing sustainable materials and following sustainable practices, you can be confident that you’re building will be operationally efficient throughout its lifetime.
What Is Green Construction?
Green construction means using renewable and recyclable materials when building new structures. This helps to minimise energy consumption and waste which reduces the negative impact this industry has on the environment.
The primary goal of green construction is to source more sustainable materials and building methods to contribute towards a healthier planet. This goal isn’t achieved when the building is complete, as the building should continue to be sustainable throughout its lifespan.
For example, the design should include different elements which have an ongoing positive influence on the environment. This covers thorough insulation to prevent any heat loss, and solar panels to decrease energy consumption.
Why Is Green Construction Important?
As we’ve briefly discussed, the construction industry as a whole has a huge negative impact on the environment.
For starters, energy usage is high, as this sector in particular relies heavily on fossil fuels. In fact the construction industry contributes 45% of the carbon emitted in the UK.
The fabrication and shipping of different materials can also have an impact on the environment as a result of transportation. If you are buying components from a different part of the world, consider the journey it takes to reach your business site.
Furthermore, mining for raw materials can pollute local water tables, which could threaten water sources that we all depend on. In fact, the manufacturing of concrete has resulted in 2.8bn tonnes of Co2, which is set to increase in the upcoming years.
You also need to consider the impact of hazardous waste as different building materials and components need to be disposed of safely. If not, they are sent to landfill which not only affects pollutants levels but also the safety of those living in the surrounding area.
At YardLink, we provide a range of skips to suit the needs of your project. This enables you to correctly dispose of any waste materials, giving you peace of mind that you’re doing your bit to help the planet.
LEED Scoring in Green Construction
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It is used to certify the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings and was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The system can be used for any type of building and provides a framework for healthy, efficient, and cost effective green buildings. It covers all stages within a project build including new construction, interior fit-outs, and operations and maintenance.
This is a globally recognised certification and is a symbol of sustainability and achievement. When designing and planning a green building, there are lots of considerations to take into account to ensure you have fulfilled the LEED scoring system. As a result BIM software is very useful as it enables all parties to collaborate and work together.
If you’re unsure which LEED system to use, check out this guide to determine which rating system is best for your project.
Green Construction Techniques
As well as the two examples outlined above, there are lots of ways project managers can contribute to environmental sustainability.
Let’s take a look at some of these in more detail.
Solar power is a popular green construction technique and can be used in two different ways. The first is active solar power, which involves the solar power system absorbing radiation from the sun which is then used for heating and electricity purposes. As such, this reduces the need for electricity or gas and does not rely on burning fossil fuels. Although the upfront installation costs are high, you can enjoy long term savings.
The second way is passive solar power. This uses the sun's radiation to heat buildings by strategically placing windows and using heat-absorbing surfaces. The windows let energy in and the heat absorbed reduces the need to switch on the heating during the colder months.
Biodegradable materials are a green construction technique as they are eco friendly. Lots of traditional construction methods lead to a build up of waste products and toxic chemicals, which usually take hundreds of years to degrade. And even when they do degrade, they still pollute and damage the natural environment.
On the other hand, biodegradable materials such as organic paints, bamboo, timber, mycelium (a kind of fungus), and classic linoleum do not end up in landfill. Therefore they limit any negative effect on the environment as they break down easily without releasing toxins. These materials can be used to build foundations, walls, and act as insulation.
Insulation is a key component of any building as it helps keep heat in and stops cold air from passing through.
However, many people fail to realise that insulation is essentially a wall filler. Its core purpose is to prevent heat transmitting from the inside to the outside of a building. In addition, insulation is not seen as it is sandwiched between two wall structures. Therefore, it does not need to be expensive or highly finished. It simply needs to work in terms of thermal management.
As such, green insulation has proven to be a good sustainable construction technique as it reduces the need to source expensive, non-renewable materials. In contrast, this method makes use of old and used materials such as newspaper, to produce a recycled material which is still highly effective.
Homes and commercial buildings consume most of the world’s energy through amenities such as lighting, heating, and ventilation. All of these energy sources can be switched on for long periods of time - even when they are not in use. Therefore, this is a waste of electricity as there is no demand for them to be powered on.
Before smart buildings and smart appliances, a building manager would receive a call from a utility to turn off different equipment. The manager would physically have to walk around the building and manually switch each of these off when they were no longer needed. However, smart appliances are changing the game as they have digital control systems that automate this process.
Examples include smart lighting systems, thermostats, water saving devices, plugs and power strips, and predictive maintenance. The aim of each appliance is to prevent over consumption and energy usage.
Low-Energy House and Zero-Energy Building Design
Sustainable construction technologies usually include mechanisms to reduce energy consumption. For example, by constructing a building with wood, this is a sustainable construction method as it has a lower embodied energy compared to buildings made from steel or concrete.
