Construction work is famously messy, rough and wasteful so how can it ever go green? In truth, while the industry as a whole may be lagging behind the ideal, construction projects are the ideal opportunity to go green as they build the environments we’ll use for decades or centuries. Here are a few areas to consider as you begin to develop your construction plan.
Consider the building’s interactions with nature
Essential if you’re building on a new green belt site, but also important in the most urban areas. Even our city centres are teaming with life, and if it’s possible to create a bit more green space, avoid damaging important habitats and generally create buildings which are respectful of the local environment, this is an excellent first step. Office workers, shoppers and residential tenants all love restful green spaces, so this provides a financial incentive for making the green choice.
Plan power, water and waste systems
Long term, these three elements make up a big part of a building’s ongoing environmental impact. Many green options pay for themselves over time, including more effective insulation, alternative energy sources, and grey water systems. Others have very little cost overall: making the most of the natural light available by positioning windows is low-cost but can have a big impact both on energy costs and how much people enjoy the building.
Choose materials wisely
A lot of the processes used in construction and their environmental impacts are dictated by the materials chosen. The choices aren’t always straightforward, and at Pure Construction we work hard to find the best fit for each of our customers. As an example, it seems obvious that shipping stone from China for a UK build will have a high environmental impact: stone is heavy, China is far away. However, local alternatives may have other costs: many European quarries have been exhausted over the last century to the point where extracting further materials is very energy intensive. Likewise, depending on the project, it may be possible to reclaim pre-used wood; import sustainably grown wood; or use an alternative material entirely.
A few benefits of green construction
By definition green construction should be better for the planet in some way, perhaps by reducing energy or water usage during building or running; minimizing construction waste; using environmentally friendly building materials; and/or being in sympathy with the local environment, such as considering local wildlife habitats. There are many other benefits, so before we wrap up here are a few of the less obvious ones:
* Lower running costs – water reclamation, alternative energy sources and natural light are just some of the green options that reduce running costs.
* Future proofing your investment – as the environment becomes more important to more people, green buildings will remain attractive and profitable.
* Subsidies and regulations – some subsidies and tax breaks are available to encourage green building practices and it’s clear that regulations will continue to tighten, giving green builders a head start.
* A better environment for people – green construction is necessarily thoughtful construction, which makes it the ideal opportunity to create a better home or work environment for your future tenants. Many green practices – such as planting trees and taking advantage of natural light – are great for people, too.
* Good PR – it’s hard to argue that we shouldn’t save the planet. Green buildings are great PR, whether you’re seeking planning permission, tenants or customers.