The UK construction industry’s productivity is worth more than £100 billion per annum. The sector also accounts for around 10% of the country’s GDP and employs more than 3 million people.
However, this industry also has a significant effect on the environment; nearly a third of all UK pollution incidents involve a construction project. It also generates almost 20% of the total waste. Furthermore, many buildings in the UK are wasteful in terms of energy and water usage.
As a result, the government adopted an assessment system called BREEAM to encourage the creation of sustainable and environmentally friendly buildings.
If you manage a construction company and want to enhance your brand and reputation, you should consider adopting a sustainable approach to your building projects.
Enhance your brand with sustainable and energy-efficient buildings
Your objective in building energy-efficient structures is to create environments that provide excellent indoor air quality and comfort with almost zero running costs. Whatever construction methods you utilise to achieve this goal, you need to make sure that they fulfil the following criteria:
- The wall, floor and roof should provide optimum thermal performance.
- Appropriate insulation should optimise the thermal efficiency of the building’s interior.
- Every controlled environment should be airtight.
- The building’s air quality and moisture should be well-managed.
- The windows and doors should play a crucial role in maintaining the air and thermal quality of the building.
- Provisions must be made for ventilation and heat recovery.
- Only sustainable paints, plasters and other finishes should be used. In addition, they should not pose a health threat to the building’s occupants.
- On-site renewables, sewage treatment and water management should be incorporated.
If you are planning a new build, or are refurbishing or upgrading an existing structure, you should take the time to consider the project’s sustainability by:
- Incorporating it in the design
- Choosing suitable construction materials
Integrating sustainability at an early stage can help insulate you from rising energy and utility costs while at the same time providing a durable building.
So, how can you ensure your building project is green? The Encon Associates BREEAM assessment page can help you calculate your sustainability rating target.
Use sustainable construction materials whenever possible
There are hundreds of sustainable construction products and materials available on the market today. Installing them in your building can help ensure it is more energy-efficient and consumes less power. Some of these materials include the following:
1. Green roofing
It is now possible to grow grass, plants and flowers on a building’s roof. This type of roofing allows for the absorption of rainwater into the soil. It can significantly reduce your heating and cooling bills. Furthermore, green roofing will also help improve the air quality.
Most roof underlay is asphalt-based. Although these types of materials often break down and require frequent repairs, as the underlay will keep moisture out of the building’s interior you don’t have much choice.
A green alternative is to use synthetics as they weigh less and are more durable than asphalt-based underlay. A synthetic roof underlay uses a type of polymer made of recycled materials. In addition, it removes the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the underlay.
2. Glass doors and windows
Glass windows often maximise the natural light but they can do so much more. Smart or electrochromic glass can alternate between transparent and opaque as it reacts to external stimuli such as electrical currents or ultraviolet (UV) rays. There is also no need to use shades or other window treatments.
Since the windows and doors are an integral part of all buildings, you should consider making use of materials such as timber frames and triple glazing. An energy-efficient window should be able to capture the sun’s heat. The captured solar energy can then heat the building’s interior in combination with other heat-capturing materials.
Solar thermal cladding can hold heat in your building, especially during the winter months. The technology stores the sun’s energy within the cladding material as it passes through the building. This results in the retention of heat inside.
There are some materials that absorb the sun’s heat and other heat sources during the day and release it once the temperature outside drops. Bricks, concrete and masonry often create a ‘thermal mass’ inside a building, thereby providing a pleasant temperature for the occupants. If used correctly, building materials with natural insulation properties can reduce a building’s energy consumption.
You can enhance your builder brand through accredited building rating systems such as BREEAM. One of the requirements involves ensuring your buildings are sustainable and environmentally friendly. You will also need to make sure they make maximum use of natural light. In addition, in order to promote energy efficiency, your projects must utilise materials that have suitable thermal properties.