Environmental Impact of Buildings

Everyone wants to have a place that they can call home, which is why homeownership will never truly go out of style. As the global population grows, there will also be a continuous need for more and more housing units to cover the ever-expanding demand of the market.
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That being said, the environmental impact of all these buildings cannot be overstated. In fact, man made structures account for 40% of worldwide energy use, much more than transportation, for example. They also have a tendency to impact the environment on multiple levels throughout their five life stages:

1. Mining/harvesting/extraction
Unsurprisingly, taking raw materials out of the ground has always been problematic. Despite being considerably safer than in the past, many modern extraction techniques still have a detrimental effect on the surrounding environment and can negatively impact local communities decades after the initial exploitation is completed.

2. Manufacture
This is the stage when the raw resources are mixed and turned into building materials. Numerous chemical and mechanical processes are employed, some of which leave behind a considerable trail of by-products and pollution.

3. Construction
After everything is ready, this is the part where the actual building gets erected from the ground up. Less negative environmental impact than in the two previous stages, but still quite a bit of waste and energy use.
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4. Use
If everything goes well, at the end of stage three one should have a functional building, ready to be occupied at the earliest. Buildings nowadays are designed to last decades if not centuries, during which their environmental impact remains at a steady level, with occasional repairs and maintenance also contributing to the building’s energy use.

5. Demolition
No matter how well-designed and constructed, every finished building has a lifespan, after which the demolition stage follows. As waste-disposal problems increase worldwide, the problem of where exactly to safely store the remnants of a building becomes that much more hard to solve.
As you can see, a building never really stops consuming energy and influencing the environment during its existence. However, since nobody is really keen to go back to living in caves, the question becomes just how well can we improve our building standards in order to limit their negative aspects.

Recently, the LEED green building standard has aimed to do just that. As created by a vast network of architects, designers, developers and planners, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification that recognizes sustainable building practices. Their ultimate goal is to lead the construction industry towards a new set of standards, ones that prize having a substantially lower carbon footprint. From water consumption to material use to employee commuting, LEED has created benchmarks for each issue that has been proven to have a definite effect on climate change.
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But by far the most important decision you can make as a budding homeowner or entrepreneur is what type of building you’d like to use for your goals. Of course, you always have the option of renting a place, but that tends to hemorrhage money over time. But if you do decide on buying your own place, then chances are that you’ll want to start anew. Instead of opting for a traditional apartment or house, why not instead go the pioneer route and consider the idea of starting from actual scratch?
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Besides green buildings, steel kit homes are growing ever popular these days. Due to their structural integrity, quick construction times and considerable affordability, quality steel kit homes are a great alternative to traditional housing. What’s more, the fact that steel can easily be reused time and time again makes it one of the most environmentally-friendly substances on the planet. Featuring lightweight components that are easy to handle and work with, the steel kit homes of today are as uncomplicated to assemble as they are comfortable to live in. image

And, with property values on the rise again, erecting your own building is an easy and affordable way to get your foot in the prosperous housing market of today.

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All in all, the issue of making environmentally friendly decisions when it comes to all aspects of life will continue to be of great importance as mankind edges further into the 21st century. Luckily, as more and more people start understanding the magnitude of the problem as well as the need for genuine measures to prevent significant environmental damage, the global fight for change will get closer to becoming a reality.