Sustainable construction reduces the consumption of non-renewable resources, promotes the use of renewable energy sources, minimizes waste, creates healthier and more rational spaces for living and working, and protects the environment
The great migration of populations to all the major cities of the world, including ours, primarily Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis and Kragujevac, has led to their accelerated expansion and the development of housing. Unfortunately, this growth has a huge impact on the environment, largely negative, because developing the urban habitat requires a huge consumption of natural resources. New buildings have an impact on the environment through a large number of processes (production of building materials, transport, construction, installation of materials…) that can cause environmental damage. Also in the course of the building itself, the site produces waste and noise which also have a great impact on the environment.
The urban environment restricts freedom of positioning in relation to natural resources, but on the other hand, existing infrastructure facilitates supplies to construction sites and buildings; outside the city this infrastructure would have to be planned and built, affecting the environment.
Unfortunately, natural resources are not unlimited, nor are they easy to replenish. For that reason, the World Commission on Environment and Development introduced the concept of sustainable development back in 1987. It defines this as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
When this complex concept is applied to construction and architecture, the goal is to minimize the negative impact on the environment, energy consumption, and the use of human resources. Sustainable building is reflected in the materials used to erect the building, the construction methods, the resources expended and the design in general. Although new facilities built in accordance with the principles of sustainable construction are expected to be functional and aesthetically superior, it is also important to achieve long-term energy efficiency.
Sustainable construction reduces energy consumption in all phases of the life cycle of a building, from concept and construction to final exploitation, making new and newly renovated buildings cheaper to maintain and live in, and more suitable for the environment. This way of building also helps the building’s users, whether of a residential or business building, to more efficiently use energy sources that are becoming more expensive and less accessible.
The concept of sustainable building is based on five eco-principles – smart design, use of environmentally friendly materials, energy efficiency, rational water consumption and environmental protection.
In the area of smart design, it is important to choose a good location, a place exposed to the sun and protected from strong winds, because this reduces heating costs, i.e. energy consumption, whether it is electricity, gas or oil … Simply put, the goal is to design buildings that use as little energy as possible. To reduce the consumption of electricity for the operation of cooling devices during the summer, you should choose thermostable or triple glass on the windows, devices that provide shade and natural cooling, advanced insulation materials in the walls, surround the building with greenery…
Sustainable buildings often have “living walls”, roof gardens with flowers, lots of plants, trees and shrubs watered with rainwater collected in tanks instead of gutters that empty into the drains.
The principle of sustainable building puts the use of ecological materials in a high second place, at the very top of the list of priorities, to draw attention to nature protection. We must use high quality, environmentally friendly materials with specific performance characteristics. This means long-lasting or easily renewable materials, recycled materials or those that can be easily recycled themselves. Ecological materials also include wood from sustainable sources, alternatives to cement whose production creates lower emissions of carbon dioxide and building elements that have been professionally removed from demolished buildings.
The principle of sustainable building puts the use of ecological materials at the very top of the priority list to draw attention to nature protection
There are many smart and simple ways to make a building energy efficient, especially with individual housing because it is possible to make a house with zero electricity consumption. Energy efficiency means taking into account the consumption of energy for heating, cooling, lighting, operating machines and small household appliances,… Energy monitoring systems and solar collectors are introduced and alternative energy sources are used. Sustainable buildings are increasingly turning to the use of energy from solar panels on roofs, and around the world local windmills, geothermal pumps and various other sources are already being used.
Although every living thing on the planet depends on clean, unpolluted, healthy water, we take this very limited resource for granted. The tap should not be turned off only while brushing your teeth, water should be stored as much as possible. Although Serbia has over 400 sources of drinking water, climate change and rising global temperatures can lead to a shortage of drinking water. That this is a realistic risk can be seen in the fact that in the past 20 years, the flow of water through Serbia has dropped by 20 percent and that its quality has deteriorated, as shown by an analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency.
For this reason, the principles of sustainable construction require that in the design devices should be provided that reduce water consumption, enable its reuse, and in certain cases use atmospheric water.
A healthy environment is one of the most important eco-principles and should be protected because the natural resources that make up air, water, land, forests, geological resources, flora and fauna are not inexhaustible and eternal. To have successful and healthy communities, we must have clean air, sufficiently clean and healthy water, natural resources and a non-toxic environment.
Setting up a strong waste disposal plan at the beginning of a project will ensure that nothing will be left over that should not be. Following this advice will lead to a more responsible, environmentally friendly project in practically every respect. That is why you should always keep in mind that sustainable building is not only good for the environment, although that is a fantastic reason for adopting sustainable practices. It means saving resources and using recycled and renewable materials, while the use of sustainable materials is also beneficial for people’s overall health.
When the works are completed, the focus should be on restoring the site as close as possible to its original condition. Besides dismantling all scaffolding, removing machines and tools, and cleaning up the remains of construction materials, it may be necessary to replace the top layer of soil and sow it with indigenous vegetation.