Guest Post: Sticking with renewable - how to source environmentally friendly construction materials

Guest Post: Sticking with renewable - how to source environmentally friendly construction materials

Materials can have a massive effect on the environment. From the damage caused during extraction, to the carbon cost of transport, to materials from non-renewable sources.

Responsible sourcing is a method of acquiring your construction materials, which minimises environmental damage during all five stages of the product’s lifecycle: mining/harvesting, manufacture, construction, operation and demolition.

When it comes to sourcing environmentally friendly construction materials, there are a few key points to consider:

1) Location

Transporting bulky materials, such as stone or wood, can produce harmful emissions and can be extremely expensive. To reduce environmental impacts, as well as costs, materials should be sourced locally wherever possible.

2) Recycled or secondary materials

Can you use recycled materials for the job? Using recycled materials minimises or removes the energy cost of extracting and manufacturing materials.

Secondary materials are produced as a by-product of a manufacturing process. These are usually discarded. Using a secondary material reduces waste but is also more cost effective than sourcing new materials

3) Fast growing products

Woods such as bamboo grow extremely quickly. A bamboo tree can be harvested commercially in six years, compared to decades for other types of tree. Using materials like this means they can be rapidly regrown. A forest of bamboo can be replaced quickly, minimising environmental damage.

4) Lower volatile organic compounds

Air quality is a real issue for people working in enclosed environments. Hazardous materials emitted from building materials can cause long term health problems for employees. Naturally sourced green materials tend to emit less volatile compounds and as a result are better for the health of employees.

Making the decision to use more environmentally friendly construction materials can provide a range of benefits, not just to the environment, but also to the users of the buildings. Prices can be kept down and transport can be made easier.

Does anyone have anything else to add about the benefits of using friendly construction materials?

This peice was written by Mark Enright a writer for Enviko, the renewable energy experts.

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