POSTED Jun 08, 2022 - 02:49 PM
How to choose sustainable building materials for your business
When choosing materials for your building, it is always a good idea to think about sustainability and consider what these materials may do long-term
Are you planning to buy building materials for your offline business? What criteria do you use? Is cost your primary consideration?
When choosing materials, you will notice that the price differs widely from region to region. For instance, cement costs are lower in places where lime is abundant. It also varies based on many other factors including the location of the construction, square footage and design specifications of the interior layout, availability of the materials, and which country they will be shipped from, if overseas.
However, it is not always advisable to choose the cheapest materials mainly because in most cases, they are not durable. You would only end up replacing them frequently and wasting money in the process. Choose building materials that will serve you well for a long time, so it ends up being cost-efficient.
What else do you consider? The aesthetic value? What about easy installation to cut down on specialized labor and equipment costs? While these are valid factors when selecting materials for your project, there is one major thing you must consider—sourcing sustainably. But how do you know which building materials are sustainable?
Sustainable materials are products that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits while protecting public health and the environment over their whole life cycle—from the time that the raw materials are extracted from the earth to manufacturing, delivery, installation, and eventual disposal. These materials promote a more efficient use of resources such as money, labor, and other assets while minimizing waste and improving occupational health and safety management.
There was a time when handling resources simply meant the extraction of raw materials and their eventual use. All waste was thrown away. Now, businesses are urged to utilize waste and byproducts as much as possible. This trend is called “back to the factory” or “back to the earth.”
This is the same idea behind the “Cradle to Cradle” (C2C) concept, which has been advocated by Arch. William McDonough who was recognized by Time magazine as a “Hero for the Planet.”
McDonough, together with chemist Michael Braungart, came up with this methodology in 2002 when they were thinking of ways to design a building that would be of quality and would not make children sick or destroy the planet. They then popularized the term “cradle to cradle” in opposition to the “cradle to grave” (C2G) approach, a concept where materials usually end up in landfills.
According to McDonough, C2C is a methodology that allows both biological and technical nutrients to easily be reused or even returned to their origin. “Everything is a resource for something else. In nature, the ‘waste’ of one system becomes food for another. Everything can be designed to be disassembled and safely returned to the soil as biological nutrients, or re-utilized as high-quality materials for new products as technical nutrients without contamination,” he said.
Recyclability or reusability
The threat of climate change looms large. Changing global temperatures will inevitably have an effect on the environment and everyone has to be prepared for a future where water, food, and energy are scarce. One way you can lessen this burden is by being more conscious about using the planet’s resources.
Recycling construction waste is now being done by many construction companies. It consists of separation and recycling of recoverable waste materials generated during construction and renovation such as glass, metal, paper, cardboard, plastic, and appliances and fixtures. This process reduces the demand for new resources and cuts down on cost and effort of transportation and production, thus minimizing impact on the environment.
Many materials used to construct residential and commercial buildings in the Philippines are manufactured overseas. However, if your goal is to minimize your building’s carbon footprint, consider sourcing materials locally. It will help your business cut down on significant amounts of energy used for transportation, which will also result in lower costs.
Regionally or locally sourced materials are those produced within a certain distance from the project site. By Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, your building may be considered green if the materials used are extracted, manufactured, or recovered 800 kilometers from the site and if they comprise a minimum of 10 percent of the total cost.
In addition, local sourcing efforts help with other economic thresholds that are being exceeded by present day building construction. It also promotes independent thinking and a creative approach to problem-solving among local craftspeople and an opportunity for them to contribute to the country’s Gross National Product.
Responsible procurement (and usage) of renewable materials improves the environmental performance of a building or institution as it reduces the number of products made from fossil-fuel derivatives. This means that there is less need to mine, refine, transport, and store fossil fuels, which results in lower greenhouse gas emissions.
A rapidly renewable material has the capacity to regenerate itself in 10 years or less. This includes bio-based products made from plants harvested on a 10-year cycle or less. Prime examples are linseed, straw, cotton, wheat, sunflower, natural rubber, bamboo, and cork. These feedstocks are often used in green building products, like linoleum, straw bales, cotton batt insulation, wheat board panels, bamboo cabinetry, cork flooring, soy-based foam release agents, and fabrics.
Lastly, when choosing building materials, check if the manufacturer espouses fair wages and benefits and upholds humane working conditions. Do they support the development of its employees, stakeholders, and the environment? Do they present equal opportunities accessible to everyone? Make sure that your materials are made in a way that supports the people and communities involved.
ORIGINAL TEXT by Amado de Jesus
ADDITIONAL TEXT by Kleo Catienza
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