What is Green Construction?
The USGBC defines green construction as, “a holistic concept that starts with the understanding that the built environment can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on the natural environment, as well as the people who inhabit buildings every day.” So, what does this mean? In simple terms, green construction is an attempt to build responsibly, reduce waste, and help preserve the environment. It is an “earth-friendly” alternative to the construction process.
The green construction process involves the “planning, design, construction, and operations of buildings with several central, foremost considerations: energy use, water use, indoor environmental quality, material section and the building’s effect on its site.” In today’s society, green construction technology is more advanced than every before, and as the world’s supply of non-renewable resources slowly grows rarer and more expensive, the green tech becomes more important than ever before. Green tech comes in a wide variety or materials, covering everything from energy-efficient appliances to geothermal heating. The key is renewability, and the following are a few of the ways we can help change the world.
3 Types of Green Construction
1. Cool Roofs
Cool roofs are specially designed to offer increased solar reflectance and decreased thermal emittance. In simplified terms, they reflect the sun’s rays in a more efficient manner to prevent warm or cool air from escaping through your roof. During the peak of summer, a typical roof can reach temperatures of over 150 degrees, using a cool roof, you can decrease that temperature by over 50 degrees. Even though the temperature of the roof is always a plus, the real advantage comes from inside. The cool roof improves interior temperatures that will save you money on AC bills and help the environment in the process.
2. Biodegradable Materials
Construction emphasizes the new, so sometimes we forget about the flip side. To build, you usually have to destroy at first. The destruction of whatever you are planning to build on top of usually requires tearing something down and disposing of the leftover materials. Using biodegradable materials can completely change the disposal process into something more eco-friendly. Instead of a giant scrap heap of left over and destroyed materials, waiting to be thrown into waste products and chemicals, the resulting mess can degrade naturally without contaminating the soil.
Biodegradable fiberglass insulation is an excellent example. The materials can break down without releasing toxins into the Earth. The rest of the world has been using this method for years. Outside of the U.S., hemp is used in construction from everything from building foundations to insulation. The U.S. laws forbid the growth of industrial hemp, a low-THC cousin of marijuana, which is why this has not become our process.
3. Rammed Earth
“Rammed earth is an ancient construction technique similar to Adobe that uses raw materials from the Earth to form sturdy buildings through a simple process.” Rammed earth can be found in globally recognized structures such as the Great Wall of China, and today, the building process isn’t as different as you may think. Today, rammed brick is created with a moist mixture of earth and a few different hard substances such as clay or gravel. The materials are combined with a stabilizing element, like concrete, and compressed to form hard and dense walls.
The density of rammed earth makes it an ideal material for regulating the temperature of a building, similar to green insulation. It will stay cool during the summer months, and warm in the winter. Most importantly, the construction of rammed earth produces fewer emissions than the typical building process.
So what are you waiting for, let’s make the earth a better place! One way or another, green construction is the way of the future. The three processes discussed are just a few of many, and the technology of today’s construction industry has made the process quicker and cheaper than ever before. In the fast paced construction culture, it helps to be ahead of the game, so it is time to lead the pack and join the early adopters who have already begun their transition into green building.