Why Going Green is the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Community

As we go about our daily lives, it’s always a good idea to think about how we can contribute to the community we belong to in tangible and appreciable ways. Improving our communities from the inside not only allows us to make things easier and more convenient for ourselves, but also for the people we meet and rely upon in our day-to-day. Besides this, it also helps us think of other people’s needs rather than just our own—an essential need if we’re to live happy and productive lives. One of the best ways of improving our communities is, of course, going green: the act of adopting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. This means taking active steps to minimize our carbon footprint and reducing waste.

It doesn’t have to start out big—we can start with the smaller things, and work our way up from there. Instead of buying new printer ink cartridges, for example, we can try using compatible ink cartridges instead. These are ink cartridges that are made the same way as new printer ink cartridges, but cost way less to make than branded ones. Instead of throwing away our old or obsolete electronics and electrical goods, we can look into getting them repaired. Another example of that is to refurbish old drones instead of buying new.

By taking up these eco-friendly practices, our communities will become cleaner, more energy-efficient, and much healthier places to live in, alongside other very practical and tangible benefits that everyone will appreciate.

Not convinced? Well, hopefully listing out those benefits in full below will convince you. Read on as we go through all the biggest reasons why going green is the best thing you can do for your community.

A healthier community

Enacting green and eco-friendly practices in your community will have the immediate effect of making it healthier for the individuals who live in it, enabling them to live longer, happier, and more productive lives. This can be considered as the most important benefit, seeing as we can tie so many health conditions and diseases to having an environmentally-negligent lifestyle. By going green, you can avoid these potential risks from taking hold in your community.

For example, recycling and minimizing trash or garbage helps makes your immediate surroundings cleaner and more attractive to look at. This causes disease-carrying pests such as insects and rodents to be driven away from your community, which then results in less people catching those diseases.

Another example is having the vehicles in your community switch to more eco-friendly fuel types will result in cleaner and healthier air, as well as reduce the chances of children and the elderly from getting respiratory diseases. Many companies like popgear use recycled material in their clothing. These and a whole lot more are attainable by going green.

Savings on utility bills and other expenses

One of the main tenets of going green is to be conservative when it comes to the usage of utilities, such as electricity, gas, water, and so on. It goes without saying that using too much of these obviously strains the environment.

For example, the excessive and unnecessary use of electricity when it’s clearly not needed increases the power demand from power plants, which in turn increases the amount of fuel being used to supply that energy. This uses up our remaining fossil fuels at an alarming rate, while also depositing more pollutants into the atmosphere and environment. The same goes for gas and other utilities.

By being smarter and more conscious about using these precious resources in our homes, we can reduce the impact we have on the environment by quite a large degree. It will help ease the strain our environment is currently experiencing in providing us these resources and ensure that they don’t run out as quickly as they would have if we continued being unnecessarily wasteful with our usage.

Besides this, conserving energy and resources also helps us save on our utility bills. Obviously, the less power, water, and gas we use in our day-to-day, the less we’ll be charged when our monthly bills come in. Up to 20% of expanses per household, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, are saved, especially if we adopt changes such as using solar panels rather than relying on our electrical grid. This is a huge chunk of money no matter how you slice it!

Durable and stronger homes and and structures

Let’s not mince words about it: eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious “green” products are more expensive than the brands that have an easier time fitting into our budget. However, we must consider that the former is also much more durable than the latter, which will inevitably result in a lot of savings in the long run.

This can be seen the most in construction building materials, especially those involved in the building and repair of homes. For example, recycled decking, which is made from recycled plastic and wooden fibers, have been tested to last five times longer than traditional decking.

Bamboo, a self-sustaining perennial grass that can grow up to three feet in 24 hours, is lighter than most building materials and yet has greater compressive strength than brick and concrete. The best part about it is that it grows faster than it can be harvested, meaning that there’s no danger of running out of it anytime soon, no matter how extensively it’s used.

By creating your community’s homes and structures using these eco-friendly materials, you can help save the environment while also ensuring that the homes and shelters will last for as long as they’re needed.

A self-sufficient community

It’s a fact of life that we have to rely on big companies to get us the modern conveniences and essentials we need to get through the day. However, by going green, we can help reduce our reliance on them and become more independent in our lives.

