Greener construction

What is “Greener construction” ?


The 21st Century buzz-words are Low carbon footprint; returning to nature and environmental responsibility!!! And all those phrases which make us warm and cozy inside.

The unfortunate reality of our modern developed society is that our life styles and cities infrastructures have developed to a point where we realistically will not be able to implement all these environmental conscious responsibilities.

However, building technologies and related construction materials have developed since man first started construction on a mass scale.

These developments have made it possible for dwellings and buildings to be designed; constructed and maintained in such a manner, as to reduce man’s destructive impact on his environment.

It has become incumbent upon Designers and Developers to utilize new methods of building and energy conservation. As a species we have slipped into a comfort zone of the technology we have enveloped ourselves with and we are dependent on that technology.

Point of thought: “If it was found, that Cell phones directly caused Cancer. Do you believe that people will stop buying and using Cell phones?

The answer is clearly NO, because as a modern society we have become dependent on Cellphone technology in our daily lives.”

In the same manner, we have become used to hot water; electricity; stoves; T.V etc. and won’t give up these technologies, in an effort to “Save” our environment.

The challenge therefore is, can we surround ourselves with these technologies, but reduce their environmentally harmful effects?

The South African Government has passed legislation, known as the SANS 10400
(South African Nation Standards), to re-enforce “The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, 1977 (Act 103 of 1977), Notice No. R. 574, as published in Government Gazette No. 31084 of 30 May 2008”, which governs design requirement on new developments, to reduce communities Carbon footprint.

Greener construction methods   Greener construction methods Energy efficient foundationsEnergy efficient foundations

Environmentally friendly construction
Environmentally friendly construction

Green construction for modern buildings
Green construction for modern buildings
However, the reality is that it is impossible to generate energy without side effects
(Every action has an equally opposite reaction – Newton), hence to produce heat, we burned wood resulting in air-pollution and the destruction of Woodland areas, it seems that just to create heat we actually had a greater “opposite” effect on our environment! The same is true if we look closely at Coal burning Power plants. We clearly create more environmentally hazardous pollution, than the energy we consume!Not all these facts are “Doom and Gloom”, the world over  have developed new energy storing building materials and better way of converting natural energy sources, for domestic consumption.

The challenge our species is facing, is not a life style change (Although it would help), but a mental change.

We need to incorporate energy efficient methods into ALL new developments, in the same manner that we embraced the technology of CD’s when they first were introduced into our lives. When CD technology first came out, it was for the rich, disc and the hi-fi’s needed to run them were expensive and out of reach of most people, but the more they were sold, the more we embraced this new technology, until the present. Now every bit of music; movies and software is stored on CD’s.

Internationally South Africa is viewed as a third world country, a country where the Government builds toilets in the veld with no other infrastructure. However we can lead the way in first world building technics, all it takes is a change of mindset, because the building and life style technologies are currently with us.

Technological developments have boomed like an out of control brush fire, just looking at how far we have developed computers; cell phones; vehicles etc. Building materials and construction methods have not been left behind in these technological advancements.

However, as a society we cling to our old traditional ways of construction. We still believe that brick and mortar are the strongest and most reliable way to build, that these structures are safe and provide the best insulation and when designers and developers propose better alternatives, we recoil into our safety zone and question, with disbelief, that there may be better construction methods and we view anything new with suspicion. Always waiting to see if these alternative building methods will take-off, before we embrace the new technology.