Furthermore green construction also makes use of designs that reduce air leakage and allows for free flow of air. They also incorporate high quality windows and effective insulation techniques to reduce the need for air conditioning and interior heating.
Strategically placing windows is another green construction technique that encourages lighting to stream through during hours of daylight. As we’ve covered, this then heats the buildings and minimises the need for electricity and saves energy. The use of renewable energy such as solar panels for lighting and water heating is also part of a low-energy house and zero-energy building design.
Electrochromic Smart Glass
This is a new technology that works best during summer months to shut out the harsh heat and glare from solar radiation. It’s useful across a variety of settings where solar control is an issue such as classrooms, healthcare facilities, retail outlets, office spaces, and museums.
It works by using tiny electric signals to slightly charge the windows to change the amount of solar radiation it reflects. This gives users control over the amount of solar radiation they choose to block whilst still giving them access to daylight and outdoor views.
By using electronic smart glass commercial buildings can save a lot on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning costs. This enables building owners to achieve their sustainability goals through energy conservation by maximising solar energy and minimising heat and glare. In turn, this reduces a building's reliance on artificial lighting, therefore cutting down on energy costs.
Water Efficient Technologies
There are several different types of water efficient technologies each designed to improve water management and reduce the stress placed on natural resources. Examples of this technology include the use of dual plumbing, greywater reuse, rainwater harvesting, and water conservation fixtures. These methods ensure that water is adequately managed and recycled.
For instance, dual plumbing decreases sewer traffic and improves the potential of re-using water on-site. On the other hand, rainwater harvesting provides water for a multitude of purposes and might also be stored for use in the future.
In general, water efficient sustainable construction technologies lower water usage costs and help in water conservation.
How Green Techniques Can Boost Your Business
Any techniques you employ must bring some sort of value to your business so that it’s a worthwhile investment. Whilst it’s all well and good wanting to be a pioneer of sustainable construction, there needs to be a solid business case behind it.
With that said, let’s explore some of the different ways green techniques can benefit your business.
Green construction techniques can improve productivity among your employees which has to be a huge benefit! As a project manager, you will constantly be seeking new ways to maximise productivity within your team. Time is money, and the more efficient you can make your work practices the better it is for both you and your client.
When you start applying green construction methods you will find other areas of the project workflow will also improve. For example, you can streamline projects, minimise delays, and significantly reduce maintenance costs.
There has been a massive shift in the values of the younger generation as they prioritise climate change and understand the importance of sustainability.
Therefore, when it comes to applying for jobs, they are more engaged when a company shares the same ethos. It is naive to think the younger generation will abandon these values when they move into the workplace as they have seen first hand how important looking after the planet is.
If the construction industry is looking to recruit new talent then they need to learn to adapt, and incorporate these values into their working practices.
By valuing sustainability as much as profit, construction companies have an advantage when it comes to hiring a new wave of skilled employees.
Green construction techniques lower costs over the lifetime of a building. As this is a long term investment, it can be difficult for businesses to understand the full value of this methodology immediately.
However, by taking a sustainable approach to construction today, business will reap the benefits in years to come, as it will save them a significant amount of money in the future. As a result, it’s important to look beyond the upfront costs and concentrate on the bigger picture.
As public awareness and attitudes towards climate change continue to grow, there is much more demand for sustainable construction.
Customers want to know they are playing their part in helping the environment and understand the importance of making a building fit for purpose, not just for today, but for tomorrow and beyond.
Green construction is a growing trend globally, increasing 2x every 3 years. This level of growth in such a short time frame represents the demand for sustainability and the move towards using more environmentally friendly processes.
Improves Health and Wellbeing
Green construction techniques go beyond benefiting the environment as they also improve the health and well being of your staff. Two of the biggest concerns of construction workers are poor air quality and noise pollution, as they are exposed to these two factors for long periods of time.
However, these risks can be mitigated by employing green construction techniques. Therefore as a manager, you can be confident that you’re not only helping the planet but also your team.
Green Construction: How Green Techniques Can Boost Your Business
Green construction techniques bring many benefits to your business from allowing you to be more energy efficient to improving productivity within your workforce.
Demand for green buildings has no intention of slowing down as attitudes toward creating a more sustainable future are continuing to grow. Therefore by taking advantage of this consumer shift now, you can propel your construction business forward.
What’s more, despite higher upfront costs, the long term benefits outweigh this initial investment. By employing green construction techniques in your next project, you are putting your business in good stead for the future.
Regardless of which techniques you choose to use in your business, having the correct tools is essential to maintain client satisfaction. At YardLink, we supply a range of equipment to suit the requirements of your next project. From skips to minimise waste to large diggers to keep your site neat and tidy, we have everything you could possibly need. What’s more, we’re a trusted local plant and tool hire company and are committed to delivering the best possible service. For more information or to find out how we can benefit your business, get in touch with a member of our team.