Sustainable construction practices are on the rise in London as companies aim to reduce the environmental impact of buildings. Constructing greener buildings provides environmental benefits and can also cut costs over the long term through energy and resource efficiency. This comprehensive article explores the wide range of eco-friendly techniques London construction firms are adopting to build more sustainably.
Adopting Sustainable Building Materials
Many companies are being more selective about building materials to reduce environmental footprints. Key strategies include:
Recycled materials like steel, wood, and concrete are being salvaged from construction sites for reuse. This avoids sending useful materials to landfills and minimizes the need for virgin raw material extraction.
Local materials are being prioritized to reduce emissions associated with long distance transport. For example, London construction company Go Smart Bricks uses locally manufactured bricks within a 50 mile radius.
Renewable materials like bamboo flooring, cotton insulation, fast-growing willow wood, and cork are environmentally sustainable options because they can be replenished quickly.
Green concrete mixes are being developed using less cement or recycled aggregates and byproducts to reduce the emissions associated with cement production.
Sustainably sourced wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council ensures responsible forest management. Using reclaimed wood also reduces environmental impact.
Natural linoleum made from linseed oil, pine resin, wood flour and jute offers an eco-friendly alternative to vinyl flooring which contains harmful chemicals.
Sheep's wool insulation provides excellent thermal performance and moisture regulation while being renewable and biodegradable.
Low VOC products like paints, adhesives, and sealants with fewer volatile organic compounds improve indoor air quality.
Implementing Energy Efficient Design
Maximizing energy efficiency is a major focus of sustainable construction. Buildings account for 40% of London's greenhouse gas emissions, so improving efficiency is crucial. Tactics include:
Installing triple glazed argon filled windows and skylights to utilize free natural daylight and reduce electricity usage for lighting. This also provides passive solar heating in winter.
Insulation standards have been increased to reduce heat loss through walls, roofs, and windows. Rigid insulation boards, high performance batts, and blown-in cellulose or fiberglass increase thermal performance.
Air sealing to prevent drafts and air leaks which account for up to 25% of heating energy loss. Airtight construction ensures robust envelopes.
High efficiency HVAC systems utilize heat recovery ventilation to conserve energy. Occupancy and CO2 sensors optimize operation.
LED lighting, occupancy sensors, timers, and smart technology cut waste by lighting only occupied spaces. Daylight harvesting utilizes natural light.
Building automation systems monitor usage and automatically adjust heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting to increase efficiency.
Harnessing Renewable Energy
On-site renewable energy generation is becoming more common. Options include:
Solar photovoltaic panels on roofs, facades, and shading structures to convert sunlight into electricity. High efficiency monocrystalline panels are preferred.
Wind turbines where conditions allow, to harness wind energy. Vertical axis helical designs perform well in urban areas.
Geothermal heat pumps that transfer heat to and from the ground via water or antifreeze for heating and cooling. This provides up to 47% energy savings compared to conventional systems.
Purchasing renewable energy credits to offset grid electricity usage. Companies like [Construction Company London] source 100% renewable energy.
Constructing net zero energy buildings that produce as much renewable energy as they consume annually. On-site renewables are supplemented by energy efficiency measures.
Water saving features such as low-flow plumbing fixtures, greywater systems, drought-tolerant landscaping, and permeable paving are being integrated to reduce usage.
Low-flow toilets, taps, and showerheads cut water waste. Flow rates of 4.5L or less per flush and 8L/min or less for taps are recommended.
Greywater recycling systems capture used water from sinks, showers, washing machines to reuse for flushing toilets or irrigation. This reduces strain on water supplies.
Water efficient landscaping with native, drought-tolerant plants and drip irrigation optimize water consumption outdoors.
Permeable pavements allow rainwater to infiltrate into the soil instead of causing urban runoff. Underground reservoirs can also collect rainwater.
For example, [Construction Company London] installed a 20,000 litre underground rainwater harvesting tank to supply their office toilets and irrigation system.
Reducing construction and operational waste is a focus. Strategies include:
Salvaging existing building materials like doors, flooring, framing, and finishes for reuse onsite where possible. Deconstruction is preferred to demolition.
Rigorous waste management plans ensure proper sorting and diversion of recyclable construction waste like concrete, metals, bricks, aggregates, wood, and drywall from landfills. A minimum of 75% recycling rate is recommended.
Providing sustainably managed waste facilities like composting and recycling bins to support recycling, composting, and waste reduction during building operation.
Prioritizing Indoor Environmental Quality
Creating healthy indoor environments with abundant fresh air, natural light, and nontoxic materials has become more important. Tactics include:
Using low VOC construction materials and paints with reduced volatile organic compounds to improve indoor air quality. Green guard certification ensures low emissions.
Increased ventilation rates and high performance air filtration with a minimum MERV 13 rating to remove pollutants and allergens.
Access to daylight, green spaces, outdoor views, and interior greenery improves mental health. Circadian lighting aligns with natural cycles.
Avoiding materials with harmful ingredients like formaldehyde, phthalates, and flame retardants that can off-gas and accumulate in the body.
While sustainable construction faces challenges like higher upfront costs, inconsistent regulations, and changing standards, the environmental and human health benefits make embracing greener practices an imperative. As technology progresses and eco-friendly building becomes more mainstream, London companies are leading the way for sustainable construction globally. Their efforts pave the path to a net zero carbon future.