Originally published by David Cartwright on buildsoft.com.au
n the world of construction, many trends come and go. Some fall by the wayside in a short period of time, but others grow to become an integral part of the industry as a whole. Sustainable construction definitely falls under the latter.
Green building techniques are reshaping the industry and becoming a fundamental part of new building designs. Construction professionals are using many different eco-friendly design principles to construct new buildings and to renovate old ones.
Let’s take a look at these green building techniques as well as developing trends that will define sustainable construction in the future.
1. Modular Construction Techniques to Eliminate Waste
Modular construction is a sustainable technique that builders are using to design structures faster, at a more competitive cost, and with maximum resource efficiency. Modular structures can be built within a controlled environment where wastage of resources is minimised and pollution is controlled.
For example, modular homes being built in large cities such as Sydney can be constructed offsite (in a controlled manufacturing plant) and the final product delivered to the actual location. This prevents environmental pollution and rubbish accumulation. The modular construction process is also carefully controlled for material usage, quality and reliability.
Construction technologies can be used to make modular construction even more efficient. The use of construction software allows builders to prepare accurate material estimates, design 3D images of the construction site, and coordinate activities with all stakeholders. The end result is a high-quality structure that is also environmentally friendly.
2. Use of Green Building Materials
Perhaps the most popular sustainable construction technique is the use of green building materials. These are materials sourced from renewable sources and are also recyclable when the building has reached its lifespan.
Green building materials are typically sourced from sustainable forests (such as timber forests). They can also be produced from innovative manufacturing processes that reduce harmful emissions to the atmosphere. Concrete and steel are two examples of materials that are now being produced via eco-friendly manufacturing processes.
Through the use of sustainable building materials, new structures will have a lower carbon footprint and better energy efficiency. The amount of waste that ends up in landfills is reduced if the building needs to be renovated/demolished in the future.
3. Zero Energy Construction
Zero energy construction is an emergent trend in many different homes/buildings. The goal of a ‘zero energy’ structure is to produce as much energy as it consumes, having a zero net impact on the environment.
Builders are incorporating zero energy techniques to design more efficient, durable and sustainable structures at a competitive cost.
Zero energy construction techniques involve a combination of the following steps:
- Using renewable energy sources (such as solar and wind) to power the building
- Efficient air ventilation systems that eliminate pollutants from the surrounding air
- Better insulation materials that minimise leaking air and noise pollution
- Using energy efficient indoor appliances
Zero energy construction also allows buildings to put back as much energy into the grid as they use during the year.
4. Flexible Space Design to Improve Functionality
Flexible and dynamic construction is another sustainable design technique, which involves making a space functional for more than one purpose.
This dynamic design trend first started with reception areas being designed to also act as a lounge for both guests and employees. The technique is also expanding into hallways, classrooms, stairways and dining locations. Builders are trending towards designing offices to also become liveable apartments, hotels to become condos, and retail spaces to double up as community centres.
By making a previously static space more useful for different functions, builders can reduce material usage and save on valuable resources.
5. Resilience and Durability
Sustainable construction also involves improving the durability and resiliency of buildings. Climate change has heightened concerns of more inclement weather events (such as flooding, bushfires and cyclones), with structures needing to be designed with resiliency at the fore.
More builders are trending towards incorporating risk mitigation steps such as insurance plans, construction technology and renewable building materials. In this way, structures can recover quickly after disaster strikes.
The eco-friendly design techniques highlighted above not only contribute to more sustainable structures; they also allow builders to save costs, increase quality and improve the efficiency of their construction processes.