Human Impact Building – Construction Materials and Methods

ig-2The Human Impact Building was built to demonstrate sustainable building techniques that can be applied to both commercial and domestic buildings and will be integrated with the energy system of the Green Greenhouse.

Before construction could begin, a number of aging and inefficient glasshouses were demolished from the site and the glass from these sent for recycling. Timber was then used for the main structure of the building, being the most environmentally friendly structural material available (as a renewable resource that absorbs carbon dioxide during growth and has relatively low embodied energy). The timber posts that support the roof structure came from a sustainably managed source while the beams, webs and skin of the roof consist of a timber lattice made of composite timber from small section and waste timber.

view inside Human Impact BuildingOther sustainable materials used in construction of the Human Impact Building were:

  • Natural rubber, a sustainable rainforest product, used for the roof membrane;
  • Recycled vehicle tyres to produce the floor covering;
  • Recycled concrete for paving slabs and concrete blocks;
  • Bricks re-used from previously demolished buildings; and
  • Lime mortar made with recycled (crushed) glass aggregate.

A number of design features were also put into place to increase energy efficiency in the Integrated Greenhouse:

  • Insulation – Voids in the roof, walls and floor were filled with economical and environmentally friendly insulation (recycled newspaper), giving a high level of thermal insulation.
  • Passive ventilation (natural ventilation) was installed, rather than mechanical. This involves the use of automatically controlled roof ventilators through which air changes are driven by the movement of warm air inside the building.
  • An Exhibition Walkway was created between the glasshouses and Human Impact Building to act as a thermal buffer, reducing heat loss from each.

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