As the planet’s population continues to grow and the environmental crisis reaches new dire levels, it’s time for us all to make a change. That includes the construction industry.

With new advances in technology and building materials, there are plenty of ways that we can be more sustainable and environmentally conscious about our building projects. That’s why, as structural engineers and chartered surveyors in Devon and Cornwall, we’ve taken a closer look at what the next few years hold for the construction industry and whether the use of sustainable building materials might just be the future.

Why Sustainability in the Construction Industry Matters

We should all care about our futures and the futures we help build for generations to come. This is why sustainability matters not just in daily life but on a grand scale too.

We are a part of the natural world and, as such, we are dependent on a huge array of natural resources in order to sustain our way of life. As the climate crisis continues to grow, we should be doing all we can to ensure the continued survival of our planet.

But sustainability goes beyond that of just nature; the sustainability of resources actively impacts the longevity of the economic viability of businesses as well as maintaining our relationship with the natural environment. If we are going to continue to maintain our way of life without compromising the lives of future generations, then being more sustainable is essential.

What is Green Building?

Being sustainable in construction means reducing the environmental impact caused by building and learning to adequately co-exist with our natural surroundings. This means being especially conscious of how our presence affects the surrounding landscape.

Modern buildings should all be built with sustainability in mind. There are a number of issues that sustainable building can help address, including, but not limited to:

  • Eradicating the housing crisis
  • Working to improve urban scrawl
  • Conserving water
  • Reducing energy consumption and pollution.

Countries across the world have recognised the need to prioritise sustainability and have even issued laws that require new builds to achieve zero emissions and passive construction. If we can work on creating a more sustainable world, then we can manage our ever-growing population while still maintaining Planet Earth’s longevity.

Building with Sustainable Materials

One of the simplest ways to reduce the environmental impact of the construction industry is through the use of sustainable building materials. There are a number of ways that this can be done, but we’ve chosen to focus on a few of the key players.

A bamboo building in a bamboo forest

Recycled Metals

The use of recycled metals is better for the environment and can actually prove to be cheaper than the use of newly produced metal.

An estimated 500 million tons of steel are recycled each year, and there’s no reason we can’t harness this asset. Steel is durable and able to withstand the weight of solar panels, which are another big contributor to more sustainable designs.

What’s more, there are several uses for both scrap metal and even metal shavings that can help contribute to a more sustainable future!

Sustainable Concrete

With its ease of production and almost unparalleled strength, it’s no wonder that concrete is the most popular building material on the planet. However, that doesn’t mean it’s good for our planet.

Not only does the production of concrete use a large amount of water, but it also contributes heavily to air pollution and further exploitation of natural resources.

That’s not to say that we think concrete should be ignored entirely. In fact, there are a number of sustainable ways that the construction industry can continue to use concrete while also working to combat its production. This includes:

  • Repurposing demolition debris into bricks
  • Using a concrete mix that includes soil and organic fibres
  • Using self-healing concrete containing bacteria that reacts with water and oxygen to fill in cracks
  • Using concrete mixed with herb fibres.

There are also a number of concrete alternatives that have begun circulating in the construction industry, including both timbercrete and ferrock.

Bamboo

Not only is bamboo a renewable resource, but some experts have also even claimed that it can be as strong as concrete! Bamboo is durable and malleable, making it an ideal building material for a variety of projects, including:

  • Wall panelling
  • Water-resistant flooring
  • Scaffolding to support the building process.

You can learn more about more sustainable building materials available in our blog.

Sustainable Design

There is more to a sustainable building than just construction. The design also plays a large part in how eco-friendly it is. That’s why it’s important that modern buildings are designed for optimum sustainability while also being conscious of the environment.

Biomimicry

One of the ways we can do this is biomimicry.

Biomimicry refers to when designers and structural engineers look to nature to inspire solutions. There are plenty of ways that biomimicry has been seen across the world to improve waterproofing, solar power and a more harmonious living with the natural world.

Plants in an urban area

Integrating the Natural World in Architectural Design

Places like floating parks and rooftop gardens have become more prevalent as urban areas fight to be more involved in tackling the environmental crisis. This integration of greenery into urban spaces is essential for increasing the sustainability of urban areas.

This shows that the aesthetic of a building does not have to be compromised for the sake of sustainable design. In fact, in many cases, the visuals of a building are improved when the natural world has been integrated in some way.

When designing a building, architects should begin to focus on the native landscape early on, such as looking at weather conditions and energy management. There are also plenty of ways that harnessing nature (such as through solar or wind power) can be incorporated into the design of a building which can prove invaluable in the future.

Now is just the beginning of a more sustainable future, and you can be a part of it as well.

If you’re starting a new construction project, our team at Martin Perry Associates can help! Our experienced chartered surveyors and structural engineers are on hand to help as you embark on your new construction venture.

Get in touch today and see what we can do for you.

contact our team today