Opinion: The four pillars of sustainable construction

Green eco house environmental background in grass field for future residential building plot

Sustainable construction is the use of renewable and recyclable materials in building - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I was at a wedding recently and was seated next to a really interesting lady who is an environmentalist. Our discussion about our career paths got me thinking about just how important sustainable construction actually is, whether you are adding to your existing building, or starting from the ground up.

Sustainable construction is the use of renewable and recyclable materials in building, in addition to lowering energy consumption and waste both during and after the build phase. Basically, this means that your building project should include elements that have an on-going positive influence on the building's overall environmental impact.

Rebecca Janman, a young female property surveyor, standing outside a building and smiling at the camera

Rebecca Janman, of Iceni Surveyors - Credit: Iceni Surveyors

Firstly, lets tackle the impact on wildlife when building. An alarming fact is that a commonly used product, the breathable membrane, used on builds of all shapes and sizes, can trap bats causing them to literally starve to death – how awful is that! Also, have you noticed just how many ladybirds you’ve spotted inside of late? They are creeping indoors now to hibernate for the winter. Then, can we spare a thought for the local, lovable hedgehog – all you need is 175mm gaps in your fence panels to allow them access to roam free.

When on site, I try to encourage clients not to cut down that majestic and mature tree and keep that scruffy hedge albeit with a short back and sides. I am an advocate of the pond, and please leave leaves. Don’t over manicure the garden and grounds. Nature needs to be nurtured, even in the centre of your next building project.

Hedgehog, (Scientific name: Erinaceus Europaeus). Close up of a wild, native, European hedgehog in

A 175mm gap in your fence panels is all you need to allow hedgehogs to roam free - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Now for the economics. Recycled aggregates and materials from sand and type one to road plainings are all perfectly acceptable on most projects the second time around. Your project manager should be able to advise you further on what materials could be sourced from recycling, rather than it just being used for landfill.

Finally, there is the social aspect. This doesn’t affect all building projects and is usually left for the larger developments. But even so, if we are extending or building a new home, of course we need to encompass the thoughts and feelings of those around us.

If any of the issues raised today are a concern, or if you would like to discuss your build options further, please do get in touch with the team on 0800 772 0900 or visit www.icenisurveyors.co.uk.

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