The construction industry is what provides our roads,workplaces, and homes. While Americans are pushing for an updated infrastructure, there is much to be said for the idea of transforming the business of building altogether. Let’s take a moment to think about the problems posed by traditional construction practices, and examine the solutions that science has found to them.
Where We’re Building
Perhaps even more important than the question of what you’re going to build, is the matter of where you plan to build it. Habitat loss is devastating to every species and is even responsible for predatory “invasions” like the repeated mountain lion incidences making headlines right now or the unfortunate place that coyotes have in urban communities. To build sustainably, you must consider the impacts of building in that location and try to carefully plan your project to minimize those effects. Unnecessarily clearing land is not a good way for any business to gain favor within the community. Some solutions to this problem are to choose to build in places that are already developed,to add on to unoccupied structures, or to build up rather than out wherever possible.
Another thing to consider when taking on a new project is how to arrange the structure to be most energy efficient. This begins with a design that seeks to take advantage of the natural resources already available. Passive design can help meet the lighting, heating, and cooling needs within a structure without the need for additional energy consumption.
Choosing materials that are sustainably sourced will make the finished product cleaner and more attractive. The average construction site leeches a whole host of chemicals into the ground or uses at least a few dozen trees worth of lumber. The choices for replacing concrete or lumber are more varied than ever ranging from bamboo, to hemp,to recycled plastics. While these materials may be a tad pricier, they’re considered easier to work with, therefore being cheaper on the labor side of things.
Setting an Example
Keeping these principles in mind, you can raise expectations not only for what a good construction plan looks like, but a good business model as well. As more companies choose sustainable practices, others will find themselves doing the same in an effort to compete and meet the needs of the modern world.
A sustainable future must, quite literally, be built from the ground up. When we imagine our cities twenty years from now, most of us just don’t see the concrete and asphalt we’re surrounded by today. We must remember that when the urban environments we use every day are constructed with care, the interactions that take place within them are going to mirror those ideas.