Popular green building materials
The Living Arch...
With Greenbuild conference just weeks away, we take a look at some of the most popular green construction methods…
The Living Architecture Project (LIAR) have been developing ‘smart bricks’ which will be able to recycle waste water and generate electricity which can be incorporated into housing, public buildings and office spaces. The bricks will contain microbial fuel cells and algae to allow the bricks to sense their surroundings and adapt to the continual changing weather and environmental conditions.
Thatch roofing has been utilised throughout the centuries, remaining a popular choice within building until the industrial revolution. A natural insulator which can withstand all weather conditions, thatch roofs are now commonly constructed from wheat reed, long straw and water reed, but have previously been constructed from various grasses.
Although constructing thatched roofs are labour intensive and have declined as a result of more affordable options which have become available, they are still a common sight within the English countryside and in hot climates.
Solar panels are a new feature within construction. Made from layers of silicion with implanted PV cells which convert sunlight into electricity, the panels reduce everyday electricity costs and provide a sustainable energy source.
Ideal for rural and remote locations, solar energy is a free, renewable resource. The panels effectively support the reduction of pollutions, carcinogens and the destruction of forests and various ecological areas, lowering the carbon footprint on any prospective build.
The panels are easy to maintain, saving approximately two tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
However, installing the panels is expensive and are also heavy. Solar tiles have recently been developed as a discreet alternative; but they are less effective and more expensive to install.
Wood is one of the most popular renewable materials within building, providing solid, durable, insulating structures which are sustainable and long lasting. Timber and oak are the most commonly sourced hardwoods.
Bamboo is also a popular softwood due to its versatility. Utilised within flooring, fences, scaffolding and furniture, it grows back quickly and is a strong and reliable material within building.
Popular within the United States, limestone is a long lasting natural resource, commonly used for cladding, flooring, wall tiles and paving. The low maintenance, alkali material is highly versatile, from the construction of the Egyptian pyramids and vast Greek buildings, to smaller scale structures.
Although the material is expensive, the material creates long lasting structures which are aesthetically pleasing and durable.
Read the August 2016 issue of Construction Global magazine
France to invest €1.8bn in Egypt’s infrastructure
France will invest a total of €1.8bn into Egypt’s infrastructure focusing specifically on upgrading the Cairo Metro, building a railway to Sudan, and developing water and energy schemes. Officials have called the investment a “major boost to bilateral cooperation”.
The Cairo Metro
Included in the financing is a concessional government loan of around €800mn to upgrade Line 1 of the Cairo Metro, introduced in the 1980s. The financing will pay for 55 trainsets for the line and is provided by the French engineering company, Alstom.
Line 6 is also due to be upgraded using further state-guaranteed loans worth up to €2bn. Bruno Le Maire said that this would be negotiated over the next six months. France and Egypt have worked in close cooperation ever since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014, despite differences over human rights and strong criticism of Egypt by rights activists and some foreign states.
Nine more projects over the next half a decade
A further €1bn from France’s development agency, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), aims to cover a range of other projects over the next half a decade.
These projects include a railway line between Aswan, southern Egypt, and Wadi Halfa in Sudan, as well as several projects in the renewable energy and water purification industries. Bruno Le Maire, France’s Finance Minister, said Egypt was a “strategic partner and commercial dealings with it would be developed. France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans,” he said.
According to Le Maire, the AFD will also €150mn to support the construction of a universal health insurance programme. French contractors such as Vinci and Bouygues have a long history of working on the Egyptian capital’s underground system.
Talking about the relationship between France And Egypt, Le Maire concluded: “France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans”.