In Some Ways the Conventional Approach to Building Can Be More Expensive Than the Sustainable Approach


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The conventional way of building can be more expensive compared to the sustainable way if a contractor uses non-renewable materials on a construction project that cost more than renewable materials. An example of a more affordable renewable material is Insulated Cavity Brick Veneer.

This brick is not only cheaper than a conventional Insulated Cavity Brick, but it also has a higher R value which means that it’s a better insulator (Albatayneh, et al.,2018). The Insulated Cavity Brick Veneer will reduce energy use for heating and cooling of the building due to it being an insulator. So, the contractor will save money on material cost and the building owner will save money on utilities over the life of the building (Albatayneh, et al.,2018). Another example of a low-cost renewable material is Bamboo.

The use of Bamboo as a building material cost is low compared to steel. Bamboo is also used as an additive in concrete. The use of Bamboo benefits the contractor with lower material cost. The reduction of use of steel will lower CO2 emissions from production of steel (Goh, et al., 2020). The construction industry could practice sustainability in the design of building that reduce the energy consumption due to heating, cooling, and ventilation. The shape and orientation of the building affects the heating and cooling of the structure (Pacheco, et ai., 2012). The design of the roof including the type of materials used affect the energy use of a building. Material selection for exterior siding, insulation used in the exterior walls, window design with the use of glazed materials all affect the energy consumption of a building.

The building owner will benefit from the energy efficient design by having lower utility cost over the life of the building (Pacheco, et al., 2012). The replacement of inefficient vehicles and equipment with energy efficient vehicles and equipment is another cost effective method of fleet management.  Hybrid vehicles and heavy equipment are an example of sustainable choice in construction practices. The hybrid vehicle and heavy equipment will save the contractor in fuel cost for the life of the vehicle (Filla, 2008). Recycling of waste material in another sustainable procedure that the construction industry could implement that is a change from the conventional waste disposal method. Some construction material waste can be sold for recycling which reduce the amount of waste that needs to be transported to the landfills (Begum, et al., 2006). Finally, in several ways the conventional approach to building can be more expensive than the sustainable approach in the construction industry. 

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John Muhammad, President/Owner of Nation’s Builders, Host of the Business Building Blocks Podcast, Graduate Student of the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in Construction Management M.S., B.S Degree from Texas Southern University, former Site Health and Safety Specialist for the renovation of the Administration Building of the Johnson Space Center at NASA and former Superintendent for semi-custom home builder, Emerald Homes.




 Albatayneh, A., Alterman, D., Page, A., & Moghtaderi, B. (2018). Renewable energy systems to enhance buildings thermal performance and decrease construction costs. Energy Procedia152, 312-317.

 Goh, Y., Yap, S. P., & Tong, T. Y. (2020). Bamboo: the emerging renewable material for sustainable construction. Encyclopedia of Renewable and Sustainable Materials2, 365-376.

 Pacheco, R., Ordóñez, J., & Martínez, G. (2012). Energy efficient design of building: A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews16(6), 3559-3573.

 Filla, R. (2008). Alternative system solutions for wheel loaders and other construction equipment. In 1st CTI Forum Alternative, Electric and Hybrid Drive Trains, 1 and 2 December 2008, Maritim Hotel Berlin, Germany. CTI (CD).

Begum, R. A., Siwar, C., Pereira, J. J., & Jaafar, A. H. (2006). A benefit–cost analysis on the economic feasibility of construction waste minimisation: The case of Malaysia. Resources, conservation and recycling48(1), 86-98.