Green Building Principles in Construction

Green buildings were first heard of between the 70s and 80s when there was a rise in oil prices. These “earth ships”, as they called them were implemented by using old tires filled with dirt to make the walls of the building. Though these experiments were a result of the hippie culture and some unfamiliar technology, eventually it helped us to understand the concept of energy efficiency, conservation and efficient use of natural resources.

 The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them. – Paul Hawken

The green construction industry is a growing field which is here to stay for a very long time. Taking out time to actually understand the concept of sustainable architecture can save a lot of time and thus, money.  Both the builder and the beneficiary should have a reasonable understanding of the appropriate technology behind green building. A famous man once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Truer words haven’t been spoken.

Here are the principles behind eco-friendly construction.


 Design adds more value than it costs

Experts suggest that size is the deciding factor while building a sustainable home. A house should be built to serve your needs, nothing more or less. Research further shows that sticking to simple shapes is the best way to go. According to them, each building loses a certain amount of energy because the ratio of the exterior surface is proportional to the volume. To put it plainly, a simple shaped building radiates lesser heat into its surroundings.'



The future is Green

The durability of a building is a sure way to determine whether it is green or not. A house that has to be demolished within a few years is not sustainable. A building that causes loss of groundwater or requires external resources to be demolished is definitely not eco-friendly.

But how do you measure the durability of a house?

A simple way to measure this is by checking the moisture control of the building. The fastest way a building starts to decay is caused by water. Uncontrolled water causes the paint to peel off the walls, rotting in difficult places and mould. Architects should be aware of this. A major disadvantage with tightly built houses is that they don’t dry quickly if the roof or walls get wet.  This is the ideal place for mould to grow. A mistake in design that ends up channelling water from the outside into the building is unacceptable.

Another way to check for longevity is to build according to the climate of the location. For example, placing a vapour barrier in a colder climate is a smart decision, because it will help prevent the formation of cavities. Attention to detail is very necessary to prevent mishaps that may result at the end of the life of a building.


Energy Efficiency

The use of alternative energy is inevitable

It is needless to say that the idea behind building green is to use resources efficiently. From a green perspective, insulation is perhaps the first step to take towards achieving high energy efficiency. Air sealing is usually overlooked.  Having said that, air leaks within the building defeats the whole purpose of insulation.  Extra attention has to be given to ensure there are no gaps for air infiltration.   

Most times, builders only look at smaller places where insulation may not be potent such as wires and pipes but it is crucial to check larger places as well.  Air gaps can occur behind showers, bathtubs, soffits placed around the infrastructure, etc. These must be sealed using air barriers like plywood, drywall, etc.


Reduction of Waste

Reducing your wastes will reduce your business costs

The simplest way to stay sustainable is by reducing the amount of material that goes to waste. This automatically promotes the quality of construction. There are many ways to do this.  Something as easy as getting your plumber to coordinate with your house framer can save a lot of material.

Recycling used material is also one way to reduce wastage of material. Scraps of metal and cardboard can be recycled.


Quality of indoor air

Quality of indoor air

Good ventilation and natural lighting inside the house is a sign of an eco-friendly environment. You can approach an HVAC contractor to calculate the ventilation rate of your house using appropriate equipment. Something else to look out for is indoor air pollutants.  These are volatile organic compounds from paints and vehicles, carbon monoxide from an improperly vented fuel-burning device, formaldehyde from carpets and particle boards and even an excessive amount of moisture.


Using Green products

Small changes eventually add up to big results

Using materials that dampen the harmful effect on the environment is equivalent to using green products. A simple swap from a previously used product to something that is more environmental-friendly encourages the “green way of life.”

For example, bamboo can be used as a substitute for wooden flooring since bamboo is easily regenerated and has a lesser impact on the environment. An example while constructing would be to use fly ash, a concrete made out of waste from coal-burning products. It can be used as a semi-substitute for Portland cement in construction.


Conserving water

Every drop counts

Water is a resource of immeasurable value and shortage of it will ultimately lead to a hindrance in development. The groundwater in an area decides whether a structure is going to be built in that location. Many problems arise when the groundwater table is disturbed and the direct result of that is an impact on the environment. Innovative water management has to be done to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Please check out:

Green Construction: The sustainability of our Future