Building sustainability is a key focus for the mainstream construction industry.
Materials and technology choices can significantly impact the cost and sustainability of a project, influencing the initial costs (material + installation), as well as the ongoing costs (maintenance) and influencing the lifecycle considerations (performance, environmental impact, recyclability, etc.).
For materials to be used sustainably, their present use must not compromise future use. Materials should be from renewable or replaceable sources, recycled materials or materials that are in plentiful supply. Lifecycle considerations in materials selection include the impact of extraction and manufacture (noise, pollution, energy, etc.), sourcing, installation (health and safety, ease of installation), performance (health and safety, durability, maintenance, thermal/fire/acoustic performance, etc.) and the potential for re-use/recycling/disposal.
A responsive design process, which can be used to assess and optimise the use of a variety of available processes, technologies and systems, supports sustainable design. New tools like building information modelling (BIM) support the decision-making process during the design stage of residential buildings, and enable easier identification and comparison of design alternatives, as well as easy modification of design along the way.