Why do we aim to be sustainable in construction?

For us or for the environment?

Sustainable construction, green building practices, eco building, environmentally friendly construction, etc. There are many terms we use to describe construction projects that are designed to have a lower impact on the environment over their lifetime, whilst offering the occupants comfort, durability, cost efficiency and functionality. We do this with the view of construction allowing businesses and the general public live and grow without causing harm to the environment for the sake of growth!

What does sustainable construction achieve?

Ultimately by designing to a sustainable building method, such as BREEAM, we minimise the use of energy, water, land and raw materials, reduce emissions, pollution, waste and also the running costs of a building, whilst making sure the occupants health is considered and protected to ensure comfortable and healthy living/working conditions in the future.

A construction project is not as simple as it may seem to those outside the industry. There are many aspects that go into before the actual construction begins, and without the prior preparation and considerations, it is unlikely to offer a sustainable and future proof comfort levels for the occupiers.

A green friendly project will balance environmental, social and economic issues, and are designed for the benefit of current and future generations. Any project will go through many stages such as developing, planning, design, more planning, building, alternating and then maintaining throughout its lifespan.

'Cheap and easy' versus 'sustainability'

A sustainable project will not look to be the cheapest materials or the quickest low-cost design, but to materials that are sustainable and minimal waste will occur. Many projects aim and achieve zero waste due to the detailed preparation, especially when using BREEAM methodology from the outset of the design process it educates the designers, planners, and contractors that are building the project.

The grass is always greener...

Sustainable construction doesn’t always mean grass growing on the roof and solar panels generating energy, but this is certainly becoming more and more popular. As is the low-energy consumption home. In Lincolnshire, a developer known as Gusto Homes and created an eco home community overlooking a private lake, with energy bills allegedly only costing £1 a day to run!

Infra-red panels, rainwater flushing toilets, solar panels...

The houses draw from solar panels for the majority of the power and the clever sustainable design means that there is no need for central heating. The house has infra-red panels that warm the rooms using the rays from the sun. In addition to this, the houses reuse shower water to heat the fresh water and also use rainwater for flushing the toilets, something that we hope to see used more commonly in construction projects in the future. This is but one example of why we should be sustainable and what can be achieved.

Photo Source: thelincolnite.co.uk

Sustainable building methods as an industry standard?

With new standards becoming the norm in construction projects, it is projects like this that demonstrate what can truly be achieved when sustainability is not only in the thought process but at the core of the project! The owners are able to sell properties to sustain their business, and the future occupants contribute to leaving a minimal footprint, as well as lower living costs, surely this is a win-win for all and a president as to where we should be striving to be the norm across the UK and the world.

Within many sectors such as Health, building to the sustainability method BREEAM is the normal, but where it is not compulsory, many contractors drop the voluntary target with a view of saving money in the short term, but is this a false economy, as wasted materials, higher energy usage, etc. all affect the owner’s prospects of selling/renting and also the occupants’ operational costs, so who really wins?!

If you would like to know more about BREEAM and the sustainable benefits Encon Associates can bring to your every day projects across the UK, then feel free to get in touch via the contact page.