Standard of Sustainable Building Materials and Inspection

Green building encompasses all that facilitate skillfulness in avoiding energy wastage, the utilization of sustainable construction materials, and processes that promote not only human, but also those that promote environmental health. There are profound effects that revolve around green building, effects that are either positive or negative. The results not only point to the individuals living or surrounded by the Green Building, but also at the natural environment which we as people share every day of our lives. The green building comes in as a way to curb the adverse effects, amplifying the positive ones in an attempt to make the world a better place for us to live and call home.

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Building permission precedes green building architecture focuses solely on the proper operations, planning, the construction processes, the design of buildings with core and most profound considerations. These factors include both energy and water utilization, within environmental quality, building material selection and the effects that may come as a consequence of building at the particular site. The practices involved all play around profound scientific principles that are considered to bring forth a constant development. Sustainable green building very much relies on the field of science a great deal.

Utilization of energy that is near its source is preferred. It is important as energy conversion losses are substantially minimized. All forms of heat transmissions are considered in the choosing of the better sustainable construction materials and the practices involved. Air barriers are created and maintained like that throughout the construction process. Ventilation and a pressure neutral interior are equally significant. Construction details that can accommodate the movement of water by the process of gravity, by capillary action or by diffusion are considered. They all form part of the green building architecture.

Some of the sustainable construction materials that are typically taken to be green encompass lumber, electric renewable plant components such as bamboo and straw, recycled metal, dimension stones, reclaimed stone, together with other goods which are reusable, renewable, recyclable and non-toxic. Using already used substances like processed coal materials and other reusable substances in the construction processes are equally recommended.

Inspection is a key thing that is important after any procedure has taken place. It gives room to finding out whether the whole process was okay and whether specific expectations are achieved. A pre handover inspection helps assure value, it is a brief review of the entire process before the full review commences.  There are specific issues that are considered to a particular level to reach the green building structure inspection standards. These items include energy efficiency, sustainable construction materials and practices and human and environmental health.

Energy efficiency

Efficient use of energy is recommended. Power consumption involves not only the equipment and methods employed in the green building process, but also its design and the effectiveness of the equipment set up within the building. Green building inspection should above all provide information on the economic utilization of the energy. Smoke alarm testing is often done to find out if proper fixing was done in the building process. The inspection focuses on the evaluation of the effectiveness of the design of the building in trying to save energy. All these are also often included in the energy audit process apart from the home inspection process. Different skills are used in the energy auditing process, that are relatively dissimilar to those used in the review process.

Sustainable building materials

It is during the consideration process when it is determined whether sustainable equipment and practices were applied. Sustainable building materials and the methods involved include those that uphold environmental health. They also include those that encourage the efficient use of resources throughout the entire process of construction. Durable materials are low-energy materials. Materials like wood are regarded as sustainable when obtained from trees that grow at a fast rate and which once cut are replaced quickly to ensure no deficit when they are badly needed. Conserving water by using equipment that encourages this is recommended. Such are the good practices helped hitherto. The training of home inspection does not, however, address the utilization of these materials and the carrying out of these practices. The lack of address makes it difficult for the individuals carrying out the inspection processes to identify the existence of both the materials and the practices. It is just, but one of the challenges, which the persons are going round to inspect the green buildings incur.

Human and environmental health

The inspection process also focuses on certain features of homes that are kinder the health of people. It also focuses on aspects that are environmental friendly. During the review process, the inhabitants of greenhouses are encouraged to embrace practices that are health friendly. It means that when all seems right, it may necessarily not be good enough. The inspection process brings to light all these.

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Source: sustainablecitiescollective

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Net Zero Waste in Construction

By Gordon Brown

According to the World Green Building Council the construction sector accounts for up to 40% of waste in landfill sites worldwide, and while this figure may be lower in South Africa construction remains a significant contributor to landfill content. The National Waste Information Baseline Report (DEA2012) indicates that the construction sector is responsible for 8% of all waste generated, although it is unclear whether this number includes the waste from product suppliers during production, which is significant. Importantly this statistic also excludes the ongoing operational waste generated in all occupied buildings, and so is understated.

Construction waste is made up of aggregates (concrete, stones, bricks) and soils, wood, metals, glass, biodegradable waste, plastic, insulation and gypsum based materials, paper and cardboard, a very high percentage of which are reusable or recyclable if separated at source. Currently 16% of construction waste is recycled in South Africa (NWIBR).

