How are environmental issues affecting the construction sector?
The world is currently in the midst of an El Niño weather front, which can cause serious changes to global weather patterns. Couple this with a growing worldwide scientific affirmation in human-influenced climate change, and it seems like these kinds of extreme weather systems will only increase year on year. Heavier rainfall is leading to flooding in many locations across the globe, as well as droughts and overheating in the summer that affects building materials, so how is the construction sector dealing with these increased impacts?
In order to prevent large swathes of future populations losing their homes and assets due to unforeseen weather conditions, the construction industry has to adapt and produce more sustainable homes that have the potential to withstand such destructive forces as hurricanes and floods. To push forward this sustainable development, construction companies have been moving in new technologies in order to stave off environmental catastrophe.
Sustainable designs and materials have been in vogue over the last couple of decades, but the increased market share is really starting to become noticeable as homeowners and the construction industry alike opt for houses that please visually and in knowing that they won’t be as susceptible to energy waste, storms and flooding.
One element that can have the biggest effect is adding loft insulation. Since heat rises, evidence suggests that over a quarter of all heat loss comes through loft cavities with large gaps that allow the hot air in the house to rise up and out through the roof. Downstairs meanwhile, plantation shutters are becoming a popular choice to keep the heat in as they are designed to fit the window exactly, rather than like a curtain that just loosely drapes over the window. Energy efficient windows are also very important, keeping the gaps between brickwork and glass as sealed as possible will reduce heat loss. One of the latest exciting technologies starting to gain attention is solar asphalt tiles, where photovoltaic cells are implanted into the roof tiles themselves, rather than being a more unsightly addition to the roof as normal solar panels tend to be.
In terms of a global response for the construction industry to environmental issues and sustainability, there are green building rating systems that exist and are used worldwide, such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification which rates the construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings in order to assess their sustainable worth. Raising the level of environmental responsibility that the construction sector must adhere to certainly seems to help the level of sustainable development increase, and several states have made this certification an obligation.
There are undoubtedly a lot of challenges and testing times ahead for the construction industry, but by continuing down the path currently set and being followed worldwide, there is certainly a case to be made that sustainable housing could play a key part in resisting climate change based weather fronts and make a genuine global difference.