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The construction industry has had a successful year in developing new ways to make building sustainable and healthy for citizens. From recycled glass to cork, there's been an abundance of materials used for creating better structures. Many of these trends will roll over into 2020, but there's no doubt that a new crop of green solutions will surface.

Construction companies and contractors will benefit from keeping staying on the leading edge of new trends. Environmentalism is on everyone's minds, and consumers want sustainable structures for their attractiveness and eco-friendly properties. Implementing the next best resources puts engineers ahead of the competition while preserving the planet.

The Benefits of Sustainable Construction

Eco-friendly buildings offer numerous benefits to their builders and owners. They generate less waste, require less energy and output less carbon dioxide, making the Earth cleaner. Because they consist of high-quality materials, they help building owners save money on maintenance and upkeep. These funds can go toward other necessary expenses, such as purchasing inventory or implementing upgrades for tenants.

Buildings made from green materials often run using sustainable techniques—a two-for-one deal on ecological conservation. Renewed waste management and energy practices can help businesses become pollution-free. Fewer fossil fuels and lower pollution rates will stop the land and oceans from reaching critical temperatures. However, every industry must get on board to achieve this—including construction.

Types of Green Building Materials

Sustainable building materials are characterized by their low toxicity, renewability and affordable costs. Many types currently exist, and they'll continue to improve as builders find new uses for them. They're all eco-friendly in differing aspects, and it's best to combine several in a project to reap the full benefits.

Carbon-Neutral Facades
Carbon neutrality doesn't only spring from lower energy usage, it can come from the foundation of a building itself. Carbon-scrubbing buildings have existed for years, quietly doing their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With environmentalism becoming commonplace, carbon-scrubbing tiles could become a widespread solution to air pollution. However, some builders have turned to a more plant-based version of carbon removal: algae curtains.

A company created algae curtains that remove atmospheric carbon dioxide and output oxygen through lengthy tubing. These tubes contain algae that photosynthesizes CO2 into oxygen. Unclean air flows in at the bottom, and it undergoes carbon sequestration once it reaches the green organisms.

Nanomaterials
Nanoparticles strengthen materials, make surfaces scratch-resistant and prevent mold growth. These particles work in conjunction with other green materials and can exist as standalone products, such as graphene. Manufacturers have experimented with nanotechnology by applying nanocomposites to concrete, steel, glass and more. What results is a product with enhanced durability and, in some cases, self-cleaning properties.

Nanotechnology is one of many avenues building professionals can take to achieve green certification with every structure they create. It offers a wide range of uses in the construction industry, as carbon nanotubes and nano-titania are well-known for their tensile strength. Stronger and longer-lasting materials will allow builders to produce more projects with fewer resources, reducing energy usage and pollution.

Non-Toxic Chemicals
Contractors and building owners alike are substituting toxic paints, joint compounds and varnishes with low-VOC alternatives. Non-toxic building materials reduce exposure to harmful toxins, decreasing the risk of illness for construction workers. Working long hours around concentrated chemicals can damage the lungs, eyes and other organs over time. By eliminating dangerous substances, workers can enjoy safer workspaces and a better quality of life.

The same applies to homeowners and landlords who live in residences with high VOC concentrations. People will likely opt for living spaces without toxic off-gassing, which funnels funds toward contractors who adhere to sustainability. Residents will benefit from better health and ventilation, reducing their HVAC usage and energy bills.

Sustainably Sourced Wood
Builders have been using wood for centuries, but many companies now realize how sustainable it is compared to other materials. It doesn't require as much energy as glass or metal to create, and it's reusable even without recycling. It's essential for contractors to use sustainably sourced wood, as not all timber is equal. Eco-friendly lumber comes from suppliers who uphold practices like selective harvesting and biodiversity conservation.

Researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology have created a type of transparent wood from balsa and polyethylene glycol. The polyethylene glycol absorbs energy when heated and releases it when cooled. This ability could pave the way for energy-efficient windows and tiles that heat buildings without using HVAC systems.

The Next Steps to Sustainable Construction

Construction industry trends increase in their efficiency and prevalence each year. The only way toward progress is forward, and innovators are continuously creating new materials for industry professionals to use. There's no shortage of brilliant ideas—it’s on construction companies to take the lead.

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