With the world changing at a fast rate, sustainability is at most priority for any activities, assuring that it is sufficient, cost-effective, healthy for the environment without sacrificing its quality, and will benefit the generations to come. This includes sustainability in the construction industry – with the sector consuming most of the natural resources for building infrastructures, such as wood, concrete, metal, and other elements, it has disrupted the ecological balance we tend to have. But it is never too late! With the rise of sustainability agendas in construction, more and more have converted themselves to create more sustainable and eco-friendly infrastructure, creating green buildings.
Green building supports sustainable planning and construction. It is the practice of building structures emphasizing making the process resource-efficient and environmentally responsible. This includes the process of designing, construction, maintenance, and even homebuilding, both interior and exterior. Supporting this agenda helps reduce the structure’s overall influence on the environment. Here are some green products that can be used in construction projects in the country.
10 Most Sustainable and Green Building Products Used for Construction Projects in the Philippines
Harvesting wood from trees takes a lot of time, not to mention costly. With 25-50 years waiting to consume an adult tree, the bamboo plant is the best alternative to provide quality material, the same as the former. Considered one of the most eco-friendly building materials, this member of the grass family is fast growing and consumes few resources to produce, taking only three years to harvest fully. It spreads and grows without needing to be replanted after cultivation.
It is lightweight and abundant and has a comprehensive strength compared to other construction materials like concrete and brick. The growing popularity of bamboo in the industry has helped and will continue to help forests regenerate. This material is a perfect alternative for floorings, tiles, countertops, and outdoor and indoor paneling adding warm aesthetics to the structure’s design.
Composite Roofing Shingles
Shingle roofings often support houses using asphalt and wood. Still, these materials are costly, hard to maintain, and manage, not to mention very susceptible to changes in climate and molds. This is where composite or artificial comes in. They are made with recycled materials such as paper products and fiberglass, making them weather friendly and not easy to corrode. It is fire-resistant and robust against moisture and mold growth. It is also lighter than traditional roofing, which is easier to install. To add to the incentives, it is low maintenance and can be replaced in the next 30-50 years of its lifetime; an average asphalt shingle lasts only 15-20 years with good maintenance at hand.
Harvesting metals in the mines and transforming them into steel and other construction materials are costly because of the energy needed to produce them from mining, heating, shaping, and transporting, making it damaging to the environment. Sustainable constructions offer a more eco-friendly alternative. Reclaimed or recycled materials are long-lasting items that need not be replaced. Remelted materials from scrap constructions, plumbing, components, and debris from manufacturing products are more helpful to the environment. Melted metal has the same characteristics as the pre-mined resources, such as strength, stability, and structural support, with the benefit of consuming 75% less energy in making one.
Woods are time-consuming and hard to harvest; with the rise of deforestation, the construction industry is finding other sustainable alternatives to combat the demand for these materials. Various sustainable wood efforts are made to make this product more eco-friendly and be used the same as the original.
Reclaimed or recycled woods work the same as the former. It can be used for construction, structural strengthening, flooring, and even support on the roof. Other than these, their design and strength are often used in floorings, paneling in the home, or outdoor foyer to add characteristics to the plan.
Another alternative is acetylated wood; Accoya offers eco-friendly structure building materials with wood treated chemically that is not harmful to the environment with the benefits of mold and rotting-resistant resources. This Accoya wood also improves thermal reduction, has the same strength as heavier wood such as oak, and has a longer life span. It is the same with laminated timber, a practice that glues smaller pieces of recycled wood to create a new one parallel to the original. These types of treatment and techniques help to make wood more sustainable for the environment.
Cork is another contender in alternative wood material, just like bamboo. It is fast growing and has the added benefit of being able to be harvested without planting another one making it more sustainable and easy to produce. This material is flexible and resistant to water and rots, making it impenetrable; it is best to use in paneling at home, insulation, and flooring because of its shock absorption qualities. It is also fire-resistant.
This material is increasingly used for building exterior cladding because it is fire resistant, resists abrasion, reduces sound pressure, and creates an earthy and natural aesthetic. But take note, although it has the same function as bamboo and wood, cork is more brittle than the other, not to mention it is not available in every country; regardless of its lightweight characteristics, it takes less energy for transportation.
