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The construction industry isn’t always known for environmental friendliness. However, recent advances in materials and methods have made building new structures and renovating older ones more eco-friendly. What innovative construction methods that benefit the environment can we practice? Read on to discover five ways that crews take care of Mother Earth while creating the home or facility of your dreams.
Synthetic Roof Underlayments and Green Roofs
When you need to redo your roof, the process creates a ton of waste. However, today’s underlayments increase the longevity atop your home and cut waste. Opt for 30-pound felt to protect the structure longer if it gets exposed to the elements due to storms and shingle-loss.
Green roofs are another option, particularly for larger commercial buildings with flat tops. This innovative design features a layer of vegetation over a waterproofed system with foliage that cools the facility and releases life-giving oxygen. Additionally, if you have an onsite restaurant, you can grow much of the produce required.
Passive Solar Design and Solar Thermal Cladding
Passive solar design refers to using the sun’s energy to heat and cool living spaces more efficiently. A building’s materials can reflect, transmit or absorb the rays. One primary feature is a large, south-facing window that catches the light between 9 a.m and 3 p.m.
Solar thermal cladding also takes advantage of our nearest star. These materials work by using heat pipes to transfer outdoor energy for indoor use in heating water. If you don’t use these for the exterior, you can find vertical blinds that absorb solar radiation using this method.
Self-Healing Concrete and Hempcrete
All concrete eventually develops microcracks — you can see these forces at work if you inspect your foundation. These allow the ingress of water and chemicals into the structure, and can eventually lead to the need for a costly replacement. However, self-healing concrete uses the help of bacterial reactions to mend these cracks as they appear, increasing the structure’s longevity.
Hempcrete is one of the most eco-friendly building materials. It’s carbon-negative, meaning the plant absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows and requires no fertilizer or pesticides. Although this material was previously challenging to find in the United States, the 2018 Farm Bill’s passage permits the growing of hemp. Expect this material to become more widely available soon.
Pre-Fabricating Materials in Controlled Environments
One of the most innovative construction methods that benefit the environment involves the use of prefabricated walls and roofs. This technique protects the planet by reusing the extra materials that ends up in landfills in traditional builds.
Additionally, this practice reduces onsite waste. Inclement weather can delay traditional construction, and if a storm blows up during a crucial stage, it can damage studs that crews must replace. However, with prefabricated walls, the building goes up much more quickly, resulting in less material loss.
Recycled, Upcycled and More Sustainable Materials
Lumber requires cutting down a ton of trees — or does it? Crews can now choose from a variety of recycled building materials, such as the following:
- Newspaper wood: As the name implies, these use newsprint and cardboard that is sealed to become waterproof and fire-resistant.
- Plasphalt: Who would have thought that plastic waste could have a useful purpose? This material is more resistant to wear and tear than traditional asphalt, and it uses particles that could otherwise kill ocean wildlife.
- Nappy roofing: While people need hygiene, sanitary products create a ton of waste each year. This process removes organic matter from napkins and reuses the polymers to create waterproof ceiling tiles.
You also have more sustainable choices for materials today. Bamboo, for example, grows much more quickly than trees and now creates anything from fencing to flooring. If you get innovative, you can upcycle things like the wooden pallets you’d typically discard on construction sites. These transform into outdoor wall art for hanging plants.
Adopt These Innovative Construction Methods That Benefit the Environment
Although construction once meant substantial damage, technology has improved the sustainability of the practice. Use these innovative construction methods to benefit the environment on your next build.