For decades, the construction industry has moved forward without much consideration as to what its activities were doing to the environment. In recent years, the idea of preserving the environment and being conscious of resource consumption has affected every industry in the world. When experts sat back and examined what the construction industry was doing, it became immediately apparent to everyone that something had to be done to stop the environmental damage the construction industry was doing.
Recognizing A Lack Of Green Construction Practices
The construction industry has only recently become interested in recycling, which has helped to stem the tide of excessive resource consumption the industry has been guilty of for a long time. However, there are other ways the construction industry needs to be environmentally friendly if it wants to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
After water, concrete is the second most consumed substance on the planet. That means that there is a lot of concrete being created using a lot of water and burning a lot of energy. Traditional concrete also gives off heat when it absorbs sunlight, which means that cities get much hotter than rural areas and require more energy to cool off. Asphalt, which is also widely used in cities, adds, even more, heat that city dwellers have to fend off with energy-consuming air conditioners.
Cement is one of the primary ingredients in concrete, and the process of burning limestone to make cement is one of the largest single producers of CO2 in the world. It is estimated that the production of cement is responsible for around five percent of all of the CO2 emissions in the world, and that is a significant number.
A big part of green construction is utilizing recycled materials. Up until recently, many construction companies did not see a need to use recycled materials to finish their projects. But in recent years, recycled materials such as wood-based insulation have become prominent in the construction industry and are at the forefront of the new green construction movement.
The Problem With Concrete Production And The Environment
The biggest problem with concrete is that it is necessary for building cities and structures that can protect people and allow for civilization to advance. Unfortunately, it is also one of the least environmentally friendly construction materials around. Recent developments in the world of concrete are helping to not only make concrete a part of the green construction movement but also make concrete a platform for developing better construction development methods.
The production of cement is one of the biggest issues with concrete and it is the part that is doing most of the environmental damage. It is estimated that cement production creates nearly 80 percent of the environmental damage done by concrete, even though cement makes up only 10 percent of the finished concrete itself.
In order to make cement, limestone has to be heated to very high temperatures for a very long time. Most cement makers use coal or gasoline to make cement, and the emissions from cement production are very damaging to the environment. To help solve the problem, some cement makers are using alternative energy sources and finding materials other than cement to help make concrete.
One company called Calera has created a way to capture the CO2 emissions from standard cement production and use those emissions to make a new type of cement that absorbs CO2. While this method does rely on the manufacturing of standard cement, it does significantly reduce the amount of CO2 emissions in the air.
The efforts to control CO2 emissions from manufacturing concrete are showing positive signs. The new World Trade Center complex used cement and concrete manufacturing methods that reduce gasoline usage by 1.77 million gallons and relied on nearly 72 percent of non-concrete building products. That project has shown that the construction industry is taking its environmental impact seriously and that huge steps are being made towards reducing emissions.
Residential Construction Is Also An Environmental Concern
When you talk about green construction, it is important to bring up the changes being made in residential construction. In the United States, there were approximately 439 million new single-home building permits issued between January 2016 and July 2016. That is a significant amount of construction, and the residential construction industry is starting to understand its responsibility in utilizing green construction methods.
People fail to realize the significant amount of environmental damage traditional home construction was causing. Products such as insulation and paint use materials that are generally hazardous to humans and can cause a variety of medical problems. Construction methods that use a significant amount of gasoline are creating emissions that are harmful to the environment, and clearing away trees and other plants without any consideration to the environment is also an issue.
Perhaps the biggest environmental issue in residential construction is not using recycled materials. Residential construction product manufacturers are now offering products such as insulation, siding, roofing materials, and drywall that is made from recycled ingredients. By using recycled materials, residential construction manufacturers are reducing the waste that goes to landfills and using materials that are more environmentally friendly.
The Biggest Problems The Construction Industry Faces
When developing nations increase their construction activities, it generally increases environmental issues. China has seen a dramatic increase in its use of concrete, but China has yet to make preserving the environment a priority. Other developing nations are also escalating their use of concrete. However, many are not implementing the environmentally friendly production methods being created around the world.
Globally, the construction industry is often an important part of a nation’s economy. It is important for these environmentally friendly developments to continue to help offset the problems being caused. As construction increases around the world, the environmental impact the many aspects of construction creates is becoming more of a problem. The construction industry is very slow to adopt new ideas, and that slow pace is making it difficult for construction to keep up with the problems it is creating.
Moving Towards Environmentally Friendly Construction Materials
Construction materials and methods are already becoming more environmentally friendly, but some of those environmentally friendly methods can be expensive. In construction, the goal has always been to complete the project on time and under budget. When a construction company decides to use ways to reduce resource consumption or reduce emissions, it costs the company money. It is this lack of financial efficiency that causes many companies to continue to use the standard methods of construction that are damaging the environment.
Right now, construction companies are adopting environmentally friendly products and methods at a slow pace. The issue is that the environmental problems the construction industry are causing are escalating daily. It may take some strong new laws to force construction companies to start looking into more environmentally friendly methods and products. But there is no doubt that the construction industry will have to become more environmentally conscious if it is going to start becoming part of the solution instead of remaining part of the problem.
Construction products manufacturers are constantly developing better ways to build without damaging the environment. The hope by environmentalists around the world is that the use of those new products and methods will someday soon become a natural part of the way the construction industry around the world operates.