In today’s modern cities, concrete buildings are not only prevalent, they are practically the stuff that holds our cities together. But we have come to understand that while it may be a seemingly practical building material and cheap to use, it has its cost. The production of all that concrete releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. This contributes to our current climate change acceleration and so we need to find new ways to build bigger and better cities. The reality is, we have the solution right now.
From using new materials to build totally green homes to utilizing such cutting edge green technology as custom rotational molding in CAD cut materials we can make a difference. The problem continues to be that, as with most industries, the building industry has a certain amount of inertia when it comes to choices. But it is making choices and taking strides to shift to a greener and more planet-friendly business. Here are just a few ways that the construction industry is currently moving towards a greener business model.
Less Waste with Technology
One of the ways that many of the larger building companies are getting green is by cutting waste. There is always enormous waste when it comes to building, and most of that waste ends up in city landfills. By utilizing CAD technology to create materials with minimal cut waste these businesses are doing their part.
In addition, many companies are bringing in third party green businesses to handle the waste disposal so it does not end up in landfills. Waste to energy plants are going up in many municipalities that allow waste wood and other flammable material from construction sites to be converted into energy for the surrounding city. By cutting down on waste in the design stage and using what waste is created in the building stage to create a local energy source, construction can go from a brown industry to a green one quickly.
Innovations in Building Materials
While concrete may be cheap and easy to use, it has a big footprint of waste and damaging gasses. In the housing sector, there has been a movement towards a more sustainable type of housing material and away from concrete as a basis for housing. Single family homes have more options, from haybale construction in the Southwest to bamboo and hempcrete in many parts of the country.
In addition, recycled material such as recycled plastics for industrial building as well as ferroc which is a new recycled building material using steel dust to create a green form of concrete, are appearing in larger projects. Wood is making a comeback as a green renewable building material, with wooden skyscrapers being designed and built around the world.
Green Energy Emerges
In addition to green materials and building techniques, designing buildings that utilize green sources of energy are also on the rise. Cities are finding ways to use the thermal heat produced by glass towers to heat the neighboring building, reducing the need for heat produced with fossil fuels.
Thermal energy from below the buildings is being studied for city wide distribution in some urban centers and solar panels have come down in price and up in popularity since their introduction decades ago. Between these new green energy sources and the new green building techniques, our cities have hope for a greener, and less concrete, future.