The ecological footprint of new home construction…

While I don’t have any expertise on green building, I have some views on how greening the construction process itself might benefit British Columbians.

“Green Building” generally refers to a set of principles that are used in the design, construction and function of homes that are intended to facilitate better performance related to energy efficiency and environmental responsibility.

As the BC Government develops a “green” component to reduce the impact of buildings on the environment, the chaos at our construction sites present “greening” opportunities that require serious consideration.

New homes being built using the traditional construction process model and project management can be very unhealthy, disruptive and extremely resource intensive.  Outside of this paradigm are clear opportunities for efficiencies and serious “greening” to support sustainable building practices.

I believe that increasing modular or prefabricated buildings featuring cozy, modern design, functional amenities, and real value for money, would appeal to British Columbian buyers and enable the home building industry to increase efficiencies in ways that other major industries have for years.

There is no doubt that BC has the human assets, economic capital, technological competence and natural resources for more construction prefabricating.

With continuing industry skilled labour shortages, I believe it would just make sense to look at much more off-site prefabrication.  This would create more on-site construction assembly jobs that require less-skilled workers.

While the construction site is being prepared the components are simultaneously being built locally in a controlled manufacturing environment in specially equipped factories that ensure superior quality and durability, lower construction costs and waste, and shortened schedules. The wood frame would also be less exposed to wet weather.

Over twenty percent of the material used to construct a typical frame home ends up as scrap.  More prefabrication diverts this useful on-site construction refuse material from landfill sites and incinerators.

In addition, I believe that more prefabrication would reduce carbon emissions, have a significant impact on our local water supply and storm-sewers, and energy demands on our power grid.

City Hall needs to develop some incentives for responsible building practices that challenge the traditional model which is broken and desperately needs overhauling. Prefabricated new homes that include more natural, non-toxic and sustainably-derived materials would probably reduce the ecological footprint dramatically.  What do you think?

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