An Eco-building is a building which has been designed to minimise its impact on the environment. This can be achieved in many ways;
Sustainability of the materials it is constructed fromEnergy EfficiencyImpact on the environment in the event of demolition of the building
Sustainability of Materials
An eco-building should be constructed from materials which are demonstrably responsibly sourced and, if possible, renewable. So we need to think about where the materials have come from and if they can be replaced.
Certain materials traditionally used, such as stone are clearly naturally occurring - but not immediately renewable - and have an obvious impact on the environment when extracted.
Bricks are made from naturally occurring clay, but again have an obvious impact during extraction of the clay and a less widely known impact through the bi-product of fluorine which is a highly reactive element that is dangerous to humans.
Many options- but the only truly sustainable, renewable and natural construction material is timber. Timber has been used in construction for centuries and ancient timber buildings can be found throughout the world: particularly in Scandinavian countries.
By using timber in your green building, not just in the frame of the building, but for the internal and external walls as well you can be confident in a truly sustainable building envelope.
Look for FSC and PEFC certification to confirm sustainable sourcing.
As the cost of energy increases and potential for shortages in the future grows, an eco-building will ensure that energy use is minimised in order to reduce ongoing costs and, if possible, dependency.
High levels of insulation are a must: the "U" values of your new building should be checked to ensure that lost energy is being minimised. The "U" values will often be shown against different elements of the building such as windows, flooring cassette or walls. Make sure that there are no weak spots. If you have selected a wooden building such as MPL (Machine Profile Log) then low "U" values such as 0.16W/m²K for the roof and windows potentially as low as 1.0W/m²K will be an obvious attraction.
Good natural light has multiple benefits: financially it will help reduce energy bills, however, more important are the personal benefits as sunlight not only improves mood but general health and well-being and is even proven to kill germs within the furniture and building. Your eco-building should give opportunities for sun-tubes and roof lights to help increase the natural light especially in corridors.
Ventilation is also an important consideration in your new eco-building. Avoid expensive cooling systems and ensure that there is adequate passive ventilation. Such simple options as opening windows and electronically operated roof lights can help to ensure that there is good air-flow. Make a good choice of sustainable materials ie timber log walling: wood is able to better regulate humidity than artificial materials and does not retain any electro-static charge. This is of benefit in particular to allergy sufferers which account for approximately 1:4 of the population.
Don't forget - insulation works both ways keeping summer heat out as well as winter heat in!
Impact on the environment after demolition
Depending on the choice of sustainable building the lifespan will vary. An MPL wooden building will typically last well in excess of 80 years. The larch cladding alone will last 60 - 80 years without treatment. Eventually, almost all buildings come to an end of their natural life, whether through degradation of materials of advances in construction and design making them obsolete. You need to make sure that your new eco-building will not be a burden to the next generation.
Check to see that the materials offer a sensible option for re-cycling. Brick and block can be crushed for hardcore on other building projects - but this tends to only happen on larger sites, otherwise it is potential landfill as it is expensive to transport. Steel and glass can be re-cycled and re-made but it is likely to be only a small element of the construction. Plaster from demolition almost always ends up in landfill. Timber is 100% recyclable and at the very least will always be in demand for fuel: which is a growing market and certain to be required even when the building itself is no longer.
When looking for an eco-building, look for a timber building. Timber is the only natural construction product which is traditional, sustainable and renewable. An MPL timber buildings from Cabinco are energy efficient, ecological and economic.