Now, before I start talking about how the construction industry is becoming more environmentally friendly, I just wanted to make it clear that I am aware that some politicians have a vested interest in the companies who produce the products. It would therefore be in their own financial interest to make sure that new regulations are passed to ensure that the companies in question receive more business. However, these writings are not politically motivated, therefore that little disclaimer, if you like, is all I will say about that subject.
So on a more positive note… Generally speaking the controls being put in place over construction projects are becoming much greener, both in terms of the planning and process of the build itself, even extending to many new “eco-friendly homes” now being built across the country. In fact from what I’ve been reading in the press for the last few years, the companies providing home insulation, solar panels and such like are the only ones who have lasted through the recession with any degree of success.
The whole planning process for developments has become more stringent of late too, not in respect of where the houses are actually built, which is another argument altogether, but certainly in respect of prior monitoring for endangered species or fauna and their preservation if found. Interestingly the onus of these decisions is now made on a more local level, meaning that local people are more likely to become involved and potentially highlight any plants or species in the area which could need protecting.
In addition, the trend towards timber frames is making a return, to be fair it came about the first time around due to lack of options, i.e. back when windows and doors were first put in wood was the only suitable material available. Since then we have had a trend towards aluminium back in the 70′s, then the UPVC revolution, but more recently people seem to be keen to return to the aesthetic appeal and practical insulation properties of wooden frames, with many companies offering these as their main products. Obviously wood is only an ecologically viable option if it’s suitably sourced and the stocks maintained, but the bigger picture of planting forests (albeit those which will later be cut down and replaced again) can only be a good thing for our planet.
Something rarely considered by home owners is water leaks, well, that is until you experience one of course! but something which is being fitted to many commercial buildings and tower blocks is a water monitoring system which can detect a leak and prevent less obvious leaks becoming a big problem. I would imagine this kind of technology was developed by the water utilities companies for tracking how much water is lost through the network every year, although based on the latest statistics of water loss it’s said to be a quater of everything which runs through their pipes, so if indeeed it is monitored that closely they must seldom be taken any notice of and even less frequently acted upon! It seems that leak detecting systems are relatively cheap in comparison to the damage a serious leak can cause, both above or below ground, so perhaps in the future they will become much more commonplace. I do find it somewhat ironic that water bills are steadily rising while 25% of water is lost through leaks, it’s also rather shocking that water conservation is not given a much higher priority in a world where drought is becoming ever more commonplace worldwide, and even here in the UK we suffer from hosepipe bans every couple of years. Perhaps adequate leak detection and maintenance would resolve the problem?
My personal favorite green issue in construction is actually a much broader topic, it being the overall energy performance of buildings, as these are gradually being tightened, so all industries involved in and supplying to the construction industry must improve their offerings. If these regulations could be taken to a high enough level so all new buildings would be more efficient for the homeowners and friendlier to our planet long term.