Sustainable Building Materials Is a New Trend in Global Construction Industry
The construction sector has always faced criticism for its carbon emissions. Starting from the infrastructure to the particulate emissions left behind in the air, it acts as a source of air and sound pollution; this has pushed the sector toward finding more sustainable ways of building. Owing to this, in recent times, sustainable building materials have gained prominence as the global construction industry’s newest trend.
“Governments across the globe are taking various measures to address the issue of pollution caused by the construction sector. Concepts like LEED certification have been implemented in most developed countries to ensure energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Roshni Nair, Lead Analyst at Beroe. “However, several construction firms believe that sustainable raw materials to be a lasting solution to present issues. There are several innovative products in the market and under research that are environment friendly and help improve overall sustainability levels in a building”.
Sustainable materials and green technologies have been implemented successfully in various sectors such as commercial, retail, industrial, and healthcare. Several construction firms in the U.S., Europe, and Asia have been actively using such green materials to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency and overall cost savings. The types of sustainable building materials include reclaimed wood, insulated concrete forms, bamboo, green thermal insulation (such as wool, polyester, hempcrete, and cellulose), reclaimed steel, bio walls, structural insulated panels, aerocon blocks, electrochromic glass, and recycled rubber.
There are numerous drivers to this trend:
Cost Savings: The overall construction cost is reduced by 5-15 percent because there is a drop in building operational costs. It depends on the kind of material that is incorporated to promote sustainability. Moreover, if some investment goes into keeping the structure energy-efficient, it further reduces operational costs.
Regulatory Incentives: Most governments have imposed laws on increasing construction sustainability. There are mandatory laws that construction firms need to follow such as minimum requirements and soft laws, which are voluntary tenets that earn building firms incentives in case of fulfillment.
Increased Market Demand: People are more inclined towards buying places with more sustainability documentation. These buildings normally have higher occupancy rates and higher rental rates too, since they are always the first choice of tenants. The materials result in improved occupant health as well.
Higher Quality and Property Value: Sustainable building solutions result in reduced risks and increased recyclability. They also improve the building quality and thus, shoot up the property value. The biggest challenge, however, is to prove the cost and efficiency in a consistent way toward the industry.
The constraints to property that is made with sustainable materials are:
High Initial Investment: The use of sustainable building materials results in a high initial investment, which most buyers find a burden. This is because the early-stage funds and down payments increase when compared to regular property.
COVID-19 Impact: Many construction firms have been facing funding shortages because payment terms have been revised in the aftermath of the pandemic. For small companies that have faced a financial crunch due to lessened profits and job losses, it becomes difficult to afford such buildings as office spaces or homes. Buyers also encounter issues with construction tied up with third-party finance companies.
The implementation of green building materials in construction will result in decreased operating costs of all facilities. Buildings with LEED certifications have recorded a 20 percent decrease in annual maintenance costs. They also tend to attract higher rents. For example, in Los Angeles, a traditional building gets an average of $2.16 per sq. ft, but a LEED-certified one rents out for $2.91 per sq. ft on an average. The government has also implemented rules that improve energy efficiency in all buildings. With anticipated cost savings with these materials, this acts as a major driver of the green building material sector.
“The increasing need and growing demand for sustainable buildings worldwide mandate a change in traditional technologies and practices. This change can be brought about by adopting green materials in building construction, which will lead to better energy efficiency and waste management,” said Roshni Nair, Lead Analyst at Beroe. “This concept has been successful in developed nations, and if replicated in other countries, it will help build long-term sustainable construction industry. In both developing and developed markets, the introduction of this concept along with advanced technology will improve the utilization of available resources, construction products, and environmental conditions”.
How do sustainable building materials differ from traditional building materials?
Sustainable building materials are made of renewable and recycled materials that do not threaten the environment and help to reduce the carbon footprints of the building.
Sustainable building materials are made with less water and energy consumption and minimum waste, unlike traditional building materials that require a lot of resources.
Sustainable building materials are non-toxic, avoid occupants' exposure to chemicals, and might be more expensive than traditional ones because they require less maintenance.
What are the benefits of using sustainable building materials?
Sustainable building materials reduce construction costs by 5-15 percent because the materials used to promote sustainability reduce the building's operational costs.
The cost further reduces if energy-efficient materials are used in the structure of the building.
People prefer sustainable buildings because it ensures the good health of the occupant. Hence, the building has a higher occupancy rate, regardless of the rental rate.
Sustainable buildings also possess lesser risk with higher recyclability.
How do sustainable building materials contribute to energy efficiency?
Cellulose, straw bale, and recycled denim are some sustainable materials used in the building, which insulates the building, reducing the need for energy for heating or cooling the building. White roofs act as reflective roofs, which prevent the building from absorbing a lot of heat and reduce cooling costs.
Sustainable buildings have wind turbines and solar panels that save the energy acquired from fossils and decrease greenhouse gas release.
These buildings often incorporate energy-efficient water treatment and transport.
How can I find sustainable building materials for my construction project?
The first step to finding building materials for your construction project is researching sustainable, renewable, and non-toxic materials.
You should pick up materials certified by sustainable organizations, ensuring that these building materials are environmentally friendly.
After finding the right materials, you must look for a trustworthy supplier who can make a cost-effective deal in providing these materials.
Lastly, before buying the materials, take the opinions of experienced contractors or architects about buying appropriate sustainable building materials.
What are the cost implications of using sustainable building materials?
Sustainable building materials have both long-term and upfront cost implications. Usually, they are costlier than traditional building materials because of their manufacturing, sourcing, and installation cost.
Conversely, sustainable building materials can be cost-effective in the long run as they save maintenance and energy bills.
Sustainable building materials are also more durable than traditional building materials, saving the cost of repairing.
What are examples of sustainable building materials?
There are a large number of sustainable building materials that are cost-effective and energy efficient. Bamboo can be used for structures, flooring, and walls. Woods from old buildings and ships can be used to make furniture.
Recycled steel is highly durable and cost-effective.
Recycled denim, wood, and cellulose can provide effective insulation to the house. Non-toxic paints reduce the risk of health problems and ensure quality airflow. Solar panels and windmills help to generate clean energy.
What are the seven principles of sustainable construction?
Sustainable construction requires following certain principles to ensure economic, environmental, and social sustainability. The principles are as follows:
Sustainable construction shall always focus on reducing energy consumption using energy-efficient building materials.
Sustainable construction shall involve the use of non-toxic and renewable materials.
A sustainable construction shall keep in mind water-saving measures to reduce water wastage.
The buildings using sustainable materials shall produce minimum waste.
The buildings shall be accessible and cost-effective for people of all classes.
Sustainable construction of the building will ensure that the occupants are healthy and safe.
A sustainable building shall be easy to maintain and require less repairing.
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