Sustainable architecture and construction is gaining momentum in the industry. Sustainability looks to protect the natural environment while driving innovation that doesn’t compromise the way of life, but rather creates a more efficient lifestyle.
Sustainability is a process. The basic objectives of sustainability are to reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, minimize waste, and create healthy, productive environments. A sustainable, or green, building minimizes the use of water, raw materials, energy, and land while reducing emissions, waste, and pollution. It challenges engineers, architects, contractors, designers, etc. to evaluate the full life-cycle of products. All points of the goods must be evaluated in full from the beginning with the point of extraction of the raw materials from the earth, into processing of the materials, manufacturing and fabrication, consumer use, and finally end-use and disposal.
Some of the current resources that are trending in sustainable construction include:
– Recycled steel: Simplifying the framing process with customized steel beams rather than wood beams for support; steel beams are durable in high winds and earthquakes
– Plant-based polyurethane rigid foam: Foam manufactured from bamboo, hemp, kelp, and other similar plant materials; often used as an insulator, the foam is resistant to high moisture and heat.
– Recycled plastic composite lumber: 50/50 combination of waste plastics and wood fibers is more durable and less toxic than conventionally treated lumber
– Reclaimed wood: Preserved wood from old structures transformed into tables, flooring, accent walls, etc.
– Low–emissivity windows: developed to reflect UV and infrared light and minimizing it from passing through the glass.