5 ways the construction industry can become more sustainable

Sustainability as a concept is something that every business can buy into. And there is clearly a need for change in the construction sector where environmental impact is concerned, as some reports indicate that the global industry is responsible for nearly 40% of worldwide energy-related carbon emissions. Environmentally-focused practices need to be implemented across the board in the construction industry in order to make sustainability a reality and not just an admirable concept. They will also be crucial in ensuring that businesses can meet targets set in the Paris Agreement. For enterprises in construction, where is the best place to start?

  1. Review the way that the business works with materials. Construction is an industry that has historically relied heavily on concrete. However, concrete is incredibly carbon emitting. So, for many businesses in construction the first way to become more sustainable is going to be finding alternative materials to use. This could be recycled plastic, bamboo or sustainably sourced timber, for example, which absorbs carbon dioxide rather than emitting it. Timber has the potential to make it much easier for construction businesses to be more sustainable. However, it – like all materials used in the process of construction going forward – should be purchased consciously. That means checking that it has come from a certified forest and that the business providing it meets sustainable standards.
  2. Take a different approach to on-site operations. Environmental impact on job sites is often defined by high levels of waste, pollution and energy usage. There are a range of different approaches available here that can help to minimise this. These include integrating a comprehensive waste management process, using energy efficient equipment and introducing water dust control systems.
  3. Opt for green construction techniques. This can help to improve sustainability and minimise environmental damage. For example, prefabricated construction uses components that have been created indoors in a more controlled factory environment where pollution, waste etc can be better managed. When the components are delivered on site the work required is minimal. Prioritising a building’s solar gain is another great construction technique that involves taking into account window positioning, glazing and solar panels to minimise energy consumption.
  4. Establish robust recycling processes. Recycling materials means that they don’t end up in landfill and many can go on to be converted into new products, reducing the need for a greater volume of raw materials. Any inventory that can be recycled should be sent to a recycling centre. Anything that doesn’t fall into that category could be donated to local community projects, sold to vendors or returned to suppliers via a take-back scheme.
  5. Anchor sustainability in business culture. Any organisation can convert to a culture that is more environmentally aware and focused on sustainability. Creating robust environmental policies and showcasing these online, training staff and becoming a voice for greater sustainability in construction can all help to get the message across.

 

Sustainability needs to be a focus for any construction business today – these are just some of the ways to begin prioritising this approach.

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