Trends and forces for change

The green building movement is being spearheaded by the CSIR and the Green Building Council of South Africa, the latter having set up rating tools that award points for, amongst other green building aspects, resource efficiency for designs which reduce waste.

Best Practice

Construction waste emanates due in some part to inconsiderate design, construction, maintenance, renovation and demolition, as well as supplier considerations such as packaging. Intelligent design and best practices during each phase can significantly reduce waste.


Architects and engineers have a very significant opportunity to affect the waste generated through the life cycle of a building by determining the method of construction and the materials specified. From simple strategies like utilising building rubble onsite as fill for instance, or reusing items from demolished buildings such as wooden window frames, by specifying materials with recycled content, and adopting strategies and building methods geared to dismantling and designed for deconstruction – design affects everything, and with careful planning and consideration given to waste and reusing materials at concept stage, much waste to landfill can be avoided. An example of this is modular construction.

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It is also very important at design stage to consider how the building is going to manage operational waste while the building is occupied – sufficient space will be required for recycling storage and sorting, as well as the access to various floors and of course for collection.


At a waste management level, there are a number of best practices to ensure maximum recyclability of materials on site:

  • Make this consideration a key performance criterion when appointing contractors
  • Set targets for % of waste not to go to landfill (refer to Green Star SA for achievable best practice)
  • Have a waste management plan drawn up according to best practice prior to beginning the project(ie. Part of the tender/brief document)
  • Have correctly marked skips for certain waste streams
  • Ensure that the correct paper work is filed for all items removed from site
  • Safe disposal tickets for hazardous waste must be kept

Keep a monthly and overall project reports of all waste and at the conclusion of the project –confirm whether targets are being achieved

There are many great examples of achieving excellent standards in construction waste management, one of these was the first Green Star SA certified project in South Africa, the Nedbank Phase II building in Sandton – in 2008 the contractor was initially concerned about the high standards set within Green Star SA for waste diverted from landfill (30, 50, or 70% of construction waste). By the end of the project, with the good waste management programme they employed, they were surprised at the incredible success – they were able to divert over 90% of their construction waste from landfill. This is a significant achievement, and is replicable across all construction projects by implementing good waste management programmes.

Product and Material Suppliers suppliers have huge potential to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Many suppliers could provide their materials to site in a way that requires less or no ‘packaging’, or packaging that is recyclable, and also ensure that their contract with the construction contractors is such that their packaging is returned to them directly for recycling or reuse. ‘Packaging’ is a significant waste source. (Packaging refers to anything that is not the actual material that will be used and left installed on site.) Besides the ‘packaging’ referred to, the product suppliers are also responsible for a significant amount of waste at their own factory or storage houses – the contractors and design team can have a significant influence on the downstream waste impacts by contracting only with suppliers that minimise their waste production and maximise recycling and reuse of waste.

The building in operation

During the course of a buildings life it will require multiple new light bulbs, new carpets and flooring, painting, filling, stripping, windows due to breakages etc. Good building managers and operators can make the necessary effort to separate materials.

The Green Star SA rating tools will reward designers for making provision for separation operations within the utilities area of the building, and building maintenance would utilise these facilities for its waste streams. It is important to have both the space designed to store and sort the waste for collection, but also to have waste management policies in place for the ongoing operation while the building is occupied.

Market forces

As the market places a greater value on sustainability, products with recyclable content become more sought after. Masonry bricks made from crushed aggregates, tiles made from recycled plastics, are just two examples of products gaining traction.

On the waste disposal side, costs are rising but it remains relatively cheap to dispose of construction waste to landfill, cheaper in fact than general waste disposal which costs R272.00 per ton.

As costs increase so too does illegal dumping, which poses an environmental problem, and municipalities need to consider increasing the penalties imposed on transgressors and to find ways of policing illegal dumping more effectively. Perhaps funds from increased charges for legal dumping can be directed in part to policing illegal dumping.

The construction sector has a massive impact and a commensurate opportunity to effect positive and meaningful change. Through a combination of product design and innovation, building design and methods, and through best practice waste management on site the sector can radically reduce the amount of waste created and significantly improve on the rate of recycling.

Source: Green Building Handbook Volume 6



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