What is sustainable construction? A little bit of history

The sustainable or green building is an essential tool against the climate crisis. It considers the complete process to obtain efficient and environmentally friendly buildings and cities. We must not lose sight of the fact that buildings are a responsible for between 20 and 50% of the consumption of natural resources, as well as a percentage of close to 40% of the emissions of cities.

 

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The concept of sustainable construction

This way of building is based on the proper use and management of natural resources and energy. It involves a responsible choice of materials and construction processes, but also refers to urban development, planning and usability of buildings, social progress and poverty eradication. It takes into account the entire life cycle of buildings, from obtaining raw materials to design, construction itself and waste management.

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The Story

The consequences of industrial development for the planet were already identified in the 1970s. The idea of "ecodevelopment" began to be used. The oil crisis of 1973 was a turning point, from which the need to consider the energy model began to be taken into account. At this time, the first criticisms of the "use and throw away" system also arose.

It was not until the eighties that the term "sustainable development" was used, coined by the UN. In 1987 the Brundtland Report was published, in which the need for development that does not compromise the living conditions of future generations was addressed. During these years, the Passivhaus standard appeared in Germany, which spread throughout Europe in the following years and reached America at the beginning of the century. Its regulations establish the techniques and processes necessary to obtain construction products with up to 80% less energy consumption. In 1990 the first passive building was built in Darmstadt, Germany.

From the 1990s onwards, investment in R&D has not ceased in order to experiment with alternative energy sources to fossil fuels, new materials and increased energy efficiency. With the Kyoto Protocol, economic growth is aligned with sustainability in the context of sustainable development. Among the guidelines proposed for this purpose are recommendations for the construction sector, which is closely linked to economic development.

 

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The basic principles of sustainable construction: Bio-construction is the trend to build Nearly Zero Consumption Buildings (NCCB) and architecture with green criteria aimed to build healthy buildings, with ecological materials and using renewable energies.

In order to build in a sustainable way, it is key to consider the reduction of energy consumption, among other guidelines. Thus, it must be taken into account both throughout the construction process and in the life cycle of the building:

  • The choice of the location of the building with environmental and sustainable criteria.
  • The optimization of the use of energy and materials, especially water.
  • Responsible management of resources, use of recyclables and commitment to reuse.
  • Reduction of energy use.
  • Correct management of waste and emissions.
  • The creation of a comfortable and healthy interior
  • Optimization of maintenance.
To achieve optimum thermal insulation it is essential to control leaks, eliminate thermal bridges, to have controlled ventilation with heat recovery and total airtightness.

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