Environmental degradation is a sensitive topic that affects all sectors of society. While many turn a blind eye to how business and daily practices affect the environment, many companies are slowly coming up with better solutions to save our natural resources. The construction industry has a significant impact on the environment. As such, shifting to eco-friendly practices by discovering sustainable materials is a possible solution.
Sustainability, however, can have different meanings. For some, a material that is sustainable is one that can be found locally or will not require extensive transporting. This way, construction companies can save on fuel costs and reduce carbon emissions. Another definition of sustainability is by determining how much energy is consumed to produce or manufacture a particular material. Lastly, another concept of sustainability in the construction industry is selecting materials that are suitable for the natural climate where the structure is to be built. Regardless of how you define sustainability, the most critical aspect is that there is a positive impact on the environment by adopting or using a particular material.
Reclaimed metal and recycled wood
Wood is a sustainable material depending on the source of the timber used in production. To minimise the impact on the environment, companies producing constructions materials such as structural insulated panel (SIP) options, like SIPs Eco Panels and other SIP UK manufacturers, use recycled wood products in making structural insulated panels, among other things.
Metals require a significant amount of energy to produce. Mining the ore, refining, shaping, and transporting the final product use up a large number of natural resources. Hence, recycling and reclaiming metals is a sustainable practice.
Many countries around the world recognise the viability of bamboo as a sustainable and eco-friendly resource. Bamboo regenerates quickly which means there is no need to replant after every harvest. Bamboo is lightweight, yet has exceptional strength and durability. Many companies are already experimenting in using bamboo as the material of choice for building cabinets, furniture, and other consumer products.
Pre-cast concrete slabs
Concrete is a cost-effective construction material that is also sustainable. Instead of pouring concrete on site, construction companies are starting to favour pre-cast slabs of concrete cured at a factory. Curing concrete in a controlled facility minimises cracks and breaking, hence improving its structural integrity.
Insulation from sheep’s wool
Conventional insulation materials typically include foam and fibreglass. However, these popular materials are synthetic and not renewable. Hence, some companies are exploring the option of using natural materials like sheep’s wool to insulate structures. Wool also regenerates quickly and does not degrade as fast as other natural materials like straw. One challenge with sheep’s wool is that it is a more expensive material to source.
Similar to wood, cork is harvested from tree bark that regenerates quickly. Some desirable characteristics of cork are its flexibility and resilience to pressure. These characteristics make cork an ideal material for making floor tiles. Cork is also perfect as insulation and sub-flooring. Cork is not susceptible to water damage or rotting, but will eventually become brittle. Another factor that affects the sustainability of cork is that the raw material is not readily available and requires shipping.