For example, taking the initiative to install solar panels in every home in your community will allow it to become less dependent on the power that companies provide you with electricity. With enough time, your community will be generating enough excess power that the same company will be paying you for that excess. There’s also the fact that if something goes wrong with the power plant, your community won’t be subjected to the same annoying and disruptive blackout that other surrounding neighborhoods will be, as you’ll have enough solar power to last you the entire time.

college-green

Let’s say you’re not quite at that level yet, in terms of going green. How about supporting your local markets rather than your nearby supermarket? By doing so, you ensure that the food-growing sector of your community continues to earn a living while also retaining the ability to keep growing natural and organic produce. Doing so also cuts down on harmful emissions, as you won’t have to travel by car just to get the fresh food you need. Your community retains its independence while helping the environment.

Conclusion

There are many ways to improve one’s community from the inside, with one of the major and more effective ones being able to adopt eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious practices. By doing so, not only does the community benefit hugely in the end in terms of health, sustainability, and independence from big companies, but the environment as well.

Toyin-Ann Yerifor on Passive Houses

Green building concepts have come a long way. As architects, designers, and builders gain access to better tools that help push the limits of construction energy efficiency; we see longer strides made towards more mainstream adoption of green building standards. One such standard that is coming of age is passive houses. The concept of passive houses was first mooted in the early eighties when the idea of green building was still in its infancy. Today, the concept is well entrenched with over 25,000 houses and buildings across the world qualifying as passive houses.

Image Source: https://www.habitechsystems.com.au/passive-house

We recently caught up with Toyin-Ann Yerifor, an architectural consultant focused on exploring new and innovative ways to design with reduced impact on the environment to explain what passive houses are and their benefits. She holds an MSc in Architecture (AEES) from the University of East London, an MBA from the University of Northampton and an MSc in Computer Science and Engineering from the Université Grenoble Alpes.

What is a Passive House?

First, what is a passive house? Toyin-Ann explains: A passive house is any building that adheres to rigorous energy efficiency standards. The term passive comes from the fact that the building’s energy efficiency comes from its passive structures, which include the roof, walls, windows, doors, and floor. By radically improving the building’s insulation and energy conservation features, it is possible to reduce its heating requirements by up to ninety percent. As such, passive housing as a standard is focused on helping reduce the energy requirements of buildings through insulation, and by extension, their overall energy footprint.

When you reduce a building’s energy footprint, says Toyin-Ann, several benefits accrue, including environmental, health, and cost efficiency benefits.

Environmental Benefits of Passive Houses

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “energy efficiency is the first fuel of a sustainable global energy system. It can mitigate climate change, improve energy security, and grow economies while delivering environmental and social benefits.” Passive houses deliver on this mandate superbly, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. One of the biggest challenges traditional buildings face is energy loss. When a building easily loses energy in the form of heat, it takes burning more fuel to heat the building. When this happens, overall energy consumption goes up, which is bad for the environment because a major portion of heat generation comes from burning fossil fuels. When buildings are radically energy efficient, on the other hand, less energy is required, and so fewer fossil fuels need to be burned.

While this is the macro view of the environmental benefits of passive houses, are there any micro benefits of investing in this technology? Here are two, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. First, think of the air quality that comes with less energy consumption. In homes that rely on furnaces, doing away with the furnace improves the air quality in and around the home significantly. Second, sound pollution is eliminated if you no longer need to use a furnace, HVAC units around the home, or any other heat generation and management devices. Essentially, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor, passive houses reduce the need to burden the environment. Through radical energy efficiency and self-sufficiency, passive house buildings become a part of the environment and not just an addition to it.

Health and Comfort Benefits

When most people hear about passive houses, they imagine living in a sealed paper bag. That thought can be quite disheartening because issues of quality of air, air adequacy, and comfort come to mind. Although the idea behind passive houses is energy efficiency through a tightly sealed envelope (building), this does not mean health and comfort are compromised. Take air quality, for instance. Most people consider opening a window the best way to guarantee air quality in a room. Now, passive houses rely on closed windows to ensure no heat escapes, which presents a dilemma. Passive houses address this dilemma well, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor.

