Driving a Zero-Carbon Future with Sustainable Construction Materials
Driving a Zero-Carbon Future with Sustainable Construction Materials
Today’s architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) companies are challenged to use sustainable construction materials whenever possible in structure design, building and retrofitting. From deploying sustainable energy systems in “smart” buildings to using recycled materials, the demand for sustainable architecture and compliance with environmental certifications such as LEED is transforming the way AEC companies do business.
According to Construction 21 International, an organization promoting sustainable buildings and cities, solar panels, composite roofing shingles, smart glass windows, and environmentally friendly hemp insulation are just a few of the popular sustainable construction materials emerging in 20221. And this trend toward green architecture is still gaining momentum. A recent analysis by the firm Market Research Future forecasts that the global market for green buildings and eco-friendly infrastructures will grow at 14.3% CAGR between 2020 and 20272.
Green architecture and sustainable construction materials
Sustainable architecture is meant to be in harmony with the natural environment rather than working against it. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere is the main goal of environmental programs to slow down the “greenhouse effect” and its resulting adverse effects of climate change. Architectural and engineering firms are doing their part by designing and building “green architecture” that delivers value not only for the environment, but also for building tenants. Green building consulting firm Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) points out two key ways that the use of sustainable construction materials can reduce carbon footprint3:
Before and during construction: more efficient materials fabrication.
According to SIG, sustainability starts with procuring raw building materials from green suppliers with processes and standards in place to reduce carbon dioxide emissions during materials fabrication and transportation. At the construction site, sustainable construction materials for green architecture enable AEC firms to use more efficient and eco-friendly construction methods to save time and costs.
After construction: green buildings use less energy.
One of the biggest benefits of green architecture is the dramatic reduction in energy use for heating and cooling systems, as well as energy-efficient lighting, appliances, and other building amenities. Not only does reduced energy consumption lower the carbon footprint, but also delivers value to building owners and tenants in terms of lower energy costs for building operations and maintenance.
Staying focused on sustainability for a zero-carbon future
As demand for green architecture escalates and awareness of the benefits of sustainable construction materials grows, AEC firms must be ready to respond to the market with sustainable architecture principles. The following statistics from research group Statista illustrate that the focus on smart, green buildings will continue to drive a zero-carbon future4:
• Smart green buildings sales in the US have risen to $4.3 billion in 2020 from just $1.3 billion in 2016.
• 17.2% of green buildings in the US are owned by the educational sector.
• The largest share of the U.S. green building market is the commercial office sector at 21.2% and growing.
Moreover, organizations such as the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and New Wave Plastics are bringing AEC firms and other businesses together to promote the use of sustainable construction materials and recycled plastics to reduce the damaging impact on global forests and other life-sustaining ecological systems, including the reduction of ocean-based plastics pollution. New Wave, for example, is working with a consortium of companies in multiple industries to reach a goal to divert a minimum of 25,000 metric tons of plastic – equal to 1.2 billion single-use plastic water bottles – from entering the ocean.
In addition to recycled and recyclable materials, the growing marketplace for a wide range of sustainable construction materials that are also aesthetically appealing is supporting the green architecture trend. Here are five of the sustainable materials that are most sought-after in 2022, according to Construction 21 International:
• Solar panels reduce power bills and provide renewable energy.
• Smart glass window provide eco-friendly natural light while reducing electricity costs.
• Composite roofing shingles require less maintenance and offer a natural, sustainable option.
• Bamboo floors are aesthetically pleasing like traditional wood flooring, but its low harvest recycle time versus 25 years for trees help to conserve global forests.
• Environmentally friendly insulation uses sustainable natural hemp that provides the same insulation without the potentially toxic fillers in cellulose or fiberglass.
Statistics reported by the USGBC5 confirm that all of these sustainable architecture principles and sustainable materials are paying off in terms of waste reduction and the health and well-being of building tenants. For example, sustainable construction projects following LEED green rating system principles keep more than 80 million tons of construction waste out of landfills – and projected to grow to 540 million tons by 2030. Additionally, USGBC’s public opinion research has shown that employees in green buildings are happier, more productive, and experience less absenteeism due to illness caused by poor indoor air quality.
An eco-friendly, sustainable design for large format printers
Sustainable architecture principles can start with sustainable printing practices in the AEC office. For example, some AEC companies make digital images of drawings and blueprints available in the cloud in an effort to reduce waste and operational costs. But they are still no substitute for precisely drawn, accurately detailed printed blueprints in the hands of AEC professionals and their clients. That’s why AEC firms need highly accurate large format printers with a sustainable design that support eco-friendly office printing through recycling, indoor air quality, waste reduction, and more.
Sustainable construction materials for printer hardware, ink, and paper products are being incorporated in the design and manufacturing of large format printers. Using recycled materials in printers and accessories is keeping millions of ink cartridges and other plastic waste out of landfills. In some cases, this recycled plastic can be incorporated into manufacturing new printer parts and recyclable toner cartridges. Choosing a large format printer with sustainable construction materials, such as wood paneling and some recycled plastic can go a long way to supporting an AEC firm’s goals of achieving a net carbon footprint without sacrificing speed, reliability and precision. Printers with energy efficient features can also help sustainability goals and reduce energy costs, as well as extend the life of the printer.
HP is dedicated to supporting our customers in achieving a zero-carbon future by using sustainable construction materials for the design and manufacture of HP large format printers and products. To learn more about HP’s continuing sustainability goals, download the “HP 2020 Sustainable Impact Report” and other reports at https://www.hp.com/us-en/hp-information/sustainable-impact/document-reports.html
1“Sustainable Building Materials to Look for in 2022” by Chris Jackson. https://www.construction21.org/articles/h/sustainable-building-materials-to-look-for-in-2022.html)
2 Green Buildings Market to grow at 14.3% CAGR by 2027 | Market Research Future Report (MRFR), May 19, 2021, https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/05/19/2232352/0/en/Green-Buildings-Market-to-grow-at-14-3-CAGR-by-2027-Market-Research-Future-MRFR.html
3How Green Buildings Reduce Carbon Dioxide, https://sigearth.com/how-green-buildings-reduce-carbon-dioxide/
4Green Buildings in the U.S. – Statistics and Facts, Statista, https://www.statista.com/topics/1169/green-buildings-in-the-us/
5Benefits of Green Building, United States Green Building Council (USGBC), https://www.usgbc.org/press/benefits-of-green-building
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