Paul Geraedts

Why sustainable materials in construction are more important than ever

Bamboo structure being installed several days before the Smithsonian Folklife Festival opens. Designed by artist Danny Yung, collaborating with Choi Wing Kei.

Over the last years, using sustainable materials in construction has become more important than ever. Strict environmental laws and public opinion regarding the climate crisis often demand a more environmentally friendly approach. Luckily there are many benefits to using sustainable materials in construction and an even greater amount of different materials to choose from. 

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Why use sustainable materials in construction? 

So why would you take the extra effort in starting to use sustainable materials in construction? Well, besides the obvious environmental benefits, there are also considerable health benefits, financial benefits and social benefits to consider. Let’s look at some of the most important benefits of using sustainable construction materials. 

  1. Cost reduction

You might think that using sustainable materials in construction projects is going to drive up the costs considerably, but that’s far from the truth. Overall, a ‘green’ building costs less than a normal building because fewer resources (water, energy) are needed for the completion of the project. On top of that, a sustainable project has great Return on Investment, so the value of a property significantly increases when sustainable materials in construction are used. 

2. Better use of materials and waste minimization

In Europe, the construction industry is responsible for 34.7 percent of total waste generation. By using renewable and therefore sustainable materials in construction, waste will be reduced. Some materials are even made of demolition debris, sand or burnt coal. But sustainable building and waste minimization doesn’t stop there. Collecting and recycling (rain)water, generating green energy are options that can be used side-to-side with sustainable building materials.

3. Quality of life or a productive working environment

Another, less obvious advantage of green building and sustainable materials in construction is the benefits it has on the people using the building for work or living. Safer materials improve the overall health. Building and furnishing materials, such as paints, cleaning products and carpets, can be dangerous for human health. The use of sustainable materials can help with the purification of the air, while the better surroundings improve productivity. 

Some remarkable sustainable construction materials to consider

The market for green and sustainable building is growing a lot over the last few years, and new developments are quickly emerging. Some interesting solutions that are now gaining momentum are: 

  • Bamboo
    Unlike traditional wood, bamboo is considered a sustainable building material because it grows faster than it’s harvested. It’s a super strong, lightweight building material that has been used for centuries. Besides all those qualities: bamboo also looks pretty good! 
  • Hempcrete
    Hemp is a plant that has extremely sturdy fibers, and one of the newer uses for this versatile material is to make hempcrete: a mix of hemp hurds and lime and/or sand. This results in a lightweight, building material that cannot be used as a substitute for concrete (as it’s carrying capability isn’t that much), but rather as an alternative for traditional non-carrying wall materials. 

Natural insulation materials

In the world of sustainable materials in construction there’s also attention for the things we don’t see. Insulation is a huge part of any construction project and determines for a great deal the energy efficiency of the building. Luckily, there are some natural options to choose from. There is natural sheep wool, which is easily harvested and used. Then there is flax and hemp, which are natural plant fibers. Lastly, there is cellulose, a recycled material made from newsprint and other cellulose (paper) fibers. This material is especially loved by natural builders because it can be blown into cavity walls.

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An emerging, experimental market

Sustainable, green building is becoming more important than ever. Not only because of environmental laws and policies, also because clients and the people who use these buildings (tenants, employees) are demanding a more green approach in all sectors of the construction industry. That results in an interesting market where a lot of innovation is going on. 

Using online visualization techniques to communicate more efficiently and green!

But sustainability doesn’t only mean the use of green materials: it can be done in all possible sectors of the building industry. For example, you can decrease your environmental footprint by showing your 3D models online, instead of traveling to and from your clients multiple times. By using an online platform for your 3D models, such as Xuver, you also reduce the time it takes to make a decision on the building process as sharing your 3D model is as simple as sending your client a browser link, after which everyone walks around in it. 

Communicate and share your next sustainable building project with Xuver
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Using Xuver results in an overall smoother and quicker communication process between designer, client, construction company and anyone else who is involved in the building process, which makes your project just a little greener. 

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