In the UK, over half of total carbon emissions can be attributed to the building industry. It’s no wonder then that we need to look closely at all aspects of construction when looking to reduce our impact on the environment.
Global demand for fossil fuels continues to increase while production declines. Scientists have predicted that we will reach peak oil within the next twenty years.
The building industry has always relied upon cheap oil for all aspects of construction whether it be manufacture and transport of materials, or to run machinery and tools.
If we continue as we are, we are heading towards a world filled with greater amounts of water, air and soil pollution. Landfills will fill with building waste faster than we can find space for it all. We need to change how we build now, before it is too late.

Reducing Energy Needed at Every Stage
Reducing our impact on the environment starts with using eco friendly building products during construction. These green products are produced using much lower amounts of energy than typical construction materials. These products with lower embodied energy are a great first step, however we need to go a step further.
By pairing eco friendly construction materials with clever green design we can also reduce the amount of energy required over the long term. Green designed buildings use less energy towards heating, cooling and lighting than traditional buildings and in the face of impending peak oil and global climate change, reducing our energy consumption should be a top priority. It not only reduces the effect on the planet, but will also reduce the utility costs to the building occupier over the life of the building. As we approach peak oil this will be more pertinent than ever. The german Eco House pioneer Baufritz shows the way to build houses with eco-friendly materials.

Non-Toxic Buildings - Good for the Environment and Us
Conventional building materials have been linked to a number of different health problems. Plastics and composite timbers, solvents, paints, dust mites, and mould can all cause symptoms as varied as heart problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, asthma and depression.
Eco friendly building materials and design can go a long way towards reducing or even eliminating these problems. Allowing walls to breathe, providing good ventilation, and using preferably natural or at least non-toxic materials are simple measures that will provide real health benefits.
Eco friendly construction practices can benefit further than just the health of the planet and the building’s users. They can also build strong communities by supporting local businesses, and make these areas a sought-after residential location.

The Next Step
The UK Government is working to develop its policies regarding use of eco friendly building materials in the construction industry, albeit slowly. Because climate change and peak oil won’t wait, we need to make this change now. The building industry must take action and find new ways to build that are more environmentally conscious. Renewable energy resources must be used wherever possible and reducing, reusing and recycling become the industry norm.
Choosing to use eco friendly building materials in your next build is not just the right thing to do, it’s also necessary for our future; the future of the industry and the planet.

Author's Bio: 

Lena Weberstein
Journalist for ecologic living