Delivering Long-Term Benefits by Building Better
In our previous article, we examined the 7 principles of sustainable construction. However, the benefits of this approach to construction are not always immediately apparent. Sustainability delivers benefits over the long term, and it is easy to lose sight of this when we are so focused on short-term costs and profits.
In this article, we outline 10 benefits of sustainable construction, which will help us all to understand the full potential of this strategic approach.
Environmental benefits of sustainable construction
The construction of buildings is one of the most resource-intensive industries in the world. However, with sustainable construction, we can reduce this environmental impact. We can benefit from reduced energy consumption, cleaner air and water, and a decreased carbon footprint in all buildings, including public housing. The environmental benefits of sustainable construction include:
A reduction in the production of waste materials, during construction and throughout the lifetime of the building
More efficient use of building materials, and lower pollution when those materials are sourced locally
The reduction of wasted energy and water when the building is in use
There are many examples of how we can access the environmental benefits of sustainable construction. For example, green roofs are a wonderful way to provide insulation from the sun during hot summers and to improve a building’s use of water, by capturing rainwater and recycling it for use.
Economic benefits of sustainable construction
Gone are the days when building green was expensive. Innovative technologies and building materials mean that we can see economic benefits from day one of construction, and throughout the lifetime of the building. These include:
Reduced construction costs from lower use of resources, such as water and energy
Improved productivity delivered from more efficient building methods
Lower repair and maintenance costs throughout the building’s lifetime
Lower lifetime costs because of reductions in the use of energy and water
Social benefits of sustainable construction
The benefits of sustainable construction are not just environmental and economic. The materials used to construct these buildings do not produce as many harmful chemicals or toxins. Sustainable construction also provides more natural light and ventilation, which can help reduce stress for residents. Sustainable buildings are more resilient to natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, too. And when we involve the community in the process of design, we help to create places where people want to live, work, and play – resilient communities. In summary, social benefits include:
Improving the quality of life and health
Homes and social spaces where people want to live, work, and play, create a greater sense of community and pride in the built environment
Economic growth of communities and neighborhoods
The bottom line of sustainable construction
As the cost of green building has reduced, the benefits of sustainable construction are becoming more apparent. For example, it can reduce pollution and improve air quality, which will lead to better health and an improved environment. It can also create jobs by increasing demand for skilled labor and generating new opportunities for businesses in the long term.
Construction is a major polluter and contributor to waste in our society. Lighting and heating buildings are highly energy-consumptive. Sustainable strategies reduce both these products of construction and building use.
From a social perspective, we spend a substantial portion of each day in our buildings, whether at home, at work, or during recreation time. Our surroundings ─ the temperature, air quality, and noise level ─ have a direct impact on our ability to interact with others and our mental and physical health and well-being.
When we design buildings to be sustainable, we should consider all these factors, as well as the cost to construct and the impact our measures will have on the costs of ownership, residency, operation, and maintenance of the building throughout its expected lifetime.
It’s time to move away from the primary concern of the cost of construction, and design and build for the minimization of costs of construction and lifetime costs as a package.
At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed and created. To leverage our experience in sustainable design and construction, contact ACB Consulting.