Sustainable construction aims to enhance building sustainability and reduce its environmental impact. Discover all its benefits
Enhancing the eco-sustainability of buildings and their construction processes is crucial due to growing concerns about global warming and the finite nature of resources. This reality has placed increased pressure on construction companies to reduce their environmental impact and shift towards more sustainable construction practices. But what exactly is sustainable construction? What are its benefits, and the best methods to implement it?
What is sustainable construction?
Sustainable construction, represents an approach to building or renovating existing assets that prioritize the environmental impact of the project and the construction process in general. A construction approach is considered eco-sustainable when it:
- Contain the use of resources, including energy, water, and materials;
- Generates less construction waste.
It is well-known that the construction sector is one of the most energy-intensive. Therefore, redirecting the construction industry toward the creation of green buildings can contribute to:
- Reducing the environmental impact of construction projects;
- Improving the long-term sustainability of the building;
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
- Preserving natural resources from depletion or damage;
- Protecting health and enhancing worker productivity.
What techniques does sustainable construction use?
The growing interest and the pressing need to embrace more sustainable approaches to construction have led to new developments in technologies, materials, and practices to enable and promote overall construction process efficiency.
In general, to truly implement a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach when embarking on a construction project, sustainability must be among the project’s objectives from the outset of the project workflow. During the planning phase, preliminary choices are made that will influence subsequent design steps and, therefore, the overall sustainability of the process. It will then be essential to move through multiple levels of detail, including the following techniques aimed at sustainability:
- Use of sustainable materials can help:
- Reduce the environmental impact of construction projects;
- Save energy;
- Reduce pollution;
- Preserve resources;
- Create a healthier work environment by reducing the use of harmful chemicals and improving air quality.
- Use of green construction methods means not only using sustainable materials but also implementing energy-efficient construction techniques;
- Integration of technology into the construction process can help construction companies increase project sustainability by reducing waste, improving construction efficiency, and saving energy.
- Implementation of sustainable construction practices can be applied in different part of the building projects, for example:
- Use of green roofs;
- Installation of solar panels;
- Recycling of wastewater.
Sustainability is a constantly evolving field, and architects and engineers must be ready to adapt to new challenges and opportunities. The use of BIM software in sustainable design helps in this process, as it is a powerful tool that integrates data, analysis, and collaboration in a single digital environment. This simplifies the management of sustainability challenges, enhances efficiency, and enables more informed and sustainable design.
What are the benefits of sustainable construction?
The benefits of sustainable construction are numerous, but often not all of the advantages are visible in the short term and therefore escape quick recognition. The positive impacts of a sustainable approach in the construction world also extend to multiple spheres:
- Social sphere;
- Economic sphere.
Let’s explore the benefits in these two areas.
The benefits of sustainable construction in the social sphere
The built environment directly affects the society that inhabits it and uses it, which is why the advantages of sustainable construction on people, their health, and their relationship with places and buildings should not be underestimated. Among the most evident social benefits are:
- Use of sustainable materials that do not produce harmful substances to health;
- More natural light and better ventilation in spaces;
- Greater resistance to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.
It is also essential to emphasize that involving the community in the design process helps create places where people want to live, work, and play, fostering a feeling of belonging and respect for the surroundings. In summary, social benefits include:
- Improved quality of life and health;
- Greater sense of community and pride in the built environment;
- Economic growth for communities and neighborhoods.
The benefits of sustainable construction in the economic sphere
The economic aspects of sustainable construction are perhaps the ones that garner the most attention from builders and are evident in the very short term. Innovative technologies and sustainable construction materials allow us to see economic benefits from the very first day of construction and throughout the building’s lifespan. Economic benefits of sustainable construction include:
- Reduced construction costs due to lower resource usage, such as water and energy;
- Improved productivity through more efficient construction methods;
- Reduced repair and maintenance costs throughout the building’s lifecycle;
- Lower ownership costs thanks to reduced energy and water usage.
How to reduce the environmental impact of construction?
The construction sector is among the planet’s most resource-intensive and energy-consuming industries, making it increasingly necessary to reduce the environmental impact of construction. One way to do this is by promoting the sustainability of the construction process and thus the overall performance of the asset, which includes all phases of its lifecycle.
Approaching the construction process sustainably involves:
- Reducing the production of waste materials, both during construction and throughout the building’s lifecycle;
- More efficient use of construction materials;
- Less pollution when materials are locally sourced;
- Reduced waste of energy resources.
There are numerous technological solutions that can increase the sustainability of a building and reduce its environmental impact, thanks to advances in technology. Some of the most common, efficient, and often cost-effective solutions include:
- Green roofs, an aesthetically pleasing and efficient way to provide shade during hot summers and improve a building’s water use by capturing and recycling rainwater;
- Photovoltaic and solar thermal systems;
- Proper building and room orientation;
- Thoughtful water resource management, including the installation of rainwater harvesting systems, wastewater treatment and purification systems, and water-saving installations;
- Use of natural materials free from toxic substances, as well as recyclable, reusable, or locally produced materials;
- Harmonious integration of the building into the environmental landscape.
It is clear that the world needs a sustainable transformation of the construction process. Fortunately, sustainable construction methods can be integrated into buildings at any stage, from design and construction to renovation and demolition. It is never too late to start thinking “green,” so join the movement with the right construction management software capable of addressing the greenest challenges of a project!