Environmental assessment of construction trends in Mexico: towards sustainable building?

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Abstract

Purpose
– The purpose of this paper is to determine the environmental performance of construction trends in houses in central Mexico by assessing the type and quantity of material used in construction elements.

Design/methodology/approach
– Three reference Mexican houses are used for the analysis: a traditional house, a house with mostly masonry elements, and a house with mostly concrete elements. The reference houses indicate the construction trend followed in central Mexico. Quantitative analysis of the types and weights of various materials used to construct the houses is undertaken. The environmental performance is measured according to their sustainability potential. The indicators used are based on the Three Step Strategy, which sets the steps needed to achieve sustainable construction: use fewer materials, use renewable materials and be efficient with the remaining need.

Findings
– The analysis shows that there is a trend to use faster and cheaper construction processes, which are often concrete and prefabricated elements, especially for dwellings built in series. Although this has the positive impact of decreasing the stress on housing demand, it might have negative impacts on the environment because more energy‐intensive and artificial materials are used. In addition, the low homogeneity of these materials decreases the potential of construction elements to be reused or recycled.

Research limitations/implications
– The findings of this study aim at providing more information to practitioners on the sustainability of material choices during the design process. Thus practitioners will be better informed to design more environmentally sustainable buildings. The results are based on analysis of data from Central Mexico but may have relevance to other parts of the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-371
Number of pages10
JournalStructural Survey
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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