Construction latest: Saving green by going green

There has been a real push for energy-efficient construction over recent years, not just because it can achieve a tight-envelope, but because it is can be hugely cost-effective and long-lasting. This isn’t just during the construction stages, but also in the conversation of energy during the building’s lifetime.

To put it simply, choosing the right materials can make heating and cooling a property a lot more efficient, so much so that any costs are usually recouped within several years.

Of course, the secret to success on this front is choosing the most energy-efficient materials out there, which is exactly what we are going to educate you on. Now, go forth and build lean and green.

Vacuum insulation

These panels look like something you would see in an old NASA documentary, which probably has something to do with their silver and rectangular aesthetics. However, before you take the mick, it is worth pointing out that these panels can provide seven times as much insulation as more traditional materials. The only real hiccup is the fact they are only available at commercial levels right now, while their fragility is another area of concern. That said, these could well be the future of residential construction.

Low-E windows

The E stands for ‘emissivity’ on this occasion, but it could just as easily be replaced by ‘epic’ or ‘excellence’. The reason we are celebrating the invention of Low-E windows is the clear coating of metallic oxide that is used on the glass, ensuring the heat is retained during the winter and reflected during the summer. The downside is the upfront cost. They are about 15 per cent more expensive. However, they reduce the heat flow by 50% and overall heating costs by 20%, which is a pretty good trade-off.

Thermoplastic roofing

This technology is nothing new. In fact, it has been used for over thirty years. However, the technology used to make TPO roofing has only gotten better. The way it works is through co-polymerized rubber that allows a much-improved flexibility in colder climates. The reason it makes our list, though, is because it’s cost-effective to produce and recyclable, making it ultra-green. In fact, it has achieved an Energy Star rating.

Plastic composite timber

You go through all that effort to recycle your plastic bags, but have you ever wondered where they end up? Well, it could be they show up in your next property investment, whether that be the decking in your backyard or the local playground. This isn’t just about recycling and being good to the environment, though. It has a lot to do with how 50-50 combinations of wood and plastic fibres are a lot more durable and less toxic than treated timber. It is also a lot stronger thanks to the wood fibres. We’re not done quite yet, though. The other benefits include it being more resistant to forms of rot, while also being tougher during colder months and more flexible in the summer heat. It may be more expensive upfront, but in terms of longevity, well, it doesn’t get much better.

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