5 Surprisingly Attainable Sustainable Construction Options

7 December 2023Construction, SustainabilityBIM, Carbon, carbon footprint, concrete, energy conservation, Infrastructure, sustainable design, Water/Wastewater

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In this era of environmental consciousness, the construction industry is undergoing a transformative shift toward sustainable practices. From innovative pavement solutions to eco-friendly framing systems, here’s a look at cutting-edge sustainable construction options that are surprisingly attainable today.

sustainable construction, concrete building with green plants hanging under window openings

1: High-Performance Framing

Industrialized construction techniques are revolutionizing the building framing process. They can incorporate interactive 3D building information modeling (BIM) technology, nesting routines and high-performance timber bamboo and eucalyptus framing systems. Using fewer studs, posts and headers, these systems can reduce waste and increase productivity with fewer workers. The low-carbon footprint framing systems are being used in low-rise commercial and residential construction projects. In addition, these framing systems reduce the thermal bridging found in typical framing, resulting in a more energy-efficient building envelope.

sustainable construction, looking at the cut ends of sticks of green bamboo

Bamboo

2: Rammed Earth Architecture

In a Material Times article, another form of industrialized construction is described – using an age-old form of construction. Wall panels are prefabricated in a factory using tough, resilient rammed earth/clay. These panels are joined together at connecting grooves with fresh clay to form building walls. Proponents cite the advantage of locally available materials, sometimes the very soils that have been excavated for the building’s foundation. Notwithstanding strict construction regulations, the method has been suggested as one way to solve worldwide housing shortages.

sustainable construction, close-up photo of rammed-earth wall

Close-up photo of rammed-earth wall

3: Eco-Friendly Insulation

Insulation is a critical component in maintaining energy efficiency within buildings, and it is used ubiquitously throughout the world. Traditional materials like foam, mineral fibers and glass fibers have been widely used historically. However, research is underway to develop carbon-smart, bio-based alternatives. Industrial hemp and other natural fibers are emerging as promising options for insulation. Phase-change thermal storage materials are also being used. Such materials offer low-energy manufacturing processes and increased biodegradability after a building has reached its useful life. They pave the way for a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to insulation.

sustainable construction, hemp insulation material

Hemp insulation material

4: Concrete with Reduced Carbon Footprint

Concrete, a staple in building and infrastructure construction, has been criticized for the negative impact it has on the environment. However, the industry is making strides in reducing the carbon footprint of concrete. Producers are now utilizing local industrial byproducts and natural, “circular” materials in the concrete-making process. Materials like cellulose fibers (wood pulp) and reclaimed fly ash are being added to concrete mixes. According to NetZeroAccelerator.org, incorporating waste products as additives not only reduces the amount of cement needed but also enhances the compressive strength of the concrete.

Research continues on sustainable self-healing concrete. Studies on the incredibly durable concrete used by the ancient Romans have shown that pozzolanic (chemically reactive in the presence of water) volcanic ash was used in concrete across the Roman empire for construction. In addition, the use of “lime clasts” resulted in concrete that, if cracked, would heal itself through a chemical reaction as water penetrated the cracks and interacted with the lime clasts.

Sustainable construction graphic of concrete mixer with green grass texture and person standing in front of and leaning on it

These innovations toward sustainable concrete production demonstrate the industry’s commitment to minimizing environmental impact.

5: Porous Pavement for Water Conservation

One example of sustainable infrastructure construction is the use of porous pavement in highway projects. This revolutionary approach allows stormwater to be absorbed back into the ground, mitigating the strain on storm sewer systems and positively affecting groundwater recharge. Permeable concrete slabs installed along the curb facilitate the drainage of stormwater through the concrete and into the ground below. As reported by Construction Dive, this initiative marks a significant step toward greener infrastructure projects, with hopes that more cities will adopt porous pavement to replace traditional impervious surfaces.

 

The construction industry is actively embracing sustainable alternatives across various facets of the building process. From innovative pavement solutions that promote water conservation to eco-friendly concrete production, insulation materials, and framing systems, these advancements underscore a commitment to building greener and cleaner. As these sustainable practices become more mainstream, we can anticipate a positive impact on both the environment and the longevity of our built structures and infrastructure. The construction landscape is evolving, and the path to a sustainable future is being paved with eco-conscious choices.


Reimagine your business model with an ecosystem of experts and solutions that will deliver a sustainable transformation: Contact Graitec Group today to learn about the Digital Innovation Framework™.


 

 

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