Sustainability takes on a multi-faceted meaning where it relates to construction. From construction materials and location selection to heating systems and interior design, sustainable choices are numerous.
The reasons for choosing sustainable construction practices are equally complex. From consumer expectations to corporate social responsibility, people are considering the impact of construction projects.
Today we’ll discuss why green construction matters and how a Uponor radiant heating system contributes to a sustainable construction project.
Why Sustainability is Important in Construction
“Sustainability must be the foundation of all development and conservation planning in the future because human health and well being, and the health of our planet as a whole, is dependent on adopting sustainable practices.” —Tom Hoctor, Ph.D., Department of Landscape Architecture
Sustainable construction concerns multiple stakeholders associated with a project: architects, engineers, designers, building dwellers, local government, adjacent communities and anyone who influences the project’s outcomes. Each stakeholder must be considered in a sustainable project.
Projects leads must first consider the surrounding community as they will be impacted most. Does the building site require lead cleanup? Will there be toxic emissions? Will other hazardous materials make their way into the water supply or air? A sustainable construction plan must prioritize these concerns.
Impacts on the Environment
Since the environment is a major focus of sustainable building practices, it’s the next important factor for consideration. Pollution from construction projects are capable of the following:
- Air Pollution: This has the most immediate effect on people and the environment. Airborne toxins in the form of dust, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may spread around the neighbourhood. Most commonly, PM10, or particulate matter under 10 microns in diameter, asbestos, and gasses such as carbon monoxide pose the largest threats.
- Soil Pollution: Once the dust settles, the soil becomes tainted with the pollutants mentioned above. Over time, the soil accumulates pollutants that will impact inhabitants and soil in the long term.
- Water Pollution: Runoff from groundwater near constructions sites may become polluted with hazardous materials such as those listed under air pollution, but may also include paints, glues, fuel, and cement. Domestic and wildlife may drink contaminated water. Although underestimated, there are reasons to believe the impact is far greater than research supports.
- Noise Pollution: Noise pollution is not something people always consider when it comes to construction, but for anyone who has lived in an urban space will attest to: construction noises are extremely bothersome. Did you know that noise affects the health of people? Sleep disturbances, stress, and even high blood pressure may be a result of noise pollution.
Sustainable Heating and Cooling
Just one facet of a project’s sustainable model is the heating and cooling.
There are ecological benefits to adopting a radiant heating and cooling design. Uponor has developed a wide range of radiant heating and cooling products that address indoor and outdoor environmental concerns while keeping the user in mind.
The benefits to Uponor’s radiant heating and cooling systems can be summarized in four points.
- Radiant systems require less energy. Why? Because water can transport 3,500 more energy than air.
- The system provides better thermal comfort. Occupants experience an optimal level of comfort when the human body exchanges heat with its surroundings (instead of the just the air).
- Zone operation leads to less energy consumption. The only areas heated or cooled are the inhabited ones.
- The system works seamlessly with renewable energy sources such as solar, waste-heat, and geothermal.
Meeting Consumer Expectations
As consumer awareness around sustainable building practices grows, so does the demand for sustainable construction.
A recent report confirmed that 64 per cent of contractors stated that sustainable capabilities are important when bidding for projects.
Emphasis on recycled materials, waste reduction, carbon footprint, and green certifications are increasingly in demand.
And key growth markets?
The Middle East and Asia.
Where Uponor Products Improve Consumer Experience
Beyond the environmental issues that plague the construction industry, there are benefits to adopting sustainable building practices such as radiant heating and cooling.
- Green buildings can achieve a 25 to 50 per cent energy savings due to utility savings.
- Green buildings have a higher return on assets. For instance, green buildings achieve higher rentals.
- The property value of green buildings has increased property values due to lower operating costs, higher rents, and utility risk reduction.
The economic benefits are enticing to buyers, renters, and owners alike.
Corporate Social Responsibility
What is corporate social responsibility?
According to Investopedia, “Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable — to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practising corporate social responsibility, also called corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society including economic, social, and environmental.”
With the previously discussed consumer awareness expectations, CSR is just a matter of good business.
Corporations have a lot of influence on what acceptable business practices are and what they become. By focusing on the workplace, environment, community and environment, corporations stand to become stronger organizations.
CSR and Sustainable Practices Benefit Builders
What construction companies, designers and architects stand to gain from sustainable building practices. Case studies from the 1970s through the 1990s show a positive correlation between CSR and financial performance.
Here are more ways CSR and sustainable construction benefits builders:
- Improved reputation among consumers
- Employee satisfaction
- Improved financial performance
- Better risk management
- Access to capital
- Better relations with communities
While there is no standard for CSR, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has released “voluntary” standards that help companies improve their CSR.
According to the ISO 26000, “Business and organizations do not operate in a vacuum. Their relationship to the society and environment in which they operate is a critical factor in their ability to continue to operate effectively. It is also increasingly being used as a measure of their overall performance.”
How Uponor Help Builders Achieve Sustainability Goals
Uponor’s radiant heating and cooling systems have a part to play in a sustainable construction project. Builders, consumers and the environment alike stand to benefit from a radiant system.
Let’s revisit how Uponor helps builders achieve sustainability goals:
- Radiant heating and cooling work seamlessly with renewable energy sources.
- Radiant systems improve the thermal comfort of inhabitants.
- Uponor systems consume less energy than traditional HVAC systems.
- Implementing a radiant system reinforces the importance of CSR.
- Radiant systems attract consumers looking to engage with green technology.
Every firm, construction company or sole proprietor is encouraged to adopt practices that are socially responsible.
Uponor makes that mission easier.