Although you can open a window in a passive house, even if you do not, the heat recovery ventilation system ensures there is enough quality air circulating the house. Regarding comfort, passive houses maintain a comfortable temperature regulated by the passive heat sources in the house like appliances, body heat, and lighting. Also, they tend not to have cold spots or hot spots, which is often the case with traditionally heated homes. Through rigorous design standards afforded by tools such as the Passive House Planning Package, homes built on the passive house standard adhere to comfort standards as rigorous as the energy efficiency standards stipulated.

Cost Efficiency Benefits

Cost efficiency is at the heart of the passive house concept. When a building is exceptionally well insulated, it can use as little as 10 percent of its regular heating energy requirements. This, of course, also significantly reduces the costs associated with heating the building. So, how does the passive house concept achieve such a radical reduction in energy needs? The answer is insulation, says Toyin-Ann Yerifor. Passive houses rely on extensive insulation to gain this level of energy efficiency. Why is insulation so effective?

Traditional buildings lose a lot of heat through the roof, walls, floor, doors, and, most of all, windows. With a passive house, each of these structures is carefully designed and built to ensure close to zero loss of heat. When you look at the thermal scan of a passive house next to a traditional house, you’ll notice the passive house is almost entirely blue, meaning there’s close to no energy loss. The other building is close to all red, meaning it is losing a lot of energy. This level of energy conservation and efficiency is what leads to the massive energy savings that make passive houses so cost-efficient.

Passive houses are a concept that is yet to hit mainstream construction. However, this does not mean it is impractical to build passive houses. What it does point to is the need for better awareness of the concept. Toyin-Ann Yerifor recommends anyone interested in the concept to visit a passive house showcase home to experience its benefits firsthand. She says this is the only way to understand and internalize this breakthrough energy efficiency concept.

The Eco Revolution in Property Investment

Many of us are now making more eco-friendly and environmentally conscious decisions every day. Whether it’s taking our own carrier bags to the shops, having a reusable water bottle or recycling your tin cans – little changes are making a big impact. When it comes to property, the eco revolution has increasingly been making waves. From solar panels to energy efficient lightbulbs, our properties are becoming better for the planet. These priorities are also affecting property investment, with an increasing number of tenants looking for eco-friendly essentials in their property.

Eco-friendly homes are becoming increasingly popular with a new environmentally conscious generation starting to look for rental properties. Young professionals who are living in the city are less likely to buy a home than ever before, so are looking for a rental property that meets their exacting requirements. With many of them choosing to make environmentally friendly choices, like going plastic free or cutting down on how much meat they eat, accordingly they are looking for eco-friendly homes too.

Environmental impact is increasingly on the agenda of consumers in every aspect of their lives. Many are also willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly purchases. Research has shown that UK consumers would pay an average 10% more if they were buying something they thought had a positive impact on society. Property investors would be wise to bear this in mind when looking for new property investments. In an increasingly competitive rental market, the ability to raise prices because of eco credentials is a lucrative option for investors.

Furthermore, 40% of consumers think that sustainability is important when they are making a purchase. The impact of this can be seen in the growing number of brands and businesses that are making their environmental commitments obvious to consumers. It is clear that savvy property investors can be both environmentally friendly and business smart when looking to purchase new properties.

In another study, 80% of tenants believed that their landlords should be considering the environment more, and suggested measures like double-glazing, insulation and eco-modifications. These simple measures can make a large impact on the appeal of a property to prospective tenants. Increasing energy prices are another concern for occupants. In addition, 55% of renters asked said they would prefer a rental property with a smart meter if it was the same price. Energy efficient measures are both good for tenant’s monthly costs and for the environment so buy to let property investors can be at an advantage if their property offers these.

As of April 2018, buy to let landlords are legally required to have an EPC rating of E or above in their properties. This means that property investors are increasingly looking at new build properties which are already energy efficient and don’t require costly renovations. Tenants can also legally request that a landlord makes property improvements if the EPC rating is F or G.

Developers are increasingly taking sustainability and environmental impact into consideration when building new properties. Properties with energy efficient specifications, like many by RW Invest  are providing investors with lucrative returns and high tenant demand. Recent changes to regulation mean that new build properties need to be energy efficient and this is making a huge impact on the buy to let market.

