Everyone wants to have a place that they can call home. That’s 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. All to cover the ever-expanding demand of the market.
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. I mean much more than transportation but buildings have a tendency to impact the environment on multiple levels. That’s throughout their five life stages:
Unsurprisingly, taking raw materials out of the ground. It has also always been problematic. Despite being considerably safer than in the past, many modern extraction techniques still have a detrimental effect. Especially on the surrounding environment and can negatively impact local communities. That’s for decades after the initial exploitation is completed.
This is the stage when the raw resources are mixed and turned into building materials. Numerous chemical and mechanical processes are employed. Also some of which leave behind a considerable trail of by-products and pollution.
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. However still quite a bit of waste and energy use.
If everything goes well, at the end of stage three one should have a functional building. All ready to be occupied at the earliest. Buildings nowadays are designed to last decades if not centuries. That’s during which their environmental impact remains at a steady level. I mean with occasional repairs and maintenance also contributing to the building’s energy use.
No matter how well-designed and constructed, every finished building has a lifespan. Especially after which the demolition stage follows. As waste-disposal problems increase worldwide. So 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. As well as 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.