Sustainability Issues within Residential Construction
Sustainability Issues within Residential Construction
Residential construction entails building and disposing of individual and multi-dwellings, while a residential building is any property that supports living in more than half of the floor area. In most countries, local authorities or governments regulate construction methods by providing planning permissions for new buildings. The construction sector is crucial for any economy, contributing significantly to the GDP. Therefore, governments’ contracts with private entities to develop infrastructure related to education, health, and transport, and also ensure sustainability to mitigate harmful effects and the depletion of the available resources.
Sustainability in building developments is a complicated topic that designers must consider from the initial phases as it offers considerable environmental impacts. The building and construction sector accounts for 10% of material dumped at disposal sites and later sent directly to landfills without recycling. Residential and non-residential dwellings provide for 40% of total carbon emissions, mostly resulting from space heating and the provision of hot water (Shan, Hwang, & Zhu, 2017). The demolition and construction of buildings also contribute to almost 30% of landfill waste. All these activities offer a commitment to destroy or consume resources, which explains the need for sustainability in residential construction.
Approximately 3 million Americans reside in houses critical physical problems, and an extra 5 million live in homes with moderate issues. Experts regard responsibility for social determinants of health as the primary scope outside health agencies (Thaheem, 2016). The public health community has learned from experience and understands the importance of housing as a contributor to health, especially regarding the quality and accessibility of residential dwelling. Recent research has also linked unsustainable construction to health concerns from injuries, psychological conditions, chronic diseases, and infectious ailments.
Characteristics of substandard residential construction include the lack of hot water for cleaning, inadequate waste disposal, lack of food storage mechanisms, and encroachment by animals such as rats. The other significant factor is the absence of safe drinking water, which results from crowding (Thaheem, 2016). The risk to bodily harm arises from burns and falls, and defective housing contributes to this concern through poorly designed stairs, slippery floors, exposed heating sources, and unprotected upper-story windows. Also, the existence of chronic diseases arises from moldy, cold, and damp housing, resulting from inadequate ventilation and overcrowding.
In most cases, the overall evaluation of what constitutes a sustainable building begins with measuring its cost over-time. The importance of conducting life cycle costing is that it reduces lifetime costs in residential construction, which is beneficial for builders and tenants. Experts usually perform life cycle costing and the analysis of risk at the start and during each phase of development to pinpoint, measure, and respond to hazards in future residential places (Shan, Hwang, & Zhu, 2017). One of the uncertainties is accumulating higher future expenses arising from the occupancy or usage of the facility. The solution is to analyze the building structure and its ventilation system to offer comfortable accommodation.
A sustainable building also meets the fundamental needs of the occupants regarding comfortability, functionality, aesthetics, and structural ability. Lately, the decisions concerning the choice of construction materials and technology depend on environmental considerations and not economic attitudes. Therefore, life cycle cost aspects determine whether a building is ready for occupancy by providing fewer impacts on people and the environment. Residences with sustainable energy accommodate future human needs, hence, cost less to maintain over time since they reduce the health concerns linked to poor housing.
For contractors, methods of saving time and materials can lead to increased revenue. Mitigating health and environmental hazards associated with residential construction seek to deliver a higher degree of comfort and functionality desired by the residents (Shan, Hwang, & Zhu, 2017). The first example of sustainable development in residential houses is drain-water heat recovery that operates well with all available models of water heaters, particularly with solar water and demand heaters. The heat exchangers in this appliance can extract warmth from the hot water used in dishwashers, clothes washers, sinks, bathtubs, and showers.
The second example is synthetic roof underlayment, which is an idea borrowed from green roofs. While the latter involves the use of plants, synthetic roof underlayment is an innovation that uses roofing felt to reduce cooling and heating costs (Hussain & Kamal, 2015). The procedure previously entailed using asphalt-based materials that break down relatively quickly. Currently, synthetic roof underlayment offers an alternative that can withstand the tear and wear of an exterior environment and weighs less. The advantage with this method is that the material uses a polymer that comes with recycled scrap materials, and also eliminates VOCs from the layer.
The construction sector is crucial for any economy, and its infrastructure has a connection to transport, health, and education. Ensuring sustainability in this industry helps mitigate harmful effects on the environment or deplete the available resources. Substandard residential construction includes the absence of safe drinking water, deficient food storage mechanisms, lack of hot water for cleaning, and ineffective waste disposal, which pose significant health concerns to residents. The solution is to adopt sustainable construction practices, which include synthetic roof underlayment, green roofing, and drain-water heat recovery.
Ahmad, T., & Thaheem, M. J. (2017). Developing a residential building-related social sustainability assessment framework and its implications for BIM. Sustainable cities and society, 28, 1-15.
Hussain, A., & Kamal, M. A. (2015). Energy-efficient sustainable building materials: an overview. In Key Engineering Materials (Vol. 650, pp. 38-50). Trans Tech Publications Ltd.
Shan, M., Hwang, B. G., & Zhu, L. (2017). A global review of sustainable construction project financing: policies, practices, and research efforts. Sustainability, 9(12), 2347.
Thaheem, T. A., M. J. (2016). Developing a residential building-related social. Safety, 65(35.34), 242-18.