Sustainable Construction Sample Paper


Plastics are commonly used for both construction and non- construction purposes for some time now.  Moreover, plastics provide long-lasting and least problematic solutions. They have been effectively applied in piping, flooring and conduit purposes. Due to its unique characteristics, timber has historically been the most valuable and useful natural resource to humankind when it comes to construction materials. Timber has been at the heart of modern construction because of its versatility, abundance in nature as well as environmental friendliness. The suitability and sustainability of timber and plastic as construction material about environmental friendliness, durability, waste disposal, and recycling will be evaluated.


Sustainable design and construction of structures also referred to as green building. Green building is the practice that pertains to developing structures using environmentally friendly methods and resource-efficient.  Within this process of building right from site selection, the design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and eventually demolition of the structure. It complements the traditional construction consideration of durability, comfort, and utility of the structures.

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Construction and operation of buildings in many countries result in the generation of waste materials such as municipal solid waste, air emissions, water discharges, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), carbon (iv) oxide and other greenhouse gases. The extent to which buildings are affecting the environment calls for improvement through sustainable design, construction, operation, and maintenance. The aim of this report is to evaluate timber and plastic that can be used as walls and timber as a foundation and the sustainability of the same.

Literature Review


This is one of the most ancient and versatile materials in human use. It is also referred to as wood and is obtained from the trunk and branches of a standing tree. The relative abundance of timber and its unique characteristics has made it one of the most important and useful natural resources to humankind.

Being biological in nature, the properties of timber differ significantly depending on the species of the trees, the geographical area of growth, the conditions of growth, the age and size of the tree at harvest time, sawing and other treatment processes (Jim & Gesimondo, 2011, pp.78). It has a diverse range of applications such as manufacturing of furniture, traditional as well as modern biomass fuel and as decorative materials of sports equipment, musical instruments as well as the construction of boats.

Wood is broadly classified into two hardwoods and softwoods with the main distinguishing feature between them being the presence of pores or vessels in hardwoods. Softwoods usually have needle-like leaves, lower densities and lighter in color than hardwoods. They mature faster and therefore are cheaper, softer and easier to work with. Pine fir and spruce are the most common examples of softwoods. Hardwoods, on the other hand, are darker in color and have higher densities than softwoods. They mature at slower rates and examples include oak, elm, and beech.


These synthetic or naturally occurring materials can be shaped when hot and then hardened to retain their shape. They are polymers in nature, which are a chain of repeated units called monomers. There are several categories of plastics.

Thermoset plastics are plastics, which retain their shape once cooled. They are hard, durable and mostly used in the manufacture of tires and aircraft parts. For example, polyurethanes and epoxy resins (Akovali, 2005, pp.105). Thermoplastics are plastics that can soften on heating an return to their original shape on cooling. Examples of thermoplastics include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polypropylene (PP).

Plastics are non-biodegradable and hence are environmental hazards when left to accumulate. They adversely affect waterways, soil, and oceans. Chlorinated plastics release harmful chemicals into the soil and later join the natural water sources through seepage into the groundwater. A reduction effort of pollution caused by plastics is by encouraging recycling (Tolinski, 2012, pp.44).

Due to the dwindling forest cover in the world, many firms are turning into plastics for use as construction materials. The most common plastic-based products include pipes, drainage and irrigation systems and plastic and composite lumber.


Plastics were found to be very appropriate for wall construction as they had numerous potential benefits. Plastics are less expensive, waterproof, decay-resistant, flexible and require low maintenance. Most of the plastics used are usually recycled and therefore sustainability is not a problem. Using recycled plastics also uses energy in the manufacturing process because less energy is used in recycling than the creation of virgin plastic. The plastic materials used as walls in construction eases the pressure on forests by replacing and supplementing the use of timber.

Wood as a flooring material is generally lightweight compared to other flooring materials, although its density differs significantly from one species to another (Cole, 2001, pp.45). Timber from hardwood is the best for use as a flooring material due to its hardness and stability. The fact that wood is non-conductive to heat makes it an excellent material for floors.

Wood reacts with full-spectrum light such as light from the sun causing the breakdown of the natural pigment and darkening of the floor over time. This, however, can be prevented by using carpets to covet the floor.

Wood although is considered as a renewable building material, it may not be renewed so rapidly because trees take up to 10 years to mature (Anderson, 2002, pp.324). This has led to some species of trees to be endangered such as cherry species. The deforestation techniques used in the harvesting of trees in the tropical hardwoods forests are non-discriminative and hence results in the depletion of these forests. This makes the use of timber as a flooring material unsustainable.

In conclusion, it is clear from the discussion that the suitability of plastic to make walls and timber to make floors is undisputable. But whereas the use of the plastics is sustainable, the use of wood may not be so due to environmental considerations.


Akovali G. 2005. Polymers in Construction. Shrewsbury, UK: Rapta technology Limited,

Anderson L. O.,2002. Wood-Frame House Construction. New York, NY: Books of Business,

Cole R.. 2001. The New Flooring Idea Book. Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers,

Jim P. & Gesimondo N.2011. Materiality and Interior Construction. New Jersey, NJ; John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Tolinski M., 2012. Plastics and Sustainability. Massachusetts: John Willy and Sons,


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