The trend towards environmentally conscious properties looks set to continue, with eco-friendly qualities high on the agenda of both potential tenants and investors.

Things to Consider For Your Roofing Project

Getting a new roof can sometimes be a very exciting experience. Your pets and kids can watch what’s going on in awe as they look at the professionals ripping, hauling, tearing and nailing things. They might just even be tempted to once in a while get as close as to the action as they possibly can. However, that’s, of course, extremely dangerous and you should keep careful watch over your children when all this is going on. Anyway, there a lot of things you need to think about before taking on a roofing project. Here in below are a few of them.

  1. Go top shelf

If you don’t want to have roofing as something you need to think about again for a very long while, as well as give your place a few additional selling points when it comes time to move then you might want to consider going for high-quality products.

Selecting the right choice of roofing for your building involves picking the right roofing products. Things like copper flashing should be what’s running through your mind. If you didn’t know, well, it happens to be the most durable metal material used for sealing those joints where a wall meets the roof or a roof meets another roof.

  1. Communication is the Key

Lack of proper communication is what makes most projects fail. This is exactly why you need to always make sure that you’re communicating enough with the contractor you’ve chosen to go with.

If the contractor you’ve chosen is not the type that follows up with you during the project unless you specifically ask them to, then you might want to seriously think again and get one that truly cares about being responsible. Good quality contractors are the ones that keep you updated every step of the way.

  1. Shop around

Some roofing professionals don’t really care much when it comes to customer satisfaction because replacing roofs is often like a once-in-a-decade job or so. This means that they rarely rely on repeat business to keep them going, much less profitable.

Furthermore, most homeowners normally pick their roofers based on price, and a lot of these roofing contractors employ low-wage laborers ensure the lowest possible bids are what they deliver. All in all, be very careful with whom you decide to go with. Get yourself some trusted references from family, friends and neighbors and also check different manufacturers’ websites for certified installer lists.

  1. Play close attention to all the paperwork

Quick jobs like these, which usually takes around two to five days to complete, depending on the roof’s size and style, involve tremendous amounts of money as well as liability. Ensure you understand all the essential documents required for this process to be successfully accomplished. One of the said documents includes the building permit which many towns require if you want to undertake a roofing project.

Your roof is arguably your house’s most important component. Without it can a house really be a house? After all, it’s what keeps the water out of the building during the rain. Even though no one really likes having to replace their roof, the aesthetic and critical function it serves is undeniable and can help reduce the pain you feel when having to spend all that money.

Eco-friendly Benefits of Fiberglass Insulation For Metal Buildings

Fiberglass insulation was first put on the market in 1938, and in all the years since, no alternative has really challenged its preeminent position as the most effective choice for insulation on both commercial and residential construction projects. Fiberglass insulation improves a structure’s energy efficiency, reduces heating and cooling costs, and makes occupants more comfortable. These are just a few of the advantages that make it the insulator of choice, even in the latest eco-friendly projects. Below are  additional benefits of fiberglass insulation:

1) Moisture Resistance

Fiberglass insulation does not absorb or retain water according to www.cyclonebuildings.com who utilise it in some instances. It can still be contaminated or compromised by moisture; insulation that has gotten wet needs to be inspected and dried to ensure that it does not lose its insulating properties.

Wet insulation can be successfully re-installed and deliver its full R-value as intended by the manufacturer so long as installers confirm that the insulation and the area around it in the structure have not been compromised by water.

In order to provide full insulating value, fiberglass insulation requires a vapor barrier. When properly selected and installed, a vapor barrier catches condensation before it can penetrate the building envelope and reach the insulation. The vapor barrier’s perm rating must be appropriate to the structure and the local climate, and it must be sealed into place with a proper adhesive so that it does not leak.

2) Fire Resistance

Fiberglass insulation is inherently non-combustible because the materials from which it is made – sand and/or recycled glass – are non-combustible themselves. Fiberglass insulation does not need to be treated with chemicals to make it fire-resistant, and it does not become any more combustible as it ages.

In many areas, local building codes even allow the use of fiberglass insulation as an effective fire stop in wall assemblies made of wood or steel.

