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4 practical tips to bring sustainability into your building design

The shift towards sustainable design

Every business across the globe is adopting the ‚green ideology‘, which is pretty evident in the form of revised regulations, optimum utilisation of resources, implementation of eco-friendly practices, increasing use of green products, environmental initiatives and sustainable designs.

An increasing inclination towards energy savings, waste reduction, and space efficiency has put the construction industry at the very forefront of adopting sustainable building designs. Whether it is residential, commercial or industrial construction, infrastructure developers are altering their current practices to create greener structures that greatly reduce the impact of construction on the natural environment and human health.

The ever-increasing population has left little time for the optimisation of urban environments, making sustainable structures a vital keystone for securing long-term social, economic and environmental viability.

Taking this drive further, let’s explore how the construction industry can adopt a sustainable approach in every project.

Adopting sustainability in construction

Sustainable construction incorporates three main elements – social responsibility, economic efficiency and environmental impact. These elements govern the architectural quality, building design, processes, technologies and working conditions and serve as the basis for sustainable construction.

Simply put, any sustainable design involves the following four practices:

Leveraging low-impact construction materials

Manufacturing construction materials requires a lot of energy and the best way to bring down the energy expended on manufacturing processes is using low-impact materials that are recycled or repurposed.

Replacing conventional construction materials with used or reclaimed materials will greatly minimise the ecological footprint of your project by reducing CO2 emissions and avoiding toxicity. You can also leverage accurate truck scales to further minimise construction scrap.

Capitalising on renewable energy sources

More than 97 quads of energy are consumed every year on construction processes in the U.S. alone which accounts for 19% of all the energy consumed globally. The use of renewable energy sources such as wind energy, hydro energy and solar energy and shifting to energy-efficient equipment and machinery will not only optimise energy savings but also reduce fuel footprint.

Renewable energy can also be incorporated in the building design by constructing structures that are well-ventilated, make the most of natural light, are fitted with smart windows that block ultraviolet rays and installed with solar panels on the rooftop for running HVAC units and water heaters.

Focusing on space efficiency

A key cornerstone in achieving design sustainability, space efficiency entails the use of the following:

  • Open spaces that maximise the use of daylight in the interiors.
  • Raised floor solutions that make more space for under floor systems while reducing the overhead space and improving HVAC efficiency.
  • Moving walls, space saving furniture, and folding beds to maximise the usable area and minimise the size of the structure.
  • Minimising surface area by excluding conservatories, extensions, porches and patios in the design.

Maximising the use of space will not only keep the size of the structure small but also reduce the need for construction materials and associated resources.

Reducing construction waste disposal

Construction generates a considerable amount of waste which includes cardboard, glass, metal, insulation, roofing, drywall, cladding and flooring. Most of these materials can be repurposed and reused to reduce the amount of construction waste disposal. Contractors who practice sustainability can take the unused materials upon completion of the project and weigh them accurately, using portable truck scales that are specifically designed for construction projects.

The environmental benefits of adopting sustainability in construction are obvious – reduced noise pollution, reduced carbon emissions, cost savings, faster turnaround times and reduced scrap.

In addition to these benefits, sustainable building designs also improve the productivity of labour, ensure a healthy work environment and reduce the impact on the environment over the life cycle of the structure. The structure also qualifies for LEED certification and it is estimated that sustainable designs yield greater returns as compared to conventional buildings.

Find out more

Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

  • Energy certificates.
  • Environmental impact assessment.
  • Site waste management plan.
  • Sustainable development.
  • Sustainable materials.
  • Sustainable procurement.
  • Sustainability.
  • UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.

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