Among the multiple sectors of our society the construction industry has serious responsibi-lities when it comes to negative environmental impact.
Let’s point out some of the more worrisome aspects of this impact: residue production, energy consumption, CO2 emissions and natural resource consumption. According to Agenda 21 for Sustainable Development during the construction stage alone 50% of all natural resources are consumed, 50% of all residues are produced, 40% of energy is consumed and 30% of all CO2 emissions are produced.
Buildings and the built environment, being indispensable to contemporary human life, require guidance orientations in order to become active contributors to social development and growth. A collective effort is necessary in order to minimize the industry’s negative impact and to heavily ration energy consumption.
Following that principle, when it comes to building materials, choosing more sustainable materials of local and natural origin with low incorporated energy and at the same time reusable or recyclable becomes a dire necessity. It also becomes imperative to create proper environmental management procedures to enact in construction works in order to minimize wastage and unnecessary consumptions.
It is also important to point out that in the European Union, in general, there is an overcrowded residential lot and that rehabilitation of existing buildings is increasingly becoming a priority over new construction.
Compromises made by the European Union in the wake of the Kyoto Protocol require a new course for the construction industry, namely by rethinking territorial policies and laying them over sound urban planning policies and resorting to more energetically efficient construction materials and techniques.
Rehabilitating buildings allows for significant reductions in energy consumption as well as extraction of raw materials and production of new ones. Construction works are more restricted and construction yards smaller as well. Overall the amount of materials needed is inferior which lowers the environmental impact associated to transportation.
Alternatively, to construct anew instead of rehabilitating leads to excessive urban growth which reduces the soil’s permeability and negatively affects the natural balance of the landscape. Other consequences are the excessive extraction of inert compounds from natural grounds and sea and river beds as well as the increased consumption of energy and emission of CO2 into the atmosphere.