Sustainable Infrastructure Today
We’re currently in history’s most impactful global movement toward sustainability and environmental concerns.
As a result, we’re seeing more environmentally friendly products, using more sustainable materials, reducing carbon emissions and implementing energy-saving alternatives. The construction industry is no exception, with sustainable infrastructure trends taking the sector by storm.
In response to our industry using plenty of natural resources, we are all making massive efforts to contribute to this movement. This includes investigating and using sustainable materials and rethinking our building and home designs. For all of the luxury homes that Jukka builds, we ensure we meet our clients’ needs, while still prioritising sustainable construction – not only in the building of each project but for the lifespan of the home itself.
It all begins with your vision regarding your home having a minimal environmental impact and then finding the architect, landscaper and builder who will make that vision come to life by sourcing the most sustainable infrastructure products available.
These are a few of the things you can do to build a sustainable, environmentally friendly and energy-efficient home, while still creating a home of unparalleled comfort and style.
Examples of Materials being used in Green Building Technology
‣ Solar power
In light of South Africa’s energy crisis, many homeowners are investing in solar power to avoid being regularly affected by outages. It can be installed easily, works well in our climate, and produces clean and renewable energy for your personal use. With many of us working from home, this is a welcome addition to our list.
‣ Straw bale
Sourced mostly from agricultural practices, straw bale provides exceptional value as an alternative building material. Not only is it renewable and locally sourced, but when used in walls, flooring and ceilings, the super-insulating properties of this material also reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions overall.
While not all species of bamboo are suitable for construction, this structural material has a long history in its use as scaffolding and for framing structures. Notably, the building-appropriate species of bamboo have an incredible ability to handle high-tensile force. Bamboo requires very little energy and few resources to grow and regrows fairly quickly after being harvested.
Typically seen as a more sustainable form of concrete, grasscrete is a low-maintenance building material that is sourced from recycled or biodegradable natural waste. Often used for pathways and stabilising the ground, this sustainable infrastructure material not only offers peace of mind from an environmental perspective but also offers a natural, refreshing aesthetic to new homes and building projects.
Primarily using hemp (a fast-growing renewable resource) and other waste material, this concrete alternative has great insulation and fire-resistant qualities. It is also CO2 negative, meaning it absorbs more CO2 than it produces. Like bamboo, hemp grows quickly and cheaply, while improving the quality of previously contaminated soils.
With cork comes surprising benefits as a building material! Cork happens to be an excellent insulator for both heat and sound. It’s also flexible, resilient, and durable. Compared to wood, it presents some environmental benefits too, as cork is harvested from fast-growing tree bark, which means fewer trees are cut down, and we observe less deforestation as a result.
‣ Recycled Plastics
While plastic may currently be one of the major causes of pollution, recycled plastic also offers a lot of potential when used as a building material. Being extremely malleable and durable, recycled plastic is able to cheaply fulfil countless roles within the building process, and do it surprisingly well. So, while we’re reducing building costs, we’re also able to take some of the strain off the environment.
‣ Rainwater Harvesting
While we might take it for granted, water is earth’s most precious, life-giving resource – one with increasing demand and scarcity. Rainwater harvesting is the collection of rainwater from the roof and/or gutters of a building, which is stored in a tank for later use. Without any kind of treatment, rainwater is suitable for irrigation and non-drinking water functions, and it takes the pressure off groundwater supplies (boreholes), reduces flooding and erosion, and cuts your water bill.
‣ Landscape Architecture
Research shows that carefully planned landscape architectural practices create a positive impact on the surrounding environment by conserving soil, and supporting animal, plant, and even human life. Locally, we should aim to grow plants that are indigenous to South Africa where possible – some of them are even edible! Many environmentally conscious homeowners choose to raise and expand a vegetable garden which is cost-efficient and sustainable.
Pulling it all together
While knowing about sustainable materials is easy enough, knowing what’s available in South Africa, and using the right materials to artfully create a structure can be tough. Many of these materials and building methods are not available in South Africa, or come at an exhorbitant cost! That’s where getting the right contractor can make or break the home of your dreams.
Here are two things to look out for when looking for an environmentally friendly contractor:
At Jukka, we’re committed to remaining informed on South Africa’s up-and-coming sustainable infrastructure trends and the availability of environmentally friendly materials, locally. In collaboration with your architect and landscaper, we can determine the best solution for you to build an ideal home that’s guilt-free and cost-conscious.