Green living: Save Our Earth By Living Green

Let’s Look at the Sustainability Standards of Residential Formwork

As with all phases of construction, there has been a lot of focus recently placed on concrete foundations, and in particular, the formwork, Not to be confused with falsework, which is scaffolding. There is an interest to see if it meets modern green building and sustainability standards. If you’re building your own home, and have placed a high premium on making sure every step of the construction process adheres to high standards of sustainability, you will be happy to know that this issue has been addressed. In both commercial and residential construction sustainable formwork systems are changing the industry. Here’s an update as to where the industry is now, in meeting these standards.

First, let’s define what we’re trying to achieve. Green construction strives to reduce the carbon foot print, use environmentally friendly products and once built to reduce energy consumption and overall impact on the environment. To meet sustainability standards, building are striving to meet current needs and enjoy the current environment, without effecting the ability of others in the future from doing the same. The very process of pouring a concrete foundation, or flatwork, is to leave something behind that is permanent. That makes the green construction standard unusable, however the sustainability standard can definitely be addressed.

For the most part, concrete is just concrete. Though there are different mixes and a difference in the amount of calcium will affect how quickly it dries, once it’s dry, it’s pretty much inert. Where advances are being seen is in the development of sustainable concrete form systems. In residential construction, forms are frequently reused reducing the demand on wood. Sono tubes have helped to cut down on using lumber to build interior footings. For flat-work ,like driveways and basement slabs, where new lumber is frequently used as forms there has been a concerted effort to use materials that will last longer and stay straighter. For these, metal, composite woods and plastics have been used to make better formwork systems that even help with the finishing.

Some people opt to avoid the issue altogether by getting pre-built concrete foundations or by using high tech piers that will reduce the amount of concrete, and therefore the use of forms. Though these may reduce the carbon footprint, and adhere to a greener standard, they will cost more and create issues in permitting. Because they’re not a standard product, you may be required to hire an engineer for the approval. Formwork and falsework are often grouped together because, like scaffolding, it’s temporary. Experienced companies will reduce their usage of both as much as possible to reduce cost in materials and labor. In that regard, the industry is self motivated to abide by sustainability standards.

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