3) Sound Dampening

Fiberglass insulation absorbs sound, and this means it reduces sound transmission through walls, ceilings, floors, and HVAC ducts where it is used. As a general rule of thumb, one inch of fiberglass insulation increases the sound transmission class, or STC, of a building assembly by three or even four points. Additional inches of fiberglass insulation each add two more points to the STC rating.

4) Use Of Recycled Materials

The manufacture of fiberglass insulation has come to rely on incorporating a significant amount of recycled material. Between 1992 and 2000, insulation manufacturers used over 8 billion pounds (3.6 billion kg) of recycled glass from pre and post-consumer sources. Using this material productively saved millions of cubic feet in landfill space.

The total amount of recycled material used in fiberglass insulation varies from brand to brand and product to product, but some products are made with as much as 80 percent recycled glass. Fiberglass insulation also requires the use of silica sand, which is an abundant and naturally-renewing resource.

Bottom Line

Fiberglass insulation remains a highly competitive and attractive insulation option, even when considered according to environmentally-friendly “green” priorities. In the decades it has been used, it has proven time and again to be a reliable and effective material.

Managing Your Business Maintenance Waste

Just 6% of businesses consider their maintenance department to be well established, showing just how little attention companies are paying to this area. As a result, wastage is often high, which eats into profit margins. When an office is refurbished, there will inevitably be some waste created, which the company must pay for. In order to mitigate the damage, business managers should put more attention into their maintenance strategy, acting preventatively rather than reactively. This way, waste will be limited. The resulting waste can then be converted into energy, thus becoming a money maker rather than a drain on resources.

Benefits of Sustainability for Business

Sustainability is really a no-brainer from a business perspective, yet many companies are failing to hit a sustainable level of waste management. US consumers are beginning to care more about a business’s environmental impact over the price of their products, with 67% supporting an end to single-use plastic straws. Not only will restructuring your waste strategy save you money on cleanup, but it will improve the image of your company. In these eco-conscious times, this is essential.

Furthermore, a recent poll by Michigan State University found that 88% of Americans take steps to reduce their food wastage. This shows how high a priority this is for the average customer. If you can target more resources towards sustainable waste management, then you are bound to see increased profits in other areas.

Scheduling and Planning

Cutting waste is all about taking preventative actions rather than reacting to circumstances as they arise. By planning your maintenance ahead of time, it is possible to identify areas where wastage will occur and take steps to avoid this. Work with the most experienced maintenance waste managers for the best results. You are probably already a top planner when it comes to marketing and sales, but are you using these skills when maintenance work needs carrying out?

Before any big construction or renovation project, have an expert identify the quantity of waste that will be produced. You will then be able to schedule in workers to come and remove it immediately, increasing efficiency and lowering costs. It is then up to you to dispose of this waste in a way which is responsible.

Profit From Your Waste

The average business uses between 15,000 and 25,000 kWh per year. This energy has to come from somewhere. Given the amount of waste produced by a typical company, why not put this back into your operation by converting it to energy or transforming it into useful products? This is a win-win situation. You get to carry out the necessary maintenance to keep your business running, while receiving free energy to power your company and promoting an eco-friendly brand image.

Maintenance is an important part of every business, but many managers neglect the cost of waste. Staying on top of your waste management is guaranteed to cut costs and boost profits. Have a waste management schedule in place and use the trash to provide a sustainable energy source as well as useful products.

NatHERS – A Tool To Maximize Sustainability of Your Future Home

Short for the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme, NatHERS uses a 10-star rating system which is able to easily access the thermal performance of buildings within Australia. Though a NatHERS certification is required for all new developments with multiple dwellings, it is essential for all residents to obtain an assessment to be able to easily evaluate the thermal assessment of their development.

At Certified Energy, our years of experience distinguishes us from our competitors. We work with each client separately, to ensure that each individual project thrives in terms of cost, efficiency and the preservation of design concepts.

We strive to minimize your costs whilst maximizing the sustainability of your future home.

Why is NatHERS assessment required?

NatHERS as outlined above is the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme which is able to evaluate the thermal performance of any dwelling. Though this may seem irrelevant and unnecessary when outlining the overall performance of the building, it is a necessity to get a NatHERS assessment in order to ensure a sustainable future for our environment.

