Being eco-friendly isn’t merely a matter of attitude or beliefs. If we want to continue living on this planet, it’s our obligation, a necessity, which is why we should approach every issue with an environmentally-friendly mindset. It’s for this reason people are continuously searching for new ways to make sustainability an integral part of building design. In case this is something you’re interested in, but don’t know how to do it, here are some excellent ideas to get you started.
In order to be more eco-friendly, modern architecture should aim for a reduction in materials used for building. This means several things. First, if the number of materials used to build something is smaller, then fewer suppliers will have to be involved, there won’t be as much need for production and transportation of goods and that will reduce the impact all of this has on the environment. Similarly, it’s better to use smaller amounts of a single material or to choose materials that come in more compact packaging or that weigh less, to avoid extra cost and extra ecological damage. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should save on materials to the point where the condition or durability of the final product is significantly affected, but if you can find the right balance between the quality of the product and the amount and number of materials used to create it, you’ll know you’re doing your best for the planet.
While the traditional use of earth brick, wood and concrete is still very much present and even preferred in present-day construction, it’s important to know that, in order to produce them, trees are being cut and resources are being mined, constantly damaging the ecosystem. However, modern design and construction are beginning to rely more on other processes and materials in an effort to preserve the environment. These greener materials aren’t that hard to acquire and are sometimes even cheaper than the standard ones, and some of them have proven to be sturdy and long-lasting, meaning that they’re a phenomenal alternative to the non-renewable ones. Some excellent examples are bamboo and reclaimed wood, but some designers, builders and architects are even turning to straw bales, recycled plastic and cork for framing, fences and insulation, respectively.
Dealing with Waste
Whether during construction or after you’ve made a place your home, what you do with waste is important. Sorting it and recycling are a good start, as it’s a good way to lower your carbon footprint, but that’s not where you should stop. For instance, choosing products in biodegradable or at least recyclable packaging or refillable ones is something else you should do. Another easy way to make the best of the waste from your kitchen is letting it decompose, so that you get compost for your garden maintenance. However, even with your best efforts, it’s not that easy to dramatically lower the amount of trash you produce. Being efficient when it comes to waste disposal is vital, and if this is an issue you can’t tackle on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a reliable waste management consultant. This is especially important throughout construction or demolition processes, where there’s a lot of waste, and such experts will ensure that it’s disposed of meticulously, lawfully and with sustainability in mind.
Unfortunately, even today, people often use building products that can be considered toxic or whose production can create toxic byproducts. This is why it’s important to find healthier alternatives, as those won’t only have a more benign effect on the environment, but on our own well-being, too. After all, when we use products that cause air pollution, we are the ones who have to breathe that air, which is why we should be highly mindful of what materials are used when building our homes, schools and offices. Even though there still aren’t alternatives for treatment of some materials, phenomenal progress is being made in production of others. For instance, there is a decrease in use of vinyl flooring. Instead, people are choosing linoleum. Similarly, carpet-producing companies around the world are making an effort to eliminate or at least cut down on various harmful water- and stain-repellent chemicals. It’s also important to do your research before settling on a material. For example, sheep’s wool can be used as insulation, to avoid use of other materials, overtreated with chemicals. However, aside from it being more expensive, wool has to be treated with certain chemicals as well, so as to prevent fungi infestation or to repel insects. While some of these chemicals are harmless, others are not, which is why you should get the information you need before you invest in something you might regret afterwards.
Like many other things, this type of positive change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, but one that has already begun, which can make us more optimistic about the future. So, if you’re in a position to make design-related decisions, let them be environmentally-friendly ones.