78% of people are more likely to purchase a product that is clearly labeled as environmentally friendly. 96% of people feel like their actions, such as their buying power, can make a difference. It’s no wonder larger brands like Amazon, McCormick, HP, and Pratt & Whitney are moving sustainable business practices to the top of their priority list.
In 2018 alone, the construction industry produced about 60 million tons of waste in the United States, which begs the question: What are you doing to reduce waste and become more sustainable in the construction industry, and have you considered green building?
Green Building Continues Its Ascent in the Global Marketplace
Green building is a resource-efficient method of construction that produces healthier buildings that have less impact on the environment and cost less to maintain. This sustainable approach to construction accounts for a building’s entire life cycle: siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition.
Client demands largely trigger the growth of green buildings, which as we’ve seen from the consumer to the commercial level, doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Green Building Techniques Increasing in Popularity
Clay Plaster and Brick
Clay material is extremely versatile and can be used in many different ways in construction. Clay plaster can be used in place of regular plaster as well as paint as it doesn’t give off any harmful toxins during and after application and installation. It also helps to fight humidity and indoor airborne toxins that may be found in buildings. Like clay plaster, clay brick doesn’t release harmful toxins. It can be recycled and is known for its low maintenance, permanence, and durability. Clay bricks are also energy efficient as they aid in temperature stability.
Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity and can be substituted for up to 95% of raw materials. Recycled glass is a great material to use when building infrastructure as it can be quite harmful to the environment when discarded. Glass produced from recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20% and related water pollution by 50%.
Mycelium comes from the root of a mushroom and while it is widely used as an eco-friendly alternative for packing materials, it is slowly rising in popularity as a good material to use for construction. Mycelium can be made into bricks or used for insulation. The tissue of mycelium is fireproof, non-toxic, water-resistant and it has proven to be stronger than concrete.
Reclaimed or Recycled Wood
Reclaimed or recycled wood can be used in green builds for a more natural look while still reducing an ecological footprint by using used wood instead of new wood. It also reduces the devastating impact of deforestation and has much lower emissions than the logging, transport and processing of new wood. Plus, with the rising cost of building materials, using recycled wood cuts costs.
Steel is one of the most recycled materials in the world. It’s extremely strong and durable and doesn’t lose its properties after being recycled, making it the perfect material to use for a strong, green build. In fact, steel can be recycled indefinitely and be used for green roofs. Even after incineration, steel can be recovered for recycling.
AshCrete is used as an alternative to concrete and is made out of 97% recycled material. Since AshCrete has smaller pores and requires less water in the mixture, it’s a material that’s found to be stronger than Portland concrete. The fine particles within AshCreate reduce permeability—one of the main causes of premature failure in concrete projects.
Straw might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about building materials (especially knowing what happens in The Three Little Pigs). In reality, straw is an excellent material to use for green buildings. The bales are made from waste products and are a less expensive way to achieve thick walls in your building. It’s renewable and has great insulation properties that can be used for temperature stability, making it energy efficient. The harvesting of straw is an environmentally friendly process and the material is 100% biodegradable when the time comes.
Due to its lightweight and elasticity, the use of bamboo as a building material is popular in areas of the world where earthquakes, hurricanes, and typhoons strike more frequently. Bamboo is one of the strongest building materials, having the same strength ratio as steel and almost twice the compression ratio of concrete. Just like straw, harvesting bamboo is an environmentally friendly process since it grows fast and reduces pollution white it grows.
Ferrock is made out of ground-up glass and recycled steel that was turned to dust. Both of these materials combined make this concrete-like material. Ferrock not only acts as a strong cement but it helps to reduce CO2 and aids in reducing pollution. Plus, Ferrock costs less in transportation and labor movement as it weighs 10-25% less than normal cement.
Cork’s multifaceted use in green building construction is making it one of the best up-and-coming materials. It can also be used for walls, floors, and ceilings. With its 200 million air cells per cubic inch, it acts as a cushion absorbing vibrations and direct impacts. While cork is eco-friendly, it’s also water and mold-resistant. It can be used for insulation, is renewable, and can be reused without losing its properties.
Applicable Sustainable Building Practices
As consumer demand for green building and building methods increase, sustainable building practices must as well. Looking for further information on sustainable construction? Check out our blog, Sustainable Construction 101, here. And, if you’re in search of guidance on how to go green on your next construction project, give us a call today.
Allan Galbraith is co-owner of Galbraith/Pre-Design, Inc. and oversees company operations and strategic planning. He is an accomplished business leader with over 22 years of experience in commercial and industrial construction.