Most people these days have begun to realize the importance of cutting down on waste creation for the sake of helping the environment. However, one of the largest contributors to environmental waste is one you wouldn’t necessarily expect, and therefore often goes overlooked: construction. Construction projects produce as much as 40% of all American waste.
While not everyone is getting involved with construction on a daily basis, if you’re looking to get involved in real estate or even just buy your first house, you’ll want to do what you can to reduce your environmental impact in the process. Here are some tips you can use to make sure your new construction home is as low-waste as possible. Some of these tips even help you save on energy once the home is built as well.
When designing your project or putting together your overall plan, make sure you take into account what materials you intend to use. While some swaps seem simple and might be easy to ignore, basic exchanges of materials can help you cut costs while saving materials, resulting in less waste.
Four of the most common metals used in the construction industry are: carbon steel, aluminum, copper, and stainless steel.
When selecting materials for your build, aim to use components that let you use only as much as you need while saving any excess, rather than throwing it away. One example of this is in your choice of insulation. Spray foam insulation is an excellent option for this reason; unlike foam boards where scraps are thrown away, spray foam can be saved for later use. Spray foam also can help you save energy later on by cutting monthly AC and heating costs as much as 60%.
Additionally, look for materials that will need to be replaced less frequently once the project is finished. While this might not help reduce waste immediately during construction, it will help cut down on how much waste is created during any processes to repair or replace. For example, consider alternatives to traditional asphalt shingles when constructing a roof. A typical metal roof will last about three to seven times longer than a typical asphalt shingles roof, reducing the overall amount of waste. Additionally, metal roofs can be made of recycled material, further reducing the environmental impact of this necessary building component.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
The old adage of “measure twice, cut once” not only helps your construction project be more efficient; it also helps with reducing waste. The fewer mistakes you make when cutting your materials to size, the less waste you create. This is best practice both for reducing the cost of your build as well as reducing waste. The less material you waste, the less material you’ll have to buy.
Additionally, sizing materials properly and maintaining best practice when building can ensure that your materials remain suitable for reuse. If you ever need to deconstruct the building you’re working on now, making sure everything is properly fitted increases the chances that it can be salvaged and reused in new constructions.
When Buying, Not Building
If you’re planning on buying a new construction home rather than being directly involved with the building process, there are still ways you can keep your environmental footprint relatively small. Make sure to talk to your real estate agent throughout the house hunting process; they’ll likely have information about how the building process went or is currently going that might be important to you and your environmental concerns. In fact, 78% of recent buyers found their real estate agent to be a very useful information source. Make sure you use the resources you have available to you to make the most informed decisions possible.
While most people don’t worry about the environmental impact of their construction and building choices on a day-to-day basis, paying attention to how much waste your creating can not only help the environment, but it can help you save money in the long-run.