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5 Exciting Ways to Minimize Environmental Impact of Construction

July 13, 2016 - Emily Newton

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There are many studies about how to reduce our carbon footprint in all aspects of life. One of the most debated has been on how to minimize the environmental impact of home and business construction projects. Some advocates argue for a house that blends into the landscape, such as homes that are built into hillsides, making the most of the natural landscape. Others argue for metal buildings made from recycled products.

But not all areas are equipped with one or the other. A house that utilizes the landscape for design and function doesn’t work in a large metropolitan area where there are housing shortages. Metal houses stand out in a rural or urban landscape.

One of the newest trends in construction is “tiny” houses that make a small impact on the environment. Some are made of recycled shipping crates, while others are designed to fit on a trailer and remain mobile.

Prefabricated Metal Buildings

Even though metal buildings use natural resources to fabricate components at some point, when it comes to scoring points for reducing the carbon footprint, metal buildings score twice.

First, because they can be made of recycled metal, and second, because they can be recycled again at the end of their lifespan. When you’re planning your building project and intend to use pre-fab metal buildings, it’s imperative to “measure twice, cut once” to avoid having an excess of material leftover at the end of your build.

Environmental Impacts Before and After Construction

Working with an architect or planner who is experienced in pre-fab metal building construction will eliminate some of the problems you could encounter, such as waste from excess materials. Water pollution — both the natural kind from storm runoff and the waste from building and construction sites — should also be a concern your planner can address with landscaping. A dry creek bed design for runoff will channel water in a direction that will eliminate erosion.

Since construction is an ongoing concern for environmentalists, researchers at Oxford Brookes in the United Kingdom worked with the construction industry to publish a “green guide” that measures the impact specific materials have on the environment. The Green Guide to Specification originally changed 230,000 construction projects in the UK, and by the time it was in its fourth printing in 2015, there were more than a million projects around the world waiting for certification.

Greenhouse Issues

Greenhouse gas issues, especially carbon dioxide, can be addressed in a number of ways. You can reduce emissions by limiting excessive use and idling of heavy equipment and cement trucks. Using sustainable materials, such as wood, in your construction, is another way. Another idea that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is with a cool or green roof. Green roofs are literally just that: roofs that have landscaping plants on them — even entire gardens.

Integrated Passive Designed Homes

The theory of an integrated passive design when building houses or businesses is that it uses as many natural resources as possible without creating a negative impact. For example, the orientation of the building will take advantage of high summer and low winter sunlight angles to both light and heat the interior of the building. The side of the building facing the rising and setting sun, the size, the position and the placement of windows are all taken into consideration during construction.

Building for a Lifetime

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When considering what environmental impact the construction of your house or building will have in the immediate future, you must also consider the long-term impact. The idea of solar energy was once too expensive for most homeowners to consider. However, that’s no longer the case. Solar energy can also be used for heating water and, in turn, heating your entire home. Wind energy can also be used to power your home — especially in areas that don’t get much sun in the winter. Whether you’re building a large home or a tiny dwelling, building a green home is something that will have a positive impact now and well into the future.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She manages the sites publishing schedule, SEO optimization and content strategy. Emily enjoys writing and researching articles about how technology is changing every industry. When she isn't working, Emily enjoys playing video games or curling up with a good book.


  1. Rachel on July 29, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    While I’ve seen quite a few tiny houses via HGTV, I have to say I haven’t heard of the houses made from old shipping containers. I actually really like the way these look, and it sounds like a really good, eco-friendly way to reuse these. Thanks for sharing!

    • Emily Newton on July 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post! I came across them while researching and found them fascinating! It’s such a unique way to recycle those shipping containers.

    • Emily Newton on December 20, 2016 at 11:28 am

      Hi Rachel! I’m glad you enjoyed the post! When I read about houses made from old shipping containers I was curious. It’s definitely unique.

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