For cooler climates, insulation is highly needed to stop the cold from penetrating the home during winter. Insulation foams are chemically treated materials that cause harmful environmental effects, not to mention costly. A better alternative is from farming materials called straw bales. It mimicked insulation properties well and came from farming scraps; it is innovative, sustainable, and cheap. It contributes to building energy ratings by trapping excess heat in the winter and keeping it out in the summer. This reduces the need for energy-intensive forms of temperature control, such as air conditioning, and lowers electricity bills.
Straw can be easily harvested and replanted with little environmental impact. They are made from the waste of the agricultural industry. It is sourced from grass, making it a renewable and easily harvested building material. Low cost, high thermal insulation, moisture resistance, and safety. It can also be used for sound insulation in the house, a better alternative to polyurethane which is non-eco-friendly to produce.
Plastics contribute the largest to pollution in water, and it takes the longest to decompose; this includes everyday items like plastic bags and bottles that take almost a century to degrade. To strive and live in a sustainable environment, with the significant demand and large turnouts of these materials, the best way to reuse them is to recycle them for green construction.
Recycling companies for materials such as brick alternatives or insulation conserve 95% of energy compared to other traditional materials. Recycled plastic is a strong, long-lasting material that is excellent at sound absorption. In the long run, creating this green circle with what we already have will significantly reduce waste.
Recycled plastic can be used as furniture, such as tables and chairs – it has the same qualities and uses by blending with other materials for durability and added structure. Piping, roofing, flooring, and paneling on the house can also put recycled plastic to good use. Lastly, the most innovative product from this process is recycled plastic bricks made comparable to concrete—heat resistant, low-labor, cost-effective, durable, and lightweight. Environmental ease of using plastic bricks includes lower landfill waste, lower carbon emission, and water saving in construction.
Precast Concrete Slabs
Who would have thought that a factory-made material is more environmentally sustainable? Another needed building material in constructing buildings is bricks, but a greener option has a good alternative, like precast concrete slabs. It is incredibly durable and can fight different weather conditions to protect the inside of the house, not to mention affordable to produce. The slabs require less energy to produce and assemble than many conventional concrete types. It also helps control heat more effectively, saving more electricity in the long run.
A lightweight filler, such as foam insulation, is usually sandwiched between the surface layer. Construction of the material takes place in a factory, which reduces the likelihood of cracks and structural faults forming in the concrete. It is poured into pre-made molds and cured. After it hardens, it can be shipped and installed in various structures. This ease in construction reduces not only the cost but also the carbon footprint.
What do the Martorell Plant in Spain, Sun-Moon Mansion in China, Phipps’ Center For Sustainable Landscapes, and Museum of Tomorrow in Brazil have in common? They are trailblazers in combining sustainability in large architectural designs. These magnificent buildings are equipped with sustainable energy used to supply the insides. Solar panels have been used to conserve energy, but with large structures such as high-rise towers and hotels, a lot of power needs to be used and produced to maintain its glory. But with the advancement of technology and the innovation to make solar panels more usable for infrastructure design, the construction industry is becoming more sustainable.
Other uses of solar panels in construction involve reducing electrical energy and even storing extra energy to keep the maintenance sustainable for the structure.
Last on the list is Rammed Earth. The earliest civilizations used the soil and dirt of the earth to make a liveable home; although it diminished in the present, it made a comeback for more sustainable homemaking and infrastructure. It is a popular and cost-effective method of constructing solid foundations, floors, and walls by compacting natural materials such as stone, soil, or rocks.
This compacting of multiple minerals in the soil helps build sustainable concrete comparable to the traditionally used. It is suitable for insulation, and rammed walls and floors warm the inside in cooler evenings. The technology used by our ancestors is still viable and usable to make living sustainable. Not only does rammed earth help the environment, but the pleasing visual it presents could also be added to the aesthetic of the infrastructure for depth and design.
As climate change and environmental tremors strengthen, we as a community need to fight it by changing how we resource the earth. Building green saves tons of energy, making out lives more sustainable. Keeping energy helps us reduce our carbon footprint and gives future generations a chance to have a better tomorrow.
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