Nature-Based Construction Means Choosing the Right Materials and Methods

Why Construction Needs a Dose of Radical Thinking

One of the most significant trends in construction is the move towards solutions that work with nature, rather than against it. Nature-based construction comes in several forms, but it only makes complete sense if the construction process uses materials that are more in harmony with the environment.

Biomimicry, for example, uses concepts inspired by nature to improve building design. This could be anything from mimicking the structure of a termite mound to provide passive ventilation or responsive facades that help regulate solar gain and internal temperatures.

Building with nature is also concerned with place and the creation of a built environment that encourages biodiversity and green infrastructure.

Sustainable Building Materials

What’s inescapable is that reducing the impact that construction and the built environment have on nature leads us back to the choices we make about building methods and materials. It partly comes down to hard statistics about energy-efficiency, sustainability and waste management. Some methods inherently work sympathetically with the environment and some don’t.

Embodied carbon is, and always will be, an issue for buildings that use large amounts of concrete and steel. In terms of sustainability and working with nature, mitigation is the best you can hope for. Traditional methods – partly because of variable quality – also struggle to replicate design levels of insulation and thermal efficiency in practice.

Timber-based construction is in some ways the essence of nature-based construction. Timber from sustainable resources sequesters atmospheric carbon. Rather than adding to the carbon footprint the material captures and stores carbon within the building structure.

Energy-Efficient Buildings

Timber is also an inherently ‘warm’ material. When used in modern building schemes, such as our i-SIP system which is produced in a manufacturing environment, there is greater control and certainty over the thermal performance of the completed building. Whether you measure it in ‘u’ values or energy consumption, buildings constructed from SIPs perform exceptionally well.

The factory environment also allows for minimisation and better control of waste. The panels are precision made and assembled onsite. Other than packaging, nothing is shipped to the site that isn’t needed for the completed building. Any offcuts stay in the factory for reuse or recycling.

Innovaré has a proud record of using nature-based methods and materials. Our expertise has been recognised by two nominations in the 2020 Structural Timber Awards with two projects shortlisted for the Education Project of the Year Award.

Find out more about how offsite construction can reduce the environmental impact of your next project here.

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