Not only this, but NatHERS is essential when obtaining a BASIX assessment. BASIX is a NSW Government initiative striving to improve the environmental sustainability. It comprises of three factors: water, thermal and energy. The thermal component of BASIX can be easily completed through a NatHERS assessment with its thorough, accurate and flexible approach to addressing thermal performance.

Thus, a NatHERS assessment is required not only to contribute towards a sustainable future for the environment but also as a necessity under the BASIX initiative led by the NSW Government.

What does a NatHERS assessment include?

A NatHERS assessment can be obtained by a specialised company that has NatHERS Accredited Software which can be used to determine the thermal efficiency of your home. Within the assessment, each resident will be provided a copy of the key design features and the building materials and the scope used to generate the dwelling’s star rating.

The star rating, also known as the Energy or Thermal Efficiency star rating, is an accurate indicator of the level of heating or cooling your building requires to not only make you feel comfortable, but to ensure that it doesn’t have a detrimental impact on the environment. By following the recommendations and guidelines that will be included in your report, you will also be on the path of having lower energy expenses, by using the appropriate amount of electricity.

How does Certified Energy do it differently?

At Certified Energy, there are two main certification solutions that will help you achieve the lowest cost with the highest efficiency rating. These include the essential solutions (House Energy Rating Scheme, Elemental Provision) or alternative solutions (Verification Using a Reference Building and State Specific Energy Protocols).

In order to give you the best catered advice as per your personal needs, Certified Energy will guide you through the various approval pathways that will help your project achieve energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Why Steel Is An Environmentally-Friendly Building Material

If you are thinking about building a new home or office block, it is important that you are considering the effect that it will have on the environment. There are many different building materials that you can choose from but only some are energy efficient in the way that they are made. Here, we are going to look at some of the reasons why steel is a very environmentally-friendly building material. Keep reading to find out more about this material.

Less Waste

One of the most important reasons why steel is an environmentally-friendly building material is the fact that it tends to produce less waste. When you order steel from a company like Armstrong Steel, for example, you are only ordering exactly what you need. Their steel building kits provide you with the exact materials you need to assemble, so if you have any spare parts you’ve done something wrong!

This can mean that there is little to no waste in comparison to other building materials such as brick or wood. This is a great reason to consider using steel in your home.

Reduced Energy Usage

When you invest in steel as a building material, you are also ensuring that energy usage and costs are going to be much less in the future. This is great for those who are going to be living in the building or using it, as well as the environment as a whole.

Steel is a material that can be effectively insulated and so you don’t need to worry about losing any energy. This means that this building material is much more environmentally-friendly.

It Can Withstand Harsh Weather

Did you know that steel is an extremely durable material and so it has the ability to withstand harsh weather and stay standing for a long time? This means that you don’t need to worry about the steel building falling down in the event of flooding or snowstorm as it is built to last. With a longer-lasting material, you can be sure that your building will leave behind a much smaller carbon footprint.

Solar Panels Can Be Added

The final reason that steel is an environmentally-friendly building material is that it can have solar panels added very easily. Not every building material has this ability and so solar panels are often ignored for other types of energy.

With more buildings using solar energy to power utilities, the environment will be positively impacted. This is something to consider if you are thinking about building a steel building in the near future.

Final Verdict

Steel is one of the best eco-friendly building materials for buildings across the world for a number of reasons. If you are interested in doing what you can to save the planet then you might want to consider choosing steel for your next project. Think about how durable this material is and remember that steel is recyclable. Try steel in your next building and you will feel much better about your carbon footprint and the effect that you are having on the environment overall.

Everything You Need to Know About Solar and The Urban Heat Island Effect

As cities grow, open spaces, trees and other greenery, and other naturally occurring surfaces diminish, replaced by concrete and asphalt surfaces. When this happens, the heat absorbed by these surfaces has nowhere to go, and so is radiated and reflected into the immediate surrounding areas. This creates an urban heat island.

This leads to an increase in heat in the immediately surrounding areas, making temperatures a few degrees hotter than the actual weather. This causes discomfort to residents of the area and can also incur damage in the form of heat-damaged structures.

