With building, maintaining, and occupying homes accounting for almost 50 percent of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions, sustainable construction and the use of sustainable construction materials both have important roles to play in the war on energy waste and environmentally unfriendly living. In fact, there are a whole host of reasons why using sustainable construction materials makes sense.
More than just the direct environmental benefits such as the ability to cut down on avoidable heat loss or the impact on the environment in the production and transport of certain types of traditional and environmentally unfriendly construction materials, there are also many economic benefits in heading down the green path. Sustainable Options provide 100% British recycled plastic products. Using waste plastics otherwise headed for landfill our Sustainable Options range turns waste into a resource sustainable building materials.
Construction impacts on the environment across the board. From the environmental expense of producing raw materials to their transportation to their inefficient deployment to their disposal it all adds up on a massive scale. With construction accounting responsible for 25-40% of total energy use, nearly a third of raw material use, 30-40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 30 to 40% of solid waste generation the size of the environmental challenges, as well as the opportunities for improvement are immense.
Considering the incredibly rapid speed at which many nations are developing and the explosion of the real term in the volumes of material used and waste produced this is clearly an issue that needs to be seriously addressed sooner rather than later. In the UK alone, for example, about 6 tonnes of material are used per person per year with 250-300 million tonnes of material quarried for aggregates, cement, and bricks. Roll out these sorts of figures globally and it’s not hard to see the enormous scale of the issues at hand.
As well as environmental benefits there are direct economic benefits in using sustainable construction materials. Recent studies by the UK Environment Agency for example show that a one-off investment of £800 could improve an existing home’s resource efficiency by as much as 25 percent with a consequent annual saving of approximately £138 a year in utility bills. Clearly, it wouldn’t take long to recoup your initial outlay and from year 7 you would start to enjoy real savings.
Not only do sustainable construction materials save you on your day-to-day energy bills they also add value to your home and make properties a more attractive proposition. Research shows clearly that buyers are prepared to pay more for a property that has a high-performance Energy Performance Certificate (EPCs are used to outline the costs of heating, hot water, and lighting in homes).
Whilst many claims that materials are “recyclable” or being recycled, in reality only a small fraction of them actually are. One of the great sustainable construction material successes has been that of plastic recycling. Plastic recycling has seen the introduction of lumber, roofing battens, sustainable recycled tongue & groove, sustainable recycled decking, and sustainable recycled fencing.
The housing market is in need of new builds over the coming years, at the moment there is a big supply and demand deficit in the market. Part of the government’s plans for the construction of a new home is that developers should now look at the sustainability of the materials they are using and how these homes can be more green than before.
Sustainable homes probably look a lot different than you may imagine. The ‘greenhouses of twenty years ago, a compost toilet and water butts saving rainwater for washing are a long distant memory. Many houses look exactly as you would imagine, like a normal house. In many cases, recycled plastic represents a triple win. Not only is it more cost-effective than traditional alternatives such as wood, concrete, and metal, it often outperforms them and of course is much better for the environment.