Stereotypical imaginations of the future often include steel and glass high-rises, polished metal structures and sprawling cities that stretch as far as the eye can see. However, the future of construction is likely to be a lot more eco-friendly as people are waking up to the devastating impact that we’re having on the environment.
Instead of silver skyscrapers and glass houses, we’re more likely to live in grass-topped buildings with cork floors and recycled materials abound. In South Africa, the demand for eco-friendly properties has spiked. People want homes with rainwater tanks, solar geysers and lighting, and greywater purification systems.
The rise of eco-estates around South Africa is likely to continue its upward trend as construction becomes more sustainable and recycled materials are used more often inside the home. Here are some of the latest trends in eco-construction that are going to become commonplace in the future.
Cork is a renewable and sustainable natural resource that comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. The lightweight bark is harvested when the cork oaks are 25 years old. The bark is able to regrow every nine years and the harvesting process does not damage the tree.
Besides making wine and champagne stoppers, cork is a highly versatile product with an increasing function in construction. It has been used as a flooring material because of it’s insulation properties, as well as the fact that manufacturing cork flooring results in almost no waste.
The cutoffs and fragments from the manufacturing process of cork stoppers are collected and used to create the cork floor tiles. Cork is very durable – able to last for 40 years if it is looked after properly. The tiles have good grip and are a natural heat insulator and sound absorber, making homes warmer and quieter.
Believe it or not, nappies and sanitary pads are recyclable. Their fibres can be turned into a form of plastic that is moulded into roof tiles. At the moment, nappy roof tiles are being used in the United Kingdom by a company that converts some of the 750 000 tonnes of disposed diapers and sanitary pads into recycled roofing materials.
The company collects the sanitary waste, washes it thoroughly and dries the remaining material. This material is then processed into plastic pellets that are melted down and moulded into various products.
The nappy plastic is perfect for roof tiles as it is UV-resistant and lightweight. It also acts as a thermal insulator, keeping heat inside the roof during winter and reflecting the heat from outside during summer.
Paper is made from wood, but a Norwegian company has figured out how to reverse the process and turn paper back into wood. Old newspaper is stacked and the layers are compressed. What results is a wood-like material where the layers look like the grain and rings found in natural timber.
This newspaper wood can be used to create kitchen cupboards, shelves, doors and a range of other ‘wooden’ products. It is not as strong as real wood so it is limited to smaller products, but it is a responsible alternative to timber and makes use of the mountains of paper waste generated every year.
A number of interior designers are also making use of waste in the construction of homes. Washed-up beach plastic is being turned into floor tiles, plastic bottles are being turned into furniture and sawdust is being used to create insulation boards. The future of construction is going to be a lot more sustainable and eco-friendly.
Environmentally-responsible construction will also result in cost savings and a lighter impact of human population growth on the planet. Waste volumes will be greatly reduced as we find more ways to turn it into useful products through recycling and upcycling.
Original source: www.bizcommunity.com
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