As organizations across the globe work on reducing carbon footprint, the sustainable architectural trend is gaining popularity, which is positively impacting global green building materials market growth. These building materials, powered by an array of tangible benefits, can actively ensure protection from pollution caused by non-renewable energy sources.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential and commercial establishments combinedly account for 40% of the total energy consumption in the United States as of 2020. Moreover, the World Green Building Council has claimed that the overall construction sector is responsible for 30% of worldwide emissions.
In consequence, sustainable building methods have been increasingly advocated in the global construction sector to reduce the aggregated negative effects. The adoption of green building materials can help in reducing the environmental impact of a developed asset throughout its lifecycle, further aiding sustainable national development. As per Global Market Insights Inc., green building materials market size is expected to cross a mammoth USD 610 billion by 2028.
Various eco-friendly construction materials are being introduced in the marketplace to lower the overall environmental impact of infrastructural developments and operations. A summary of the same is outlined below:
5 most popular products in green building materials industry
Bamboo, a critical green building material, can resist disease and pests, making it a stress-free option for building owners. Its lightweight properties help in making transportation efficient. Green buildings often feature bamboo in walls, flooring, and cabinets as its more durable than concrete.
Builders can opt for bamboo and reinforce it with concrete slabs in locations with limited access to steel, further adding an extra layer of strength to the overall structure. Bamboo is a very popular material used in interior decoration across residential complexes, making the interiors a vital revenue generator for the industry. As per Global Market Insights, Inc., green building materials market size from the interior segment may cross USD 185 billion by 2028.
Sheep’s wool is completely natural unlike the commonly used polyurethane spray foam or fiberglass insulation. The material does not degrade as quickly as other natural insulation materials, is easily available, can regenerate faster as well as be harvested quickly. Although, it is worth mentioning that sheep’s wool is relatively more expensive than a traditional insulator.
Cork is another popular product of green building materials industry. It is often used by construction companies as a flooring solution but can also work as an insulator. It is known to be impenetrable, fire-resistant, and liquid proof as well as has exceptional acoustic and thermal absorption capabilities, allowing it to easily block heat and sound.
Apart from this, cork grows on trees that can eventually regenerate their bark and become ready for the next harvest. Although such trees are mostly found in the Mediterranean (adding to the fuel emissions while transporting), corks make up for this with their lightweight nature, hence reducing the energy required for transport.
4.Recycled wood and steel
Recycled wood comprises a lower embodied energy than its fresh counterpart since it does not undergo a cutting as well as curing process. Although some percentage of lumber is usually lost during the cutting process, it can again be used for producing engineered wood. Recycling wood also helps in reducing deforestation, thus enabling trees to grow to proper maturity before they are ready for harvest.
Metal or steel, on the other hand, is known to be one of the most durable green building materials. It is also highly flexible and can be used for various building applications. Even the carbon footprint of steelmaking has been reduced by 37% since 1990, with engineers consistently exploring ways to streamline the overall process.
A concrete slab is usually produced by the manufacturer and then shipped in whole sections to the required construction sites. The outer layer of this product is enveloped with a lightweight filler, while other versions of concrete slabs have hollow air spaces. Now precast concrete slabs are mostly used for building walls and façades since they can function in all types of weather conditions.
The sustainability factor, for precast concrete, is even higher than many conventionally poured concrete since the slabs since they require less energy to produce as well as assemble. In addition to this, precasting concrete allows to properly cure the material in a controlled environment instead of exposing it to a variety of unfavorable conditions. This may also be a reason precast concrete is used as a popular roofing material, given its high cracking resistance, appreciable corrosion resistance, and excellent load-carrying capacity.
So how eco-friendly is concrete?
The most widely adopted construction material concrete is known to have some excellent sustainability qualities, with the industry already making significant developments in reducing its CO2 emissions. According to the GCCA, the cement industry has managed to reduce its carbon emissions by 19% since 1990. Moreover, the industry has also introduced the Climate Ambition to offer society carbon-neutral concrete by the year 2050, further keeping in line with worldwide climate targets.
It is worth mentioning that concrete offers a longer lifecycle, energy efficiency, lower maintenance, and exceptional resilience during man-made or natural disasters. It can also be reused or recycled at the end of its life. The green building materials market is expected to see revolutionary changes in the upcoming years given the more focus on producing and using green concrete in construction activities.
The way forward
Around 70% of the U.S. industrial sector was built before the 21st century, with a full third of the inventory being over 50 years old, according to a report from Newmark. As investors and other stakeholders emphasize carbon-reduction targets, the challenge here is to transform the existing infrastructure into green buildings, including the warehouses and distribution centers that saw exponential growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, a survey from Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing found that around 85% of investors in the U.S. are showing high interest in sustainable investments. Moreover, half of these investors are factoring in integrating sustainability for a company while procuring raw materials and other related items.
Even China, the world’s largest building construction market, has introduced its 14th Five-Year Plan to reduce the emission intensity by 18% between 2021 and 2025. For those unaware, emission intensity is the amount of carbon dioxide produced per unit of GDP.
The takeaway here is that these developments provide ample opportunities for architects, design professionals, and construction companies to explore sustainable and greener building practices. It would be interesting to see how the green building materials market develops in the upcoming years amid these trends.