Earth Day and the Construction Industry

earth day

Earth Day this year falls on Thursday April 22. Earth Day each year encourages people around the world to take a step back, celebrate our planet and create awareness about environmental issues, as well as giving us a chance to inspire new ways to protect our planet. On this Earth day we ask how the industry should strive to make construction more efficient and eco-friendly.

The construction industry is responsible for 23% of global CO2 emissions. According to the Green Construction Board, energy and fuel consumption on construction sites makes up around 33% of total emissions from England’s construction industry. 

Buildings and their construction together account for 36 percent of global energy use while 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually.

As millennials hit the construction industry market along with a strive to attract more Generation Z into the industry there is a push to introduce eco-friendly, or green construction to the industry.

To reduce the impact construction has on the planet, measures to increase green building has developed and focuses on finding a balance between high-quality construction while achieving a low environmental impact.

Some of the most popular and innovative green construction trends are:

LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design)

LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) is also now a key certification within the construction industry. . It is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system. The certification is available for virtually all building, community and home project types, it provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. For a building to qualify for a LEED certification it has to be built using strategies aimed at improving performance for example, energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction and improved indoor environmental quality. This includes switching to high-performance lighting, appliances, and water heating systems when building commercial housing.

Introducing New Materials 

When thinking about the materials needed to complete a project simply making a small change in materials, such as considering to use a material with a higher percentage of recycled content can make an efficient environmental change in the construction industry

  • Living Walls

Cement, one of the most common used building accounts for about 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year. But bricks made of living materials could potentially sequester carbon instead

One of the more exciting trends within the construction industry is the development of most living materials. Living walls are walls covered in either compost or plants and shrubbery.The idea of living materials is not only extremely intriguing but also, they have less of a negative impact on the environment. The most promising biological materials are built and made of bacteria and fungi. This ensure that they are light yet strong.

  • Green Barriers

Green barriers are another important trend right now. A green barrier can be made from trees, bushes, or fences covered in ivy and other plants. These plants act as a physical and biological barrier to air pollution. The idea of a green barrier is to surround buildings that produce a lot of waste and harsh emissions, such as schools and factories with plants to help mitigate air pollution. Using plants such as ivy mean that any nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is produced by car engines, typical to roads around schools, ensures that the plants used in the barrier absorb NO2 during their respiration process, 

As businesses strive to keep the planet clean for future generations, design elements such as living walls and green barriers are going to become more prominent.

Recycling 

Materials such as concrete, drywall, wood, metal and cardboard, are just a few of the materials that make up 70 to 95 percent of those discarded at residential or commercial construction sites. Recycling these construction and demolition materials can help reduce both purchasing and disposal costs. The integration of recycling on site could be the first, small step to implementing a more sustainable work environment within the construction industry.

In the coming years, sustainability will be the most significant changes construction firms will have to contend with. Using materials including renewable energy sources, smart lighting, sustainable building materials such recycled steel, low-carbon concrete, and laminated timber, will ensure a slow shift to eco-friendly methods within the construction industry. Now is the chance for the construction industry to make earth day every day.

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