Published on November 22nd, 2012 | by Leon Harris2
The Evolution of Green Construction
The homes we live in create a huge carbon debt before the proud new owners ever cross the threshold. But even worse is the fact that they are built in such a way that they will continue to do harm once they are inhabited, thanks to inadequate insulation that leaves homeowners cranking the heat and AC, not to mention a complete lack of sustainable energy options. Luckily, there is a bright spot on the horizon, and it comes in the form of green construction.
The average construction site could be described as less than eco-friendly, to put it mildly. The materials used for such projects often include natural resources like wood and stone that are not harvested in a sustainable manner. Both logging and mining operations are notorious for damaging the environment through their efforts and doing very little to clean up afterwards. Further, these materials are frequently shipped all over the globe, creating massive amounts of pollution along every step of the way, not to mention the manufacturing processes, which produce even more pollution and waste.
And then, of course, there is the construction itself, which continues this assault on the environment. In short, the homes we live in create a huge carbon debt before the proud new owners ever cross the threshold. But even worse is the fact that they are built in such a way that they will continue to do harm once they are inhabited, thanks to inadequate insulation that leaves homeowners cranking the heat and AC, not to mention a complete lack of sustainable energy options. Luckily, there is a bright spot on the horizon, and it comes in the form of green construction.
Over the last several years, a rapidly growing awareness of serious environmental issues (pollution, deforestation, global warming, habitat loss, species extinction, etc.) has led the public to call for alternatives to the products and services they use on a daily basis. And since many consumers start in the home, the demand for green options on this front has grown considerably. In response, the construction industry has begun to realize a shift in practices, not as a whole, but at least in part, with companies springing up that provide eco-friendly options in the building process, with some even going so far as to observe LEED certification level standards.
For the average home-buyer, purchasing a 100% green and sustainable structure is not an imperative, but many people currently seeking property are looking for extras that will not only help them cut their carbon footprint, but also save them some money along the way. A handful of buyers are in the market for eminently eco-friendly options that feature entirely wood-free framing (instead using substitutes like insulated concrete forms, for example), recycled materials (including wood, stone, metal, etc.), organic products (like cotton-fiber insulation), or even extras like rooftop gardens to curb the urban heat-island effect. But most people are only just learning about eco-friendly options, and there is something of a curve to the process.
For this reason, some of the most popular additions to the green building slate of products and services include items that the general public is already well-acquainted with, such as alternative energy options (solar panels, wind turbines, and so on). Recycled materials, like slate roofing and reclaimed hardwood floors and cabinetry, are also becoming more popular. And native and drought-resistant landscaping is another option that eco-conscious homeowners seem to appreciate. When properties don’t come with these things included, some homeowners are even hiring green builders to provide rough terrain cranes and caterpillars that run on alternative fuel, as well as sustainable and locally-sourced materials in order to create more efficient and eco-friendly structures. But one thing is for sure: properties that come equipped for green living are a hot commodity, especially if they stand to save homeowners money on their utility bills, along with providing green peace of mind.