Building a greener future: why sustainable construction is every developer’s business

As the necessity for energy conservation builds momentum in the UK, efforts towards sustainable construction have become more important than ever.

In a report published by the World Green Building Council, it’s said the “building and construction industry is responsible for 39 percent of global carbon emissions, with energy used to heat, cool and light buildings accounting for a further 28 percent”.

And while the issue of sustainability is a national one, these figures provide a clear indication more needs to be done in the construction industry for the UK to meet net-zero targets by 2050.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the current state of sustainable construction and what we can do to further decarbonise the building industry.

What is sustainable construction?

Definitions of ‘sustainable construction’ will vary and continue to evolve as new technologies and materials are developed within the industry.

According to the British Assessment Bureau: “sustainable construction means using renewable and recyclable materials when building new structures, as well as reducing energy consumption and waste”.

More widely, it could be said ‘sustainable construction’ is not only about building with low-carbon materials and technologies, but has much to do with promoting greener living through planet-friendly, low-energy living environments.

Why is sustainable construction important?

Aside from the reliance on fossil fuels to operate heavy technology, machinery and vehicles, the construction industry also leans heavily on mining and manufacturing carbon-rich materials.

In fact, the increased production of concrete has resulted in over 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2 in the past year, a figure that will continue to rise in line with increasing global demand.

It’s also the case that using carbon-heavy materials often results in hazardous waste that, if not disposed of through the correct procedures, can further pollute surrounding areas.

What are the benefits of sustainable construction?

Environmental protection

As well as becoming a growing priority for new-home buyers, sustainable construction provides greener homes with well-insulated walls, pre-installed solar panels and many other features.

Cost reduction

Sustainable construction also aims to lower the power required to operate homes, meaning you can enjoy lower energy and water bills from one month to the next.

Buildings are worth more

According to the World Green Building Council, green buildings – whether new or old – command a 7% increase in asset value over traditional buildings.

How to make construction sustainable

Although there’s still a way to go before the construction industry is fully sustainable, there have been huge strides in reducing carbon emissions through advanced technology and power alternatives, including:

Renewable on-site energy with modular battery systems is fully rechargeable via built-in solar panels. These batteries can power electric tools, security equipment and compatible site vehicles.

Sustainable construction materials including wood supplied from properly managed forests, sustainable concrete and recyclable materials such as plastic.

In our recent four-house development at Dawson Drive, we used a range of sustainable and high-performance materials, such as:

  • 150mm fully fitted cavity insulation with high levels of thermal resistance
  • 100% low-energy lighting throughout each property
  • Environmentally friendly woodburning stoves
  • Underfloor heating (typically 15-20% more efficient than traditional heating methods)
  • Greenwood Unity CV2 Mechanical Extract Ventilation for cleaner and healthier air quality

How to reduce carbon emissions in older buildings

Typically, traditional buildings will be more power-intensive due to less-efficient materials. To improve energy ratings and lower carbon emission, you could consider:

  1. Upgrading insulation fabrics to walls, loft and ceilings
  2. Replace single-pane glazing with double or triple glazing
  3. Install draught-proof external and internal doors
  4. Fit an insulation jacket to your hot water cylinder
  5. Use alternative sources of energy, such as solar

If you need any other tips on how to improve the energy rating of your property, we’d be glad to help.

How do Blackthorn Homes achieve a sustainable construction practice?

With all of our developments, we like to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. As well as being members of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, we also carry out extensive environment procedures for all our sites, including:

  • Environmental, ecological and biodiversity impact assessments and studies
  • Site-specific environmental and waste management policies are in place
  • Careful ordering and control of materials on-site to minimise wastage
  • High degree of recycling and reusing of material with reduction of plastic and packaging

If you have any questions about sustainable construction or want to talk to our team about our developments, please complete our online form or call us on 01883 745033.

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