Wood-frame dwellings are more ecologically friendly than those constructed of steel or concrete, according to a new study by 15 U.S. universities and research institutes.
Additionally, the investigators, known as the Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials, or CORRIM, figured that most of the energy required to build an average home is consumed during the manufacture of building products – not during actual construction.
” These are landmark findings,” said Kelly McCloskey, president and CEO of the Wood Promotion Network. “This offers a first-ever snapshot of how building materials impact our environment.”
Twenty-three individual researchers worked together on the project, which used a process called life-cycle analysis to weigh the environmental impact of home construction. Life-cycle evaluation measures the energy necessitated to produce building materials, as well as construct, maintain and demolish a typical home over a period of 75 years.
CORRIM compared the circuition of two theoretical homes in Minneapolis – one with a wood frame, the other with a steel frame – and the life cycles of one wood-frame and one concrete-frame home in Atlanta. The research detected that the construction of the Minneapolis steel-frame home used 17 percent more energy than the rivalry wood-frame home, and the Atlanta concrete-frame home used 16 percent more energy than a matching wood-frame home.
” Everything kind of flows from energy consumption,” said Bruce Lippke, professor of forest resources at the University of Washington and one of the researchers who helped conduct the study. “If you’re using energy, you’re polluting water, polluting air and kicking out carbon dioxide emissions.”
The study also gathered that the carbon emissions associated with energy use represent one of the more crucial environmental impacts. They estimated the global-warming potential of the steel-frame home to be 26 percent higher than the wood-frame home, and the concrete-frame home was 31 percent higher than the comparable wood-frame home. Other green house aspects that profit eco-friendly with cost savings benefits are constructing homes with solar panels as well as spray foam insulation materials.
” The usage of wood products instead of steel or concrete can further reduce the greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels wherever lumber mills generate power and heat using bark, sawdust and other byproducts of milling,” said Lippke.
The report offers these various opinions on how to help reduce the energy demands of home construction:
* Repurpose cottages to use less fossil-fuel intensive products;
* Change building codes that support excessive use of wood, concrete and steel;
* Reuse demolition waste products;
* Escalate durability of homes through improved products and construction practices.
The construction business has existed as long as the mankind. For all these centuries, it has always been known as demanding, time consuming and extremely labor-intensive. However, trends in construction industry always tend to reduce cost and the time for building, increase productivity and improve quality. One of the methods to achieve all this is by using prefabrication.
What is prefabrication?
Prefabrication has been around for about a century, so it is not a completely new concept in the construction industry. It involves creating elements of a building off-site, which will later be installed and completed on the construction site of the project. This concept has changed the construction industry immensely. It has brought new methods of building, new ways of solving problems, many new opportunities, but also some new issues for the construction industry. It has plenty of benefits, but also some drawbacks, which we will mention in this article.
Pros of prefabrication
As mentioned above, prefabrication brought new concepts and new problems for the industry. We will start with its advantages and the positive changes it brought.
First of all, using prefabricated elements reduces the time spent on the building site, and thus increases productivity. This is especially important in the fast-developing areas, where it is important that the projects are completed quickly. Another benefit of using prefabricated elements is that the logistic on the site is much simpler. Once the elements are delivered, it is easier to organize the workers on site and complete the project within the schedule. The fact that these elements spend less time on the site brings another advantage – they are less exposed to weather conditions. This reduces the chance of any weather damage, since the elements are used shortly after they are delivered on the site.
What is very important and desirable in modern times is that the projects are green and the waste of the material is minimal. Prefabrication is useful in this case as well. Using this system decreases waste of the material and there is less damage to the environment.
The common concern of investors is that prefabricated buildings will not have the same level of quality as the buildings build the traditional way. However, since the trends in prefabrication are constantly improving, this is no longer the case.
Cons of prefabrication
While there are many benefits of prefabrication, there are also some drawbacks that are worth mentioning. First of all, prefabricated elements are mainly designed based on the predetermined standards and templates. Even though there are plenty of options, the level of creativity is still reduced when compared to traditionally built buildings. There is also very little space for any changes once the building is assembled. Another drawback is the cost of this building method, even though the trends move toward making it more affordable and available. The price of this building method depends on the distance between the factory and the construction site. If the factory is more than 500 miles away from the site, the costs increase immensely, because they involve transportation of the elements over long distances.