The living standard of society increases each year, which results in increasingly higher consumption of energy and natural resources, and we rarely think about what world we will leave behind us for future generations.
The reserves of natural resources have already reached the critical limit globally. They are close to complete exhaustion, which makes us consider, whether it is not the last moment to change the society development model.
In this regard, the term sustainability becomes increasingly more popular.
Sustainability is a direction of development, which meets the needs of current generations, at the same time not compromising the needs of future generations.
The unit of measurement of sustainable lifestyle is “ecological footprint”, which reflects, how much area of the Earth is necessary for satisfying our needs. It reflects the amount of natural resources (food, water, air, energy) we need.
The main objective of sustainability is to satisfy the modern needs, using renewable resources in order to meet the needs of future generations.
Currently, consumption of resources in European countries considerably exceeds the environment-friendly limits. If every person on our planet would consume resources and generate CO2 emissions as intensively as an average European, three planets would be necessary for meeting our needs.
Being aware that development has an ecological limit, we have to be prepared to look for and accept solutions to continue and ensure development in a long-term perspective. It is achieved, trying to reduce greenhouse gases, amount of waste in the environment, preserving environmental resources and providing them to societies, which allows people to achieve all opportunities.
Sustainability applies to many areas of life. One of such areas is undoubtedly the construction industry, which causes one of the greatest harms to the environment, destroying the biological diversity, generating a huge amount of solid waste, causing environmental pollution and consuming natural resources worldwide. Moreover, concerns arise not only due to the high consumption of natural resources, but also their irrational use during the construction process and further operation of buildings.
Consequently, the sustainability principles become increasingly relevant in the construction industry and represent an inseparable part of the industry development.
Sustainable construction is based on complex solutions that raise efficiency of buildings by reducing consumption of energy, water and other natural resources. The aim of sustainable construction is to minimise the use of materials and energy, as well as the adverse effect on people and the environment during the cycle of construction, management and demolition of building.
Although sustainable construction is nowadays considered one of the latest and contemporary directions of construction, some of its elements have been known already for a long time. One of such elements is use of natural and environment-friendly building materials. Sustainable construction combines knowledge gained throughout centuries and modern technological solutions, achieving optimal balance between traditional solutions and application of innovative solutions.
Sustainability is not just one or a couple of processes during construction of building. The principles of sustainability apply starting from the design idea and until the end of the building life cycle.
Architecture and design:
Sustainable architecture is architecture aimed at reducing the negative impact on the environment, achieving this aim through efficiency of buildings and minimality in the use of materials, energy and the entire ecosystem.
This is achieved by selecting the most suitable architectural, constructive and building location solutions, so that during the building life cycle – planning, construction, operation, maintaining and demolition – all the consumable and usable resources are optimised.
Energy-saving and zero waste technologies are used in construction of sustainable building.
Local workforce is employed, thus promoting the regional economy.
Ecological and environment-friendly building materials are used in construction of sustainable building.
These buildings are constructed using materials that are a renewable resource, reusable or recyclable resources. Such materials include, for example, wood, stone, clay bricks, waste paper.
Ideally, materials are manufactured in the local region, thus promoting the regional economy and reducing pollution caused during transportation of materials.
Manufacturing of building materials:
Ecological, renewable and recyclable raw materials are used in the construction of building materials. By doing so, natural resources are saved and circular economy is promoted.
An increasingly important role is played not only by the raw materials being used, but also the product manufacturing process itself. The manufacturing process has to be as friendly to the environment as possible. For example, by reducing consumption of energy during the manufacturing process, also CO2 emissions in the environment are reduced.
All the intended and acquired materials are used rationally and maximally, without creating redundant construction refuse/waste. In its turn, the construction refuse is transported for recycling or otherwise disposed of, using an environmentally friendly method. This also applies to packaging of building materials.
Speaking about construction waste, it is also important that building materials are disposable or self-decompose in the nature at the end of the building life cycle, without causing harm to the environment.
Building life cycle:
According to the basic principles a building is constructed so that it would be friendly to people and the environment throughout its life cycle.
Frequently, construction costs of sustainable buildings are higher than for the widely used cheaper solution; however, the investment pays off in a long-term perspective.
Observing the principles of energy-efficient construction, operation and maintenance costs of buildings are reduced, the value added is raised and the economic indicators of the building life cycle are improved.
BENEFITS OF SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION
Sustainable construction is a way of creating long-term energy-efficient and environmentally friendly buildings, using modern technological solutions and innovative building materials. It is a way of living more ecologically, without giving up the usual amenities and quality standards.
Sustainability brings environmental, economic and public benefits.
Environment: ecosystem preservation, better air and water quality, less waste for burying and burning at landfills, and conservation of natural resources.
Economy: reduced building operation costs, increased value added, support to local producers and economy, improved economic indicators of the building life cycle.
Public: better air quality, increased level of comfort and healthy living conditions, reduced surplus load on the infrastructure, better quality of life.
PROJECT “PAPER – HEMP INSULATION PILOT PRODUCTION” (LIFE PHIPP, LIFE17ENV/LV/000335) IS IMPLEMENTED WITH THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION LIFE PROGRAM AND STATE REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY REPUBLIC OF LATVIA ADMINISTRATION OF LATVIAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION FUND.