Constructing for the Planet: 4 Green Trends & Technologies
Smart, energy-efficient homes are fast becoming the future of residential construction across the UK. State of the art technologies are being innovated every day that can drastically improve the energy efficiency of our buildings - and these technologies are only becoming more affordable for both homeowners and construction companies.
For today’s post, Jolly Good Loans are sharing some of the most interesting emerging trends and technologies designed to improve the eco-friendliness of new and existing buildings - from the more basic aspects of home design to developments in renewable energy and sustainable materials.
This might seem obvious to some, but to be energy efficient you must design your construction methodically. Analyse the different dimensions of the soon-to-be-built structure and consider how planet-friendly technologies and approaches can be incorporated into every level from the outset - as this way, you’ll make the design and implementation stages much easier later on.
Sustainable and recyclable materials
Materials are the foundation for any construction project, and in recent years there have been great developments in how these can be made eco-friendlier. Within the last half-century alone, an upcycle/recycle approach to waste has seen a plethora of innovative materials emerge, including bottles, cork and reclaimed tiles.
From swapping standard concrete for eco-friendly Timber structures, to using straw bales for organic home insulation, the breadth of new eco-friendly materials being integrated into building projects is astounding - and we expect newer, tech-centred innovations will increasingly come into the fold in 2019 and beyond. Together, these different materials are forming the building blocks for a more sustainable construction industry as a whole.
If you’re striving for energy-efficiency - and let’s face it, most homes are - then insulation is non-negotiable. Insulating a structure is not a new concept - with even ancient civilizations making use of asbestos or, at the very least, straw, to keep heat inside their homes - but new ideas are taking insulation to the next level.
Using advanced composite materials, new, environmentally friendly forms of foam insulation are working their way into the market, while greater emphasis is being placed on insulating doors and floors as well as walls - seeing homes consuming less energy than before. Airtight doors are just one of the ways green-minded construction companies are saving residents their money and the planet its resources.
Renewable energy systems
Renewable energy systems were developed to provide an eco-friendly alternative to the unsustainable energy sources relied upon in the past. Solar panels and wind turbines are two of the most widespread renewable energy sources, however, heat retention and water filtration systems are increasingly being used to retain and reuse resources generated by non-renewable systems.
The premise behind a heat retention system is simple: to re-distribute the heat around a building to conserve energy and minimise the need for heat generation. A simple form of heat retention system is a heat pump, which works much like refrigerator systems in that it transfers heat from warmer areas to colder ones. In a home, heat pumps monitor each room’s temperature and, if it detects that one is cooler than another, it transfers heat through pipes from the warm to the cool room - reducing the need to generate new heat and maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout the home.
Another form of heat retention system is heat recovery ventilation (HRV), which works to continuously supply fresh, clean and filtered air to a property while recovering and redistributing heat. Both of these technologies reduce how much the homeowner will have to rely on more traditional heating methods - saving precious resources from being used unnecessarily.
Similar to a heat retention system, water filtration systems ensure that there’s no wastage of the resources used within the building. Unlike alternative water filters, a whole house filtration system doesn’t produce wastewater, meaning that all the water that comes into the filter will be used in some way within the building - whether as toilet water or clean drinking water.
We live in a world where technologies are continually being developed and improved. Smart home technologies, were once a fantasy only dreamt up in dystopian fiction novels, now, they’re becoming a common sight in new properties and can have a major influence on the energy efficiency of a home.
Utilising latest technologies like the SmartThings system allows homeowners to control heating, lighting and even plug sockets from the tap of a mobile, so that they’re not wasting energy when it’s not needed. For homeowners, this is perfect for when they’ve forgotten to switch the lights off before leaving the house or set the heating on a timer but are on holiday for the weekend.
In a move into the smart home market, Tesla launched a home battery product called Powerwall that allows homeowners to become more independent of their utility with an innovative solar power retention system. Once the solar panels have produced more electricity than needed, the leftover energy is stored in the Tesla battery and is released as and when needed later on - making solar panels even more eco-friendly than they already were.
The construction industry is at a turning point, facing some of the toughest challenges and developments needed to adapt home-building to the needs of the 21st century. With 2019 just around the corner, we can’t wait to see what innovations the year ahead brings.
Keith Harrison is a content creator and writer for Jolly Good Loans - your online personal loans encyclopedia.
Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty technical manual.