Choosing sustainable building materials for your construction project requires careful thinking. However, it's vital to consider the bigger picture since materials are just a single piece of the sustainability puzzle. You must consider numerous other factors, including energy efficiency, environmental impact, water usage, performance, etc. Selecting the ideal building materials is no longer solely dependent on structural efficiency. Consider balancing various factors to make a sustainable choice, including:
Any construction project relies on proper design and planning. However, sustainability relies on efficient design and specification of materials to help minimise the demand for construction materials. Consequently, this lowers the environmental impact since it will promote the preservation of natural resources.
On top of complying with the required structural performance criteria, like strength and deflection, choose building materials that demand little maintenance. Besides, opt for versatile materials that can adapt to future changes. In turn, this will considerably minimise the materials' environmental impact in the course of their service life.
Recyclable and Reusable
Opting for recyclable and reusable materials is another excellent way to choose sustainable building materials. You can utilise materials that have stood the test of time by recycling and reusing them in your construction. For instance, refurbishing an old wooden door is not only a prudent choice but is a more sustainable one and can help enhance the project's aesthetic appeal.
On the contrary, buying newer doors can increase the depletion of natural resources, consume more energy and raise environmental pollution levels. Therefore, if you're thinking of purchasing new building materials, select those you can refurbish and reuse in the future.
Choosing sustainable building materials also requires considering the material's chain of custody and the environmental credentials of the manufacturers or suppliers. For example, the material supplier requires timber certifications proving that they have selected the materials from legal sources under responsible management. Therefore, check for green building certifications, including ISO 14024 multi-attribute and ISO 14025 comprehensive disclosure for sustainable building materials.
End of Life or Deconstruction
Often associated with the design phase, end of life or deconstruction always comes as an afterthought or is sometimes even ignored. However, the end of life management of materials can significantly affect the overall structural impact. Therefore, determine whether you can reuse the building material in its natural form and repurpose or recycle it to reduce waste and material ending up in landfills. Regarding a material's end of life, demolition and disposal, consider using BIM (Building Information Modelling).
Keep these four critical considerations in mind when choosing sustainable building materials for your next construction project.