Environmentally Friendly Construction

Environmentally Friendly Construction 1280 800 Eric Padilla

By Maria Teresa Maristela

Humanity has incited an adverse stamp on our planet that scientist designated it into a
new geological era coined as the Anthropocene. Ignited by urban and industrial breakthroughs,
anthropogenic or human-influenced undertakings suited for human needs resulted to the
mutation of the earth’s landscape which has proven to be cataclysmic. Our planet is drastically
being altered by our influences on nature. We exhaust our land’s resources, build highways on
it, dig and run pipes underneath it and trash it with our excessive consumptions. Much
variegated from previous geological epochs that left us with natural archaeological imprints, it
is foreseeable in the future that we may be leaving footprints of “manufactured landscapes”
from buildings to highways to damaging human trash and discards. Recognizing this possible
aftermath, human inventiveness that guaranteed our progress is belatedly growing an
ecological consciousness of the need for a more sustainable planet. We have gradually become
mindful of our influences on nature which consequently reshaped the way we consume our
resources. Over the years, our objectives have changed and focus veered towards sustainability
for a more ecofriendly environment.

The building industry is one of major sectors that is increasingly reshaping its role and
practices to improve impacts on nature. Given that construction requires significant amount of
material use, it virtually exhausts a massive portion of resources, allowing for the prospect to
achieve sustainability in every aspect of the building process, from technologically intelligent
and energy-efficient designs to material considerations to advanced construction methods.
There is also favorable potential for resource recovery of construction wastes by responsive
approaches towards effective waste management, such as reusability and recyclability of
scraps, discards and off-cuts instead of these excesses customarily designated to landfills.
Material wastes and excesses in an industry as sizeable as building construction can be
valuable, creating occasions for reuse and recycling. Elongating a used material’s life span
diverges the amount of materials to be harvested from nature as well as deflects wastes from
adding to the mounting pile of landfills.

In its venture to reform existing environmental circumstances, notable green building
programs such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) provides certification,
thrusting further aspirations for the construction industry into a sustainable zone. Substrata
Inc., a LEED certified company, aligns its objectives towards earth-friendly building practices
and informed decisions in order to adhere to low-chemical emissions, initiate water and energy
conservation as well as maximize utilization of renewable resources in different areas and
aspects of construction:

• Painting: Substrata advocates to the use of water-based paint to support low-chemical
emission. Paint have toxic contaminants that are hazardous to health and air quality.
Water-based paint deters risk of adverse health effects and does not cause air pollution.

• Plumbing: Substrata uses water efficient plumbing products such as dual flush toilets
for solid and liquid wastes as well as faucets with specified maximum amount of flow
rate to save on water.

• Electrical: Application of LED lighting and dimmer switches on all rooms minimizes
power consumption and promotes longevity, consequently decreasing electricity costs
for Substrata clients.

• Rain Barrels and Storm Drain System: Substrata clients conserve water and save on
water bills with rain barrel and storm drain system. Rain barrels serves as reservoirs for
rainwater drained from the roof through a downpipe. Water collected from roof gutters
are used to irrigate lawns, water gardens and wash driveways.

• Renewable Materials: Substrata engages in product selectivity by recommending to its
clients renewable and recycle materials such bamboo which endorses reduction of
pollution and greenhouse gas emission.

• Waste Management: Substrata employs waste management companies to collect and
segregate construction debris from demolition works, 50% of which goes to recycling

Substrata is one of growing companies in the building industry showing maturity
towards earth-friendly business engagements. Each sector in commerce adapting the principles
of sustainability, when added collectively, become proactive collaborators in a global
movement for a greener environment. When looking for a more sensible vision of what the
future would be like influenced by an allied global action, humanity’s relationship with nature
will be more thoughtful and far-reaching in its effort to build a sustainable planet. After all,
there is only one earth we all call our home.

De Pencier, Nicholas, Burtynsky, Edwards and Baichwal, Jennifer. The Anthropocene Project.
https://www.theanthropocene.org. 2018
“Construction Industry Progress Towards Sustainability with Renewable Material”. Recycling

Magazine. https://www.recycling-magazine.com/2020/04/14/construction-industry-
progress-towards-sustainability-with-renewable-materials/. 14 April 2020

Pink Hard Hat

Pink Hard Hats in the Construction Industry

Pink Hard Hats in the Construction Industry 860 360 sashadmin

By Maria Teresa Maristela

An introspective of the past examines how women through time broke societal barriers to make their presence felt. Once imposed on them in antiquity by a traditional society, women now choose and define their roles beyond gender demarcation of what they can or cannot achieve. Breaking from the chains of conventional mold, women today are now moving forward and gaining strong visibility in the male-directed construction industry. Although they still assume a minor percentage of the workforce, female presence reverberates with equal display of competence, efficiency and skill as their male counterparts, whether it is in the trenches, field operations, construction management, leadership roles and diversified disciplines of engineering and architecture.

A historical chronicle of women in the building trade goes as far back as the 13th century in Europe. Women were given menial and unskilled tasks having been ascertained to be ineffective in hard physical labor. There were no profound highlights in their roles except as ditch digger, water fetcher or mortar mixer. Over the years, a progressive transition of views has witnessed emergence of female workers and companies promoting them to key positions in the industry. In the United States in the early 1900s, change was forthcoming as women were gradually given opportunities to embrace larger responsibilities in the construction industry. For instance, Julia Morgan, a diminutive female architect and civil engineer (two of the rare professions for women in those days), was selected from among possible male contenders to design and build the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California from 1919 to 1947. Fast forward to 21st century, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest record accounting for 10.3% of women in the construction workforce from 9.2% in 2015. It may be observed as a narrow increase at turtle pace, nevertheless there is diligence in growth proving that companies are gradually casting more gender-neutral roles in the industry.

Social perception of women working in the building trade that was once telling of gender stereotypes, residing from the commonplace thinking that women are lacking in ability and training to meet with physical demands required of the job, is slowly eroding and has improved exponentially. There is a discernible progress in the acceptance of women, availability of resources and male-recognition of women’s meticulous, detail-driven and innovative approach in assuming their roles, paving revolutionary roads for women in the industry to be elevated to executive capacity. A relative few even have become significant business owners in the building trade.

Cecille Maristela, an immigrant from the Philippines and owner of Substrata, started in construction by developing 24 for-sale condominium units providing her access to learn the ropes of the business. An accountant by profession but armed to the teeth with her hands-on proficiency in construction fieldwork, Cecille took reins to build her own construction company. Gaining recognition for the quality of her work, influx of projects (some of more complex nature such as building structures from ground up) mostly come from repeat clients, clients arising from the proverbial word-of-mouth and confident referrals by peers in the same trade. A crystal exemplar of making it in a once-traditionally male-dictated profession, Cecille like every woman in the construction industry had to overcome gender-biased hurdles to get to solid footing on which she stands.

Women have shattered obstacles of traditional thinking in the significance of their roles and changed the framework of the construction industry. It is ambitious and premature to say that they have broken the glass ceiling because the road to global inclusivity is still evolving. However, there is a promising forecast that more pink hard hats will emerge and navigate construction sites in the years to come.


Hatipkarasulu, Yilmaz and Roff, Shelley. “Women in Construction: An Early Historical Perspective”. Associated Schools of Construction. 2011. https://www.ascpro0.ascweb.org

Historic People. “Julia Morgan (1872-1957)”. https://www.hearstcastle.org. 8 July 2020.