Sustainable construction involves using renewable materials and energy, and decreasing waste throughout the construction process. This is a trend that has seen increasing popularity in the industry.
Architects are seeking more information about the sustainability of products from suppliers. One way to do this is through the BRE’s MMC Category 2 dynamic purchasing system (DPS). Here are tips for being more sustainable in your construction work: 1. Use recycled materials.
1. Use Renewable Energy
The construction industry has a huge impact on the environment, consuming natural resources at a fast rate and polluting the air during the building process. From raw materials sourced in polluted water tables to material fabrication, shipping and heavy machinery usage, all parts of the construction process can damage natural habitats and leave behind irreparable environmental damage. However, sustainable construction practices can mitigate these effects and create buildings that are truly green and ecofriendly.
The goal of sustainable construction is to sustain and restore as much of the natural environment around a building as possible while also minimizing the amount of energy required for its operation and maintenance. One of the ways that this can be done is through the use of renewable energy. Using solar, wind and thermal energy to provide a home with the power that it needs to run is an excellent way to reduce a building’s carbon footprint.
Another way to make a construction project more sustainable is to choose materials that are local to the area. Using materials that are easy to source and transport helps cut down on the energy needed for transportation and the pollution caused by burning fossil fuels. Sustainable construction also considers the impact that a building will have on the local environment after it is completed. This is why projects are sited where they will do the least amount of harm to natural habitats and the construction process is completed in a manner that won’t affect wildlife habitation.
During the construction process, sustainable contractors will work to avoid releasing harmful chemicals into the environment. This includes choosing low VOC paints and finishes that don’t release harsh fumes. In addition to this, sustainable builders will install HVAC systems that are efficient and can remove dust, mold spores and other allergens from indoor environments.
Buildings consume a lot of water and sustainable construction will look for ways to reduce that consumption, as well as reusing or recycling water where possible. For example, low-flow toilets can help to reduce the amount of water a building uses and some types of sink faucets automatically turn off when not in use or aerate the water to minimize water usage.
2. Reuse and Recycle
Building materials, like concrete and wood, aren’t necessarily renewable, but there are ways that they can be reused or recycled. Steel, for instance, is made from recycled scrap metal, which is a great choice when building with sustainability in mind. Other materials, like drywall, can be repurposed into new building components, rather than thrown out, and many builders now offer to buy back old material for recycling.
Reusing and recycling construction materials is a great way to lower a project’s environmental impact and save money at the same time. Aside from lowering waste disposal costs, a builder can also receive tax credits for doing so. Using sustainable materials can also help a builder qualify for BREEAM and LEED certification, which can be good for business. A crane for rent would also be more cost-effective than purchasing a brand new one if you’re not planning on creating a construction business.
One of the biggest environmental impacts of building is that it creates a lot of waste. However, the industry is working to decrease this impact by minimizing waste and reducing emissions. Some of these measures include using low-emissions concrete, focusing on local sourcing, and using walk-off mats to prevent contaminants from entering the building. These practices are putting the industry on the path towards zero-waste buildings.
Some materials can even be recycled onsite, which cuts down on transportation needs and helps reduce pollution. For example, concrete can be crushed and used in foundations or as aggregate underneath parking lots, which is a much more environmentally friendly solution than sending it to the landfill.
Similarly, paper waste can be turned into wood for new building components. This is a growing area of innovation, with companies such as Newspaper Wood creating wood products out of paper that can be used in building projects.
It’s important to keep sustainability in mind from the start of a project, so a builder can choose the right materials for their sustainability goals. They should ask an expert to help them identify which low-cost reusable materials will work best for their specific project and then test these materials out on a pilot project before integrating them into larger projects. Once a builder finds a material that works, they should make sure all staff know how to properly use and recycle it.
3. Source Materials Ethically
Sustainable building practices are not just environmentally friendly, but they are also a way to increase profitability and reduce the risk of legal action. For example, by using sustainable materials that are sourced ethically (like timber with traceable origins), companies can meet compliance requirements and avoid the risks of conflict minerals, modern-day slavery, and child labour.
Ethical sourcing is all about being transparent with customers and making sure that the raw materials used to make products are sourced from responsible suppliers that adhere to ethical norms. This includes adhering to the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles, which include respect for human rights and environmental sustainability.
Construction companies that source their products ethically are helping to support local economies, especially in developing nations. In turn, this helps to boost employment and foster economic growth in these communities. Furthermore, by incorporating sustainable and ethical construction practices into their projects, contractors can also benefit from the added advantage of being able to attract, retain, and motivate employees.
The use of sustainable materials is a great way to save on energy and resources. For instance, using recycled steel rather than virgin ore cuts down on the amount of energy that is required to extract metal from the earth. Also, using wood framing that is engineered to be structurally sound, such as CLT, means that less of the structure needs to be supported by a concrete or steel foundation.
Other sustainable construction methods are becoming more popular, such as modular construction. This allows homes and buildings to be built offsite in a controlled factory, which can cut the cost of labour by up to 50 per cent. By spending less time on site, companies are also reducing their carbon footprint.
Moreover, by adopting sustainable construction techniques, companies can help to conserve water and other natural resources that may be needed for the project. By keeping track of material deliveries, companies can make sure that they only purchase the exact quantity that they need – thereby cutting down on waste. Also, by utilizing a software like Qflow, they can improve transparency and efficiency on-site, saving even more resources.
4. Invest in Forest Restoration
Forest landscape restoration is the most cost-effective nature-based solution to reduce carbon emissions, improve climate resilience and halt biodiversity loss. It has emerged as an alternative holistic approach to traditional sustainability approaches and should be a core component of corporate strategies for net-zero goals.
But the world still needs to raise significant capital to scale up forest restoration. And while the business case is strong, many barriers remain. One important incentive is the potential for restoration projects to generate emission reductions that can be counted against internal climate commitments. This has resulted in a growing interest from corporations to invest in forest landscape restoration within supply chains and via insetting.
However, such investments will only grow if investors can see a clear return on investment profile. The challenge is how to create a risk-adjusted ROI for these types of projects. The answer is likely to lie in developing market mechanisms that will allow the monetization of specific components or benefits of restoration projects. This will include new markets and products like building materials, timber, or even biochar and soil amendments.
One such example is the development of a “Forest Resilience Bond” to promote forest landscape restoration in California and elsewhere, as a way of warding off drought and fire. This is a blended finance initiative that combines government and foundation grant funding with private finance and a series of tradable green bonds. The idea is to spread investment risk across several actors, increase the total investment amount and boost liquidity by making the bonds tradable securities.
This is the kind of project that can attract impact investors and conventional asset managers looking for new ways to hedge against reputational risks from more unsustainable assets, or to diversify their portfolios in a bid to avoid stranded investment. But such incentives will not drive investment unless the business case for restoring forests is clarified and the associated benefits quantified. This will require a concerted effort by businesses, governments, investors and others who have an interest in driving the scale-up of forest landscape restoration. This will ultimately enable the ambitious goals set by the Glasgow Leaders Declaration to be achieved, and the world to meet the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.