Poor air quality is no joke, with diesel being the biggest culprit for causing 40,000 deaths in the UK alone each year. Human health is definitely at stake, and so does the environment take a hit from the construction industry’s carbon dioxide emissions. So maybe it’s time for a little sustainability in construction?
Construction activities are notorious for their carbon footprint, and it’s not just because of all the cement trucks clogging up the streets. From excavating raw materials to transporting finished goods, the entire supply chain is responsible for churning out carbon emissions. Even the smallest of sites can leave a significant impact on the environment.
To make matters worse, these emissions are only set to increase with the growing demand for new infrastructure. However, industries are starting to feel the heat from increasing scrutiny of their environmental impact. As public awareness of environmental issues grows, stakeholders are demanding more sustainable practices. And there certainly are ways in which construction can be environmentally friendly.
Energy efficiency on construction sites
Efficient energy management is crucial for on-site offices. Not only does it reduce energy costs, but it also decreases the environmental impact of projects.
By implementing sustainable practices in construction, such as using energy-efficient lighting and equipment, setting up proper insulation, and monitoring energy usage, companies can greatly reduce their carbon footprint. Moreover, energy control can enhance the comfort and well-being of workers on-site, leading to improved productivity and employee satisfaction. Ultimately, taking steps towards useful energy administration is a win-win situation for the environment, the construction company, and its workers.
One way to guarantee efficient power management is by using site accommodation with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of A, B, or C. This means that the building has been constructed with materials and systems that are designed to conserve energy and reduce emissions. Another option to consider is a combined heat and power (CHP) system. This system generates electricity and utilizes the waste heat to provide hot water and heating, reducing the need for additional energy sources.
Construction activities generate a very large amount of waste, and the traditional linear approach to disposing of waste is unsustainable. The linear approach involves waste production, collection, transportation, and disposal in landfills. The construction industry generates more than a third of the world’s waste, and as the industry continues to grow, so does the waste it generates. The negative effect of construction waste on the climate and society cannot be overstated.
It is evident that a waste management policy that embeds sustainability is needed in the construction industry. Such a policy would promote waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. Adopting a circular approach to management would be an imperative step toward eco-friendly practices. The circular approach ensures that materials remain in use for as long as possible and waste is minimized.
To add to the already unfortunate situation for financially struggling people in this economy, the disposal sites are often located near low-income communities, leading to social and environmental injustice. This is why sustainability is important in construction. Reducing waste is essential not only for environmental sustainability but also for the economic sustainability of the construction industry.
Waste management costs are very high, and reducing waste would lead to incredible cost savings. Additionally, reducing waste would lead to less amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Therefore, there is a need for the construction industry to transition to more environmentally friendly methods.
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Aspects of offsite construction
Offsite construction, also known as modular or prefabricated construction, is becoming increasingly popular as a more sustainable approach. With this method, parts of the building are constructed in a factory or offsite location and then transported to the site for assembly. This offers numerous advantages, including reduced construction time and waste.
Shorter project delivery times can be achieved through this since the process can run simultaneously with on-site preparation, resulting in significant time savings, which can be particularly beneficial for commercial projects where time is money.
Moreover, since offsite construction takes place in a controlled environment, there is typically less waste generated, as materials can be reused and recycled. Another key advantage is the potential to decrease the emissions (to surprisingly low numbers) caused throughout the traditional construction process. The transportation of materials, machinery and construction workers to and from the site can contribute a serious amount of environmental emissions. On the other hand, off-site construction reduces these by consolidating construction into one central location, allowing for more efficient resource allocation and less transportation to the site.
What about transportation?
Transportation accounts for much of a construction project’s overall carbon footprint. It involves numerous trips back and forth from the site, including taking workers, equipment, and materials from one place to another.
To reduce the impact of journeys to and from the construction site, various solutions can be implemented. One would be to train the driver with efficiency first practices, which can improve their driving skills and reduce fuel consumption. Telematics tracking is another useful tool that allows companies to monitor driver behaviour, identify areas for improvement, and optimize their routes. Switching to more efficient vehicles like electric or hybrid trucks may also appreciably reduce carbon emissions.
Industries can also try and source materials locally, leading to reduced transportation distances, which in turn, reduces carbon emissions. This also helps to support the local economy and can result in saving bucks for both the company and the customer. Also, consolidating site suppliers is another effective strategy for reducing the number of trips to and from the site, resulting in more sustainable construction.
Do you need a sustainable supply chain?
To be fair, blaming the buildings already constructed for not being environmentally friendly should come second; the first step should be to adopt a “sustainability by design” approach to materials sourcing. This requires taking into account the entire lifecycle of material, from extraction and processing to transportation and disposal. Choosing sustainable materials, such as those made from recycled content or renewable resources, will work tremendously towards a greener future. We are supposed to think about the environmental and social impact of materials, such as their impact on local ecosystems and the well-being of workers involved in their production.
A sustainable supply chain is indispensable for reducing the carbon footprint of new buildings. This includes working closely with suppliers to ensure they meet sustainability standards and promoting transparency throughout the supply chain. By engaging with suppliers with the concern of not damaging our environment, the construction industry can incentivize the production of sustainable materials and lessen the demand for less environmentally friendly options.
Think about it: efficient equipment
The amount of energy and fuel consumed by construction machinery can add up quickly, making it one of the primary contributors to things harming our environment. Therefore, it’s of great importance that equipment is running as efficiently as possible. This would mean using high-quality fuels and renewable alternatives, as well as ensuring that equipment is properly lubricated. Keeping equipment well-maintained and up-to-date also plays a role in cutting down fuel consumption and emissions.
Industries should take into account that high-quality fuels burn cleaner and more efficiently than lower-quality fuels, resulting in diminished emissions and improved performance. Moreover, utilizing renewable alternatives such as biodiesel and electric-powered equipment can also eventually minimize the reliance on fossil fuels.
As the construction industry becomes more aware of its impact on the environment, it is heartening to see an increasing commitment to making things better. In addition to everything mentioned above, the companies that actually care about climate change are introducing things like earth-friendly concrete and more. Pro-Mix Concrete is always trying to put the best interest of our environment first. So, when you are working with us, you can be comfortable. We’ll take appropriate measures to not harm the climate.