Sustainable Construction: Eco-Friendly Building Materials

Real Estate- Resilient homes

Philippines is known to be one of the disaster-prone countries in the world. With Philippines being one of the areas surrounded by the Pacific Ring of Fire, the residents of the country is vulnerable to experience volcanic and seismic activities as well as typhoons. This living condition demands the use of heavy-duty construction materials that can withstand natural disasters which may suddenly occur at any time of the year.

This might be the reason why Filipinos prefer homes made of cement and steel over wood and other sustainable building materials to resist the calamities that may possibly happen anytime. However, manufacturing of building materials for concrete infrastructures is one of the major contributors in the carbon footprint issue of the world. Moreover, the construction industry is continuously growing because of the demand for housing and commercial use.

The growing population indicates greater housing demands that might severely impact the environment and habitable condition of the planet. To prevent its environmental impact, it is better to adopt sustainable construction and shift to building low-impact homes.

There is a notion that eco-friendly building materials are not heavy duty but this should not be the case with proper knowledge and appropriate reinforcing treatments on these sustainable materials.

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What is Sustainable Construction?

Construction activity can still be eco-friendly through utilizing alternative materials. The use of eco-friendly construction materials is known as sustainable construction. This building activity prioritizes the recyclable and renewable construction materials for establishing a property. Furthermore, it aims to minimize waste production and energy consumption especially that the machineries used for making regular construction materials heavily lean on fossil fuel for power which significantly impacts the ozone layer.

Also, sustainable construction encompasses the long-term design of the infrastructure. This means that the infrastructure’s design should have low environmental impact in the long run and supports eco-friendly options to restore the life of our planet. This can be in the form of energy efficient solutions like insulations, roof hatches, solar panels, more windows for natural light and ventilation, and energy saving appliances.

Do Sustainable Building Materials Last Long for Homes?

Contrary to the belief that sustainable building materials might not last long, the essence of utilizing sustainable construction materials for a home is to make a durable infrastructure that will stand for many years or decades with little to no maintenance cost. However, some of the construction materials from recycled sources may not be readily available in the market or might be rare to find. Still, with numerous eco-friendly materials, there are still other alternatives to choose from.

With its goal to be sustainable, it focuses on minimizing waste and resource usage especially for maintenance. A truly sustainable construction activity does not only aim to use recycled and renewable materials but it also envisions to make a long-lasting infrastructure that has little to no maintenance cost especially in terms of building resources which are known to be one of the roots of high carbon footprint in our planet.

Successfully integrating sustainable practices in constructing a house leads you to establish a low-impact home which considerably have low environmental impact and produces less future costs in terms of maintenance and utilities.

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4 Benefits of Building a Low-Impact Home

The comfort of having a home should not be at the expense of the planet. If you are in the planning stage of building your residential home, you must consider a low-impact home for your residence. Sourcing for the materials may pose a challenge, in addition to finances. Regardless of, the benefits outweigh all the doubts and challenges in constructing a low-impact home.

1. Energy Efficient

Aside from using eco-friendly building materials, low-impact homes have a sustainable design which supports a sustainable living condition. It is designed to be energy efficient because it maximizes the use of natural light and ventilation from windows.

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2. Low Carbon Footprint

Maximizing natural light and ventilation from windows help in minimizing dependence on appliances for lighting and air conditioning. With reduced dependence, your home produces less carbon footprint. If you have a bigger budget, you can lower your home’s carbon footprint even more by opting to install solar panels. These panels converts sunlight into solar energy which becomes the source of electricity instead of utilizing fuel-based electricity for your appliances at home.

Read More: Sustainable Lifestyle in the Philippines: How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

3. Increased Level of Comfort

With a proper ventilation setup in a low-impact home, you do not have to worry about the rapid change of weather condition as it can easily regulate the temperature due to the installed insulation treatment and natural source of air ventilation. In case that the structural design may not suffice on maintaining a comfortable temperature, your air conditioning system would not have a difficulty in regulating the temperature to your desired thermostat.

4. Non-Toxic or Lessened Exposure Too Harmful Substances

The traditional building materials are considered harmful for humans especially when inhaled. It causes respiratory problems and other illnesses. Furthermore, some of it contains carcinogens which are known to cause cancer. Deciding on building a low-impact home design helps lessen the exposure of construction workers on these harmful chemicals and prevents you from inhaling the residues left from the construction stage after you move in to your new home.

7 Common Eco-Friendly Construction Materials To Use For Your Home

Eco-friendly construction materials are not only derived from renewable resources like trees and plants. This can also be the scraps from previous infrastructures that had been demolished. These demolition wastes can be salvaged and repurposed for a new project. This shows the numerous sources for sustainable construction materials. Now, the final decision lies on the needs and creativity of the contractor in line with the demands of the client.

As a guide, here are the commonly used eco-friendly construction materials which are common and readily available in different parts of the Philippines.

1. Bamboo

A good replacement for woods from trees. When woods are harvested from trees, it takes several decades to grow back. With this, bamboo is a good replacement because it is quick to regenerate. In fact, it grows for about 2 feet per day and it can grow on any soil as long as it is not soggy or too dry. Moreover, this can be easily found in the Philippines as it grows in a tropical climate.

