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What is sustainable construction?

Sustainable construction is a model that entails efficient use of resources and materials to reduce the negative impact on the environment as much as possible in all phases of construction for a building or infrastructure. This is applied from the project’s design to waste management in the case of demolition.

According to a study conducted by the Green Building Council Spain (GBCe), the construction sector generates 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to representing 30% of energy consumption. That is why it is essential to develop sustainable construction strategies that also improve the energy efficiency of buildings, promote circular economy, and optimize the use of raw materials.

What are the benefits of sustainable construction?

In addition to its environmental advantages, sustainable construction also entails economic and social benefits; these include: 

  1. Extending the building’s life cycle: by improving the processes with which they are planned and built. This also translates into an increase in the housing’s value and its competitiveness on the market.
  2. Reduction of polluting agents: in planning a sustainable building, materials whose production, use, and disposal have a low environmental impact are chosen.
  3. Efficient resource management: this makes it possible to optimize the costs related to electrical, mechanical, and structural installations by applying an integrated design.
  4. Cost reduction in energy consumption: it aims to optimize the lighting systems (taking advantage of natural light to reduce the consumption of artificial light, installing sensors and timers, etc.), thermal insulation (minimizing the need for air conditioning systems), etc. It is also related to the possibility of generating renewable energies in the same system, such as with solar panels. Sustainable construction entails savings of up to 30% compared to conventional infrastructure’s consumption.

What factors should be considered when choosing materials for sustainable construction?

  • The amount of CO2 emissions that their manufacture, transportation, and use produce.
  • The durability and efficiency of the materials throughout the infrastructure’s life.
  • The proximity of the source so that their transportation doesn’t entail a greater expenditure of resources and an ecological impact.
  • The possibility of using recovered materials.
  • The materials’ ability to be reused, recycled, or to biodegrade.
  • Opting for eco-friendly paints, adhesives, and insulators, especially those without volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are the most polluting.   

What are the most common materials for sustainable construction?

The most commonly used materials are wood, cork, terracotta, bamboo, and stone. These contrast sharply with the materials commonly used in conventional construction, such as concrete and PVC, which contain chemical-synthetic additives.

What are the most efficient air conditioning systems in sustainable construction?

Creating and installing air conditioning systems with integrated efficient technologies that enable energy savings is one of the goals of sustainable construction. Some of the best are:

  1. Dual-flow ventilation system: a system that extracts air to the outside by its own means and, at the same time, brings new air in. This process has lower energy consumption.
  2. Underfloor heating: a heating system with pipes below the floor, an option with greater energy efficiency than the traditional system since warm air tends to rise, thus heating the entire room. Some of these systems use solar and thermal energy and even geothermal energy to heat the water circulating through the pipes.
  3. Aerothermal: a cooling, heating, and hot water generation system that is based on the extraction of energy from the air temperature transferred to the space.

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