Green or sustainable construction is more than just a passing fad; it is a highly necessary adaptation of current building principles to the pressure of climate change and energy saving concerns. The term “Green Building” encompasses both the physical construction process and the final product — the building, home or industrial complex that has been built.
The goal of green construction is to put a priority on the efficient use of green materials and to maintain environmentally conscious practices throughout the building process. The success of any green building project relies on the competence and cooperation of all parties involved namely the architects, engineers and construction company.
The drive towards greener building design and construction practices is motivated by the increasing demand that has been placed on our natural resources including our energy reserves. If we don’t modify our construction practices accordingly, we run the risk of running out of sought-after resources as well as missing out on the opportunity to make the process more cost-effective. Green building equals all-round savings and makes good economic sense in the long run.
Going Green Equals Energy Savings
Green building is not an attempt to replace the traditional design and construction principles of economy, efficacy, longevity and comfort, but rather to enhance them. The main objective is to create a living or working space that is not only healthier for the people using a particular building, but that also reduces the pressure on the environment. It is is a comprehensive approach that begins in the planning phase, continues through the construction process and takes into account the future day-to-day utilisation of the completed building.
This is achieved by sourcing sustainable natural materials and using locally available materials; upcycling reclaimed materials where appropriate; and minimising the amount of waste and pollution incurred during construction. Attention is also paid to the effect that related infrastructures such as pavements, parking areas and driveways have on the water table. Such issues are addressed by using materials like permeable concrete or gravel to improve groundwater replenishment and by implementing graywater systems for on-site irrigation.
Green building places the emphasis firmly on energy savings and the efficient use of water, materials and other resources throughout the process as well as building in green features that will make the building more cost-effective to operate. These include active solar photovoltaic systems that generate renewable energy, making the building as self-sustainable as possible, as well as passive energy saving ideas like planting roof gardens to moderate the heating and cooling requirements of the building and address the issue of run-off in high rainfall areas.
Another passive energy saving technique employed in green construction is the proper insulation of the building during construction. By insulating roofs, walls, geysers and hot water pipes with ISOTHERM, you ensure the building stays cool in summer and warm in winter so saving on the electricity required to run costly air-conditioners. ISOTHERM thermal insulation is made from the thermally-bonded polyester of recycled plastic PET bottles so it also helps save the environment by reducing the amount of plastic waste. In addition to being environmentally-friendly, ISOTHERM is non-allergic and resilient.
These energy savings can be further augmented by positioning the building itself and actively planting trees to provide much needed shade in summer and prevent heat loss in winter. Conscious orientation of windows and skylights aids in cutting electricity costs by letting in more natural light.
Green building also aims to address the influence of our living and working spaces on our social well-being and physical health by designing structures that are aesthetically pleasing and in harmony with the surrounding environment. In fact, the World Green Building Council is presently conducting research on how green design and construction principles impact the long-term health and productivity of those who live and work in such buildings.
This research will most likely support the findings of a 2009 report by the US General Services Administration which surveyed 12 green buildings and found they not only performed well in terms of their running costs and energy efficiency but that their occupants were happier living and working there when compared to occupants in traditionally constructed buildings.
Certainly green building is going to play an ever more important role in creating communities that are not only sustainable and better for our environment but for our well-being too. For more ideas on how to go green and boost the energy saving capabilities of your property, contact ISOTHERM today.