Over the past few decades, consumers in the building and hardware industry have become more and more insistent on greener construction. From solar powered to eco-friendly materials, the building and hardware industry have had to make many changes in order to ensure their footprint is both ethical and sustainable. The industry at large is really beginning to understand that ‘going green’ is not only necessary but also has big benefits, resulting in a resurgence of old materials and new innovations in the field. So here are some ideas to help your building and hardware business appeal to the conscious consumer and move with the times.
But first, why is it so important to find green alternatives in the building and hardware industry?
This industry at large has an enormous impact on the planet: It is not only responsible for society’s physical growth, but it finds itself in our businesses, our homes and effects our natural resources. Worldwide the building and hardware industry accounts for 40% of energy production, 30-40% of solid waste and a high CO2 output. Meaning that alternative building materials are way more than just a “nice to have”.
Green roofing and facades is both an aesthetic option and a sustainable one. This is where a roof or building façade is planted with greenery. This has many benefits beginning with helping the buildings blend with the environment and maximise their use of space. In this way, it also improves the building long term economic sustainability.
Modular building methods is when building takes place off-site, allowing for quick on-site construction and fewer raw materials to be used. This can be done without compromising on quality, results in fewer interruptions in production and allows for less man-power on site.
The products used in the building and hardware form the bedrock of the industry, which impacts on both a private and public level. If the manufacturing processes can adapt, it will immediately create greener conditions. This begins with using sustainable materials on both a retail and wholesale level. Below are some examples of these innovations:
This is a breathable, airtight and highly flexible product that combines lime, hemp fibre and water which is then moulded into lightweight blocks. The great thing about this product is that (not only) is it free from toxins, mould and pests but it can also be replenished and grown in a relatively short amount of time. It also boasts very good carbon capturing properties and around 165 kilos of carbon can be locked in through the manufacturing of a 1m³ of hempcrete wall. This product is already being used overseas and is also being explored in South Africa.
This is not a stand-alone material but rather refers to a home building company called ‘Ecomo’. This company specializes in sustainably built, pre-fabricated homes. The company creates these homes in a Cape Town based factory using low maintenance materials. These homes can then be arranged against any backdrop, in any configuration, with minimal waste and damage.
This is a way to counteract the damage that discarded plastic does to the environment. For example in South Africa, companies like ‘Primwood products’, are converting plastic waste into many products with a wood-like quality. Including planks, decking, chairs, benches, bridges and bins.
The bottom line
The world is beginning to understand that green building is not simply a nice to have, but is an environmental necessity as well as the right thing to do. The construction and hardware industry bears a huge responsibility here, but luckily there are ways to think green, and the industry is filled with companies who are already capitalizing on this shift in thinking. Remember that this industry is where building and innovation begins, so the possibilities and economic gains are truly endless.
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