There is also a human cost associated with urban heat islands. Heat-related medical emergencies such as heat stroke become more prevalent in such areas as the heat can go up to dangerous levels. The EPA has taken stock of this phenomenon and is now advising cities to take steps to mitigate it. One such way is the use of Los Angeles solar as a means of making cities cooler and more comfortable to live in.

How does solar minimize this effect?

Cool Roof Strategy

A cool roof strategy is a one that seeks to use heat absorbing and/or dissipating roofing materials and technologies. Typical roofs use materials that either reflect or absorb and radiate back heat. Conversely, cool roofs, like solar, can help absorb sun rays and convert them into beneficial energy.

Solar excels at this because of the way the cells are designed and organized to absorb the maximum amount of sunlight. Solar roofs are also designed to trap this heat rather than radiate it back into the environment, something that can help reduce the amount of secondary heat being released into the environment.

Reduced Construction

When solar roofs are implemented, there is usually a reduced need to construct structures that support the traditional electric grid. Such a scenario can play out in several ways. If a new estate is being built with nothing but solar power, there is a possibility that some open spaces can be retained as fallow ground in places where utility implements would have been installed.

While the gains at this level would be marginal, implementation of this strategy across several thousand estates can help move the needle in reducing the urban heat island effect.

Combination Approach

This approach offers the greatest promise of reducing heat in urban settings. By combining the cool roof strategy with other strategies like green roofing, planting more trees and vegetation, cool paving and general smart city growth, a lot of ground can be covered.

Planting more trees and vegetation will go a long way in reducing heat in urban settings.

All these strategies have one thing in common in that they all absorb and dissipate heat in an efficient and sustainable manner. The EPA recommends these measures, among others, to cities grappling with the urban heat island effect or anticipating it as open spaces and greenery levels go down.

Many cities have a high incentive to deal with this issue because of its effect on residents and visitors to the area. If street-level temperatures are unbearable, it is possible that tourists and potential new residents may shy away from the area in favor of other cooler cities.

Combating Concrete: Alternative and Sustainable Building Materials

Around 5% of the world’s CO2 emissions are caused by concrete production, so finding sustainable alternatives is essential to slowing down climate change. Fortunately, there are plenty of materials out there which are perfect for mass home construction, without the same ecological damage. If you want to continue to do meaningful things, such as travel the world or live in safe and comfortable accommodation, then finding alternative building materials is the route to doing this sustainably.

Hemp Concrete Substitute

By compacting hemp and lime, it is possible to create a building block comparable to concrete. Unlike concrete, however, hemp absorbs carbon dioxide rather than emits it. This means that during the production process, 1m3 of hemp concrete wall will suck up 165kg of CO2. It is just as durable and robust as regular concrete, but will require cannabis legalisation before manufacture can begin.

Nigerians are building fireproof, bulletproof, and eco-friendly homes with plastic bottles and mud

In countries where the plant is already legal to produce, then the switch to hemp alternative building material should begin immediately. Hemp plastic is an attractive sustainable building material which holds great potential worldwide.

Bamboo and Straw

Wood has long been a popular home building material, but not all plants are equally green. Bamboo has the quickest regrowth time of any plant, meaning that it can be replaced as quickly as it is cut down. It is strong and durable. Meanwhile, straw, when packed tightly, is a perfect eco-friendly insulation material. Together, this makes the most environmentally conscious wooden cabin.

In the debate of manufactured vs modular cabins, the latter tends to be preferred due to its rigidity and durability, while the former is more affordable. By constructing modular bamboo cabins, however, you are able to produce a long-lasting, energy efficient home at a much cheaper cost.

Reused Plastic Waste

The world purchases a million plastic bottles a minute or 480 billion a year. We need to seriously start thinking about how we can reduce our consumption of single use plastics, but also what to do with the waste in the meantime.

One thing that the bottles can be used for is the construction of houses. When filled with sand and stacked together, they form a durable and insulating wall. In some countries, this is being used as a way to bring affordable housing to those living in poverty. It is certainly a creative way to build homes without using more of the Earth’s precious resources.

Final Thoughts

There are so many alternatives to concrete out there. Governments and construction companies need to come together to move towards sustainable building practices. This will help to ensure that everyone has a safe place to call home, while recycling resources and cleaning the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.