When using bamboos as a construction material, you must remember that several treatments and reinforcement methods must be done to make it resistant to rotting and swelling as these activities affect its long-term durability.

2. Coco Lumber

Although this is a tree, it can fully grow in less than a decade. Coconut tree has a limited useful life in bearing a fruit so coconut plantation has no other choice but to grow new trees after its useful life. Still, this limitation makes it an opportunity to create a new source of lumber.

Like other types, coco lumber is durable as well. In fact, it has a high decay resistance despite being susceptible to insect attacks. As long as proper application of wood treatment is done, this will not become a problem on the quality of the material in the long run.

3. Rice Hull Ash Cement (RHAC)

Philippines is one of the largest rice producers in the world. As rice grains are being processed, the coating of the rice seed is removed during the milling process. This coating is known as the rice hull. This waste can be processed further to produce a cement substitute.

If a rice hull is burned between 700 to 750°C, it creates a binding component during the burning process. The binding component is in the form of ashes which is proven to be a cement-like binding substance which is perfect for creating concrete parts of an infrastructure. The processing activity might be producing carbon dioxide emission but compared to cement manufacturing, its environmental impact is lower.

4. Reclaimed Wood and Steel

Wood and steel salvaged from infrastructures or machineries can be repurposed for another project. An environmentally responsible way of constructing real estate properties is through recycling woods and steel so construction waste landfill will be reduced. Moreover, the tree which the wood is sourced takes a lot of decades to fully grow and become suitable for lumber processing. Similarly, steel manufacturing might be costly in terms of energy usage yet the by-product is durable and long-lasting thus making it a perfectly recyclable construction material with proper care and salvaging methods.

To further understand the significant impact of using reclaimed wood and steel, think of this scenario. A 185 square meter house requires lumber from 50 trees for framing and building foundation. Same goes with steel, it consumes enormous amount of energy to process steel bars and tubulars to be used for the framing process. But if you decide to use reclaimed wood and steel, the carbon footprint from the manufacturing process is reduced because reclaimed steel can be derived from cars while reclaimed woods can be sourced from retired infrastructures.

5. Recycled Plastic

Plastic is the major contributor in the global pollution. With the brilliant minds of our experts, used plastics are being reprocessed to become a potential raw material for certain construction materials. This can be in the form of PVC pipes, roofs, floors, or even windows. Currently, the components of recycled plastic is believed to have a potential to become an additional substance for producing eco-friendly concretes.

6. Precast Concrete Slabs

Even though this is factory-made, precast concrete slabs are better over concrete bricks especially when durability is considered. The slabs require less energy to produce than bricks without sacrificing its durability. Additionally, it provide homes with better insulation and low maintenance costs as it can easily withstand any weather condition and has a low chance of getting cracks and structural faults in the long run.

7. Straw Bales

Who would have thought that the stalk of grasses from wheat and rice plants can be used as a construction material? Straw bales can be easily sourced in the Philippines because agriculture is one of the main drivers of the country’s economy particularly rice production. Moreover, straw bales are good insulators and resistant to fire up to a certain degree. It is also cost effective as these are considered scraps from farms which makes it an effective and cheap option for home insulators.

Living a Sustainable Life

Our goals and aspirations might inevitably impact our planet. However, as we try to make our dreams happen, taking into account the environment should become a norm. Doing this will help us enjoy achieving our dreams with less guilt because of its low environmental impact.

It may be inevitable to produce carbon footprints but we must strive to gradually shift to a sustainable life. In this way, it helps in making the planet livable for the succeeding generations. In construction, the only choices to reduce carbon dioxide emission are through recycling, reusing, and resorting on highly durable building materials to lessen an infrastructure’s environmental impact.

Read More: Ways to Create a Sustainable Home

If you want a high quality home with low maintenance cost, Bria Homes is a perfect option. It offers various house and lot models and its quality will surely not disappoint. Moreover, prices will not be an issue because of flexible payment terms and affordable pricing scheme.

With Bria, your investment does not only impact your life because of its initiative to practice corporate social responsibility. Aside from bringing affordable housing units closer to Filipinos, it integrates sustainable practices on its residential projects. Red Rosales, Bria Homes President, asserts that it preserves ecological integrity through “judicious use of water, land, energy, and non-renewable resources; recycling household wastes; and utilization of eco-friendly technology for reduced carbon footprint of every Bria community.”

Read More: BRIA Homes promotes sustainable living in Davao developments: Tagum, Panabo and Digos

Moreover, it supports building a sustainable lifestyle where the well-being of its homeowners is taken into account. This is the main motivation for building Sentro as it aims to build a common space where the neighborhood can connect and socialize with one another. This space is intended to promote an active lifestyle through the parks and playgrounds built inside a Bria community.

To learn more about our offers, you may check this link. You can also contact us through our social media platforms. or book an appointment for a virtual tour of our housing units.

Written By Steven Hernandez