Second Opinion Magazine
Sustainable Construction … More Than You’d Think
by Bob Sworski, cbs² Architects
Sustainability in the construction industry spans a very broad band of ideas and concepts. One of the first common “sustainable” concepts was realized in the 1970’s in conserving energy, both fuel and electricity. Simply turning off your lights when not in use qualifies as a sustainable practice. Today, more and more sustainable concepts are driven by technology. That technology can be found in the research and development process, manufacturing, and/or end-user phases. Sustainable construction has long been practiced in the commercial market sector. More recently, over the last decade, the residential market has become more involved with construction debris recycling – even grinding up gypsum board on-site to augment soil conditions.
Commercial and residential building owners continue to upgrade the more common items such as window systems, geothermal heat/cooling systems, attic/wall insulation, provisions for a tighter building envelope, and air-to-air heat exchangers.
Additional items would include recycled carpet and ceramic and porcelain tile products. These items are now available in a wider marketplace. Subsequently, the prices have fallen such that now those products are similarly priced with non-recycled products. Interestingly enough, off gassing, in most cases, has been reduced. It is important to note here that consumers should check on off gassing of products they may use in the work place or in their home. While an item may be a very sustainable product, it may emit gases for a period of time that may affect one’s health.
In the end, Internet research is a great tool for beginning to investigate a design concept or a product’s use and reputation. Further assistance can be acquired by reaching out to a licensed Architect for design solutions for your particular site and situation.