What is meant by eco-friendly construction?
To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the construction industry is now using environmentally friendly building materials in new buildings. With the RE2020 regulation entering into force on 1 January 2022, eco-friendly construction is becoming the norm. Building an eco-friendly house has many advantages for its occupants, but also for the environment. Not only are these houses nice to live in, they are designed to minimise dependence on external energy and provide high levels of thermal comfort throughout the year.
What is an eco-friendly building?
An eco-friendly building must follow the recommendations set out in the RE2020 regulation. This Environmental Regulation relates to buildings intended for collective and individual housing, schools, offices and service buildings. Its purpose is to make the energy consumption of the buildings as low as possible during the construction phase and then when they're in use. Ideally, eco-friendly buildings have a positive energy rating, which means they produce more energy than they consume.
When designing an eco-friendly building, the floor plan is designed based on the external environment. As a result, cool rooms such as the cellar and garage face north, while the living rooms are to the south. The roof exploits solar energy thanks to photovoltaic panels. The building materials are all eco-friendly.
What is an eco-friendly building material ?
Eco-friendly building materials must meet a number of criteria to be recognised as such. If just one of the criteria isn't met, the material cannot be considered eco-friendly.
An eco-friendly building material must:
- Come from a renewable resource and should be local, where possible.
- Be recyclable.
- Be safe for users.
- Be sustainable.
An eco-friendly building material must not:
- Produce greenhouse gases and substances that are harmful or toxic to health and the environment.
- Represent any danger to workers on site.
- Need energy to be generated for their installation.
- Require long-distance transport.
Wood is one of the obvious eco-friendly building materials and is mainly used for its strength and high insulating capacity. Other materials with a high insulating capacity such as terracotta, straw, cellulose wadding, sheep's wool, cork and hemp are also used to build eco-friendly houses.
To achieve a high energy performance, terracotta bricks are a good choice of building material. Very strong, safe, recyclable and durable, they offer excellent levels of building insulation thanks to their high inertia rating. Monomur bricks are terracotta bricks with air-filled cells. It is this air that gives the material its insulating properties. As it is also highly durable, it is regularly used for façades as well. Note that terracotta is also frequently used as a roof covering. Roofing tiles made using this eco-friendly material are durable, provide insulation and also look good.
Why build an eco-friendly house?
Eco-friendly construction offers many advantages, from both a financial and ecological perspective.
The financial benefits of eco-friendly construction
Although it costs a little more to buy than a traditional concrete house, the difference is quickly offset, as energy bills are reduced to the bare minimum. In addition, the thermal and sound insulation offered ensures that inhabitants stay comfortable, which is very much appreciated. This advantage, inherent in any eco-friendly construction, means that a heating and/or air conditioning system is no longer needed, which represents great savings in terms of installation, maintenance and space.
The environmental benefits of eco-friendly construction
Eco-friendly construction does not harm the environment. On the contrary, it helps to protect it since it does not draw on natural reserves and does not emit greenhouse gases. Only environmentally friendly materials (and local materials where possible) are allowed on site, and the greatest care is taken to reduce and manage waste. Finally, eco-friendly buildings are designed to last a long time and require little maintenance.
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