Green construction is a dynamic field that is always evolving with the advent of new technology, the economy and social change. The popularity of sustainable building has increased in recent years in response to growing concerns about climate change, as well as the declining supply of renewable resources. Certain building materials and methods are considered "greener" than others because they have qualities that minimise their impact on the planet. Nontoxic, renewable, sturdy, or recycled products may be considered green.
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Flooring is good place to start when trying to make greener building choices. Some woods are less renewable than others, and carpet often contains VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that have a negative effect on indoor air quality. Bamboo has become a popular choice for flooring, since it replenishes very quickly. Cork, which is removed from the outside of a living tree at intervals, is attractive, natural, very renewable and gentle on the human body. Other green flooring options include sisal, eucalyptus, recycled carpet tiles, recycled rubber, wool carpeting, linoleum and reclaimed wood.
On driveways and walkways, specially engineered cement that is porous and allows water to sink in rather than run off and pollute waterways is environmentally friendly. Also, using light-coloured concrete, especially in urban areas, helps reduce temperature. For buildings, a relatively new technology called TX Active has emerged, which actually "eats" pollution.
Insulation is very important in green construction because it helps conserve energy. In the past, asbestos was used for insulation, but it has since been banned or restricted in many countries because of health hazards. Good sustainable choices for insulation are those made from recycled newspaper and wood pulp, soy, cotton, recycled plastic or cork.
An important feature of green roofing is its durability; sustainability can often be as simple as avoiding or limiting waste. Composite cedar shingles resist moisture, mildew and insects, which extends their life. Metal roofing materials that have solar reflective qualities also have advantages, especially in hot climates. Living roofs, which are covered in hearty plant life, reduce the "heat island effect" that is caused by a lack of evapotranspiration in areas that have a lot of concrete and asphalt surfaces.
Breakthroughs in technology have made glass a popular green building material. Windows constructed of layered panes separated by sealed, gas-filled compartments provide insulation that conserves energy. Additionally, windows and doors can also be covered in special low-emissivity coatings that use or block natural solar rays to help regulate indoor temperatures.
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