It is no secret that the cost of construction has gone up significantly in recent years. Material increases and labor shortages are just a couple of the issues affecting the bottom line of construction projects. Greater environmental mindfulness is another critical concern for the industry.
Nonetheless, demand is showing no sign of slowing down. The industry was worth approximately $1.3 trillion in 2022, with compound annual growth of 5.5% expected through at least 2026.
To balance these various concerns amid continued demand, it is more important than ever to leverage sustainable building materials to the fullest. Keep reading for a detailed breakdown of the importance of choosing sustainable materials in industrial construction.
Durability and energy efficiency are two primary components in green construction. Many people use these two terms interchangeably, but there are some subtle distinctions between the two.
Durable materials are those that can stand the test of time. They hold up well in all types of weather conditions and do not readily wear out from use. Examples would be steel siding and terrazzo flooring. They are a fundamental component in green construction because they will limit ongoing energy and resource consumption from cleaning, maintenance, and upkeep.
Energy efficient materials are those that limit overall energy consumption during building use. Examples would be solar panels that supply renewable energy back to the grid and larger windows that reduce electricity consumption by transmitting sunlight.
The good news is that many materials, such as the best insulation for exterior walls and hurricane grade storm windows, are both durable and energy efficient. However, it is important to understand the subtle difference between the two terms and how each is necessary for green construction.
Sustainable materials will decrease the lifetime cost of ownership for a building. Due to their outstanding durability, they will come with fewer maintenance and upkeep costs.
They will also last longer before they need to be replaced. A good example is in roofing. Basic asphalt-based products will usually need to be replaced every 20-25 years, while more durable metal roofs are rated to last 50 or more years. Whatever the cost of an asphalt roof, it is a good idea to multiply that by two since it will need to be replaced at least once in the building’s lifetime.
It is very important to factor in all of these lifetime costs when considering sustainable building materials. Some sustainable products will carry a higher upfront price tag than less durable options, but their lower lifetime costs will make them the more cost-effective solution for the project.
Another critical aspect of choosing sustainable materials is their safety potential. Less sustainable products will degrade more readily, creating the potential for hazards. Some points to keep in mind:
Wood should be painted or treated at least every other year to prevent moisture and sun damage
Concrete should be sealed with crystalline concrete waterproofing to limit its porosity and potential to crack
Window frames should be sealed regularly with a silicone-based sealer to prevent ongoing damage
Again, many of the more sustainable products on the market, such as metal siding and roofing, steel window frames, and terrazzo floors require less attention than the aforementioned products, making them inherently safer.
In bygone years, it was easy to assume that curb appeal did not matter in industrial construction. An industrial building was a place of work and production, not a place to be admired from a distance.
This outdated notion has radically changed in 2023. Countless studies have shown the importance of workers taking pride in their place of employment. Whether it be a commercial warehouse or industrial manufacturing plant, having an inviting ambiance and visual intrigue will contribute significantly to worker well-being and productivity.
As such, choosing sustainable materials that can hold their appearance over time is a great leg up in this regard. Less durable products will become visibly run down and unattractive without regular intercession.
Just as curb appeal is increasing as a priority in industrial building design, so too is experimentation with new design concepts. Industrial buildings are no longer the stereotypical concrete boxes in the middle of a forlorn field. They are much more dynamic and cutting-edge in 2023. Some ways to choose sustainable materials that enhance innovation include the installation of roof support b decking to maximize rooftop access and utilization and structural steel framing to create more interior clear spans to promote versatility in interior design. There is also a trend for creating more functional offices onsite in commercial spaces, with materials such as customizable glass partition walls and sound-absorbing acoustic clouds in high demand.
Sustainable Materials: The Best Choice for Industrial Construction
There are many challenges facing the industrial construction industry in 2023. To help balance each of them, it is important to choose sustainable building materials. Due to their role in green construction, cost-effectiveness, safety, curb appeal, and innovation facilitation, sustainable materials should be the first choice for any type of industrial construction project.