Published On: Tue, Nov 21st, 2017

Here’s How The Construction industry is Building A Greener Future

Pressure from green groups, wanting to be part of a more responsible company, using a cause to boost marketing efforts, embracing the fact we need to do more environmentally; whatever the underlying reason that saw this sudden shift get underway is irrelevant. What’s important is the fact the construction industry has decided to build green and reduce the amount of harm it throws Mother Nature’s way.

Construction industry

Big residential property projects, infrastructure tasks, laying new railways and just the one-off new build; the need to make a substantial contribution in what has become a green revolution has really found its rhythm. The reason this is so great isn’t just because this sector has become infamous for its damage, but because there are so many avenues in which eco-friendly practices can have a hugely positive impact.

From adopting recyclable methods to reducing the harm placed on local ecosystems, the attitudes have begun to change drastically. This is something that has become apparent before the build, during the build and afterwards, all of which should be music to the ears of anyone that lives on planet earth (which, at the time of writing this, is about 7.442 billion people).

So, without further ado, here is a list of ways in which the construction industry the world over can keep up momentum and improve the impact they have. It’s a brave new world, but it is just the beginning of what is possible:

  1. It Begins With The Buying Process

It doesn’t matter what niche a construction company may be working in, it tends to involve buying a huge amount of raw materials. That is where an obvious step can be made to immediately see a positive change made and it involves buying low-impact building materials. That doesn’t have to mean anything too extreme, such as using sheep’s wool or straw bales for insulation, swapping bricks for clay and concrete for a much more sustainable option. It could just mean using building materials that are recycled or repurposed, or sourcing your lumber from a local manufacturer and using local tradespeople to reduce the transportation costs involved in a build. Of course, it could indeed mean you use blown paper insulation or sourcing waste from another building projects. Whatever it is, from the cement you use to the windows you put in and even the floors you lay down, sourcing your materials responsibly can have an infinitely more positive effect.

  1. Consider The Design Carefully

There has been a huge increase in the amount of eco-homes being built as a result of governmental legislation, something that has addressed a previously ginormous issue in the construction game; the design. These days, the design has to be carefully considered. This is amazing for numerous reasons, but none more so than the longevity of positivity as the carbon footprint is drastically reduced over the long-term. By simply changing the required amount of insulation in cavity walls and attics, a building requires less energy to warm up and cool down. The same principles can be used for recycling water, improving electrical functions and increasing the efficiency of HVAC systems. This is stuff that all effects a home or building after construction is finished and yet it is all relevant to the front end design. That is where architects and engineers come in. It is up to them to consider alternative materials, better natural light, less water waste and just about anything that will decrease operational costs.

  1. It’s All About The Local Ecosystem

There are so many ways a construction site can affect the local ecosystem, which is something that has received unprecedented emphasis in recent years. Simply building in the wrong place can affect the local environment and disrupt a flourishing ecosystem. Roads, railways, infrastructure, utilities and just about every form of urbanization can have an affect. So, while building in rural areas may seem like an obvious choice in terms of space and profitability, it can have the biggest effect in terms of environmental damage. Luckily, there are certain practices that can be introduced to counter this. It could mean adopting a soil removal practice that sees you properly dispose of contaminated soil in order to prevent any lasting damage happening, or it could simply mean reassessing a plot before committing to any movement. The latter suggestion may seem like a foolish one in terms of profitability but, in today’s society, not operating responsibly, can have as much of a negative impact on reputation and bottom line as it can on the world around you.

  1. Modular Methods Are Mega

This is a buzzword that sprung up a few years back, but it has gained in traction, popularity and usage. The reason for this is simple; it ticks the two biggest boxes going – it’s much more efficient and much more affordable than the traditional options. It makes front-end design faster and simpler, it reduces the amount of time needed for construction, limits the amount of wasted materials and reduces the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill. How does it achieve all this? Well, the term ‘modular’ refers to building individual sections of a building that are constructed off-site using state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and processes. That means that each module can be built in the perfect conditions, speeding up the process. These are then transported to the building site in question and erected in a predetermined way. Quick and efficient. As with everything, there was once a caveat in the form of size. That was the biggest limitation. However, these days, with modern technology, you can employ modular methods to make buildings of any size.

  1. Equipment Is Becoming Eco-Friendly

One of the major problems with the construction industry has always been the amount of energy that is consumed. From the moment the manufacturing process begins with the amount of energy that is consumed throughout a project and the ongoing footprint left behind, energy usage has been a problem. However, this is being addressed by the increase in sustainable equipment. One of the most obvious examples of this has been through the use of Diesel Oxidation Catalysts, which reduce emissions by forcing exhaust fumes to pass through a special catalyst that converts the majority of gasses into water and carbon dioxide. Another fantastic example is the huge rise in renewable energy sources, especially solar panels. There has become an over-reliance on electrical power as a result of everything going that way. However, the addition of solar panels can reduce a home’s electrical usage by ten percent and more.

  1. No More Site Waste, Please

For every foot of building that is constructed, between three and five pounds of waste is accumulated. This is the average and we’re talking normal materials too; insulation, drywall, cardboard, metals, glass, bricks, roofing tiles, timber and whatever else you can think of. Not only is this bad for the environment (cough, landfills), it also poses a big problem for your profitability – you paid for that waste. As a result, construction companies have been looking into ways they can reduce these figures and one of the most successful methods has been through waste reduction programs. The steps are relatively simple, but the results have been staggering. Things like properly storing materials, finding ways to reuse materials and recycling what they can have all had a massively positive impact on processes. Of course, it doesn’t start and end with the way a site is managed. Avoiding waste has also seen construction companies work with their suppliers, planning ahead in terms of what they need and returning any unused materials to offset the impact of waste. The suppliers have also been doing their part by reducing the amount of packaging used on their products, which has improved profits and reduced environmental impact.

  1. Use Steel Where Possible

The great thing about steel is it lasts decade after decade after decade. Why else do you think they nicknamed Superman the Man of Steel. But that isn’t the only positive to accompany steel because, on top of lasting a long time, steel can also be recycled at the end of its life allowing construction companies to avoid buying/mining more and tossing perfectly good steel into landfill. Oh, and the positives keep on coming. Steel is also flexible, simple to insulate and able to withstand temperature changes, which makes it fantastic when it comes to lower energy costs. It also poses an efficient option that is easy to install and use, making this one of the most incredible ways to lower your construction footprint. Never underestimate the power of steel.

  1. Promote Green-Practices Within

The people employed by a construction company are the most important assets they have. They are also their best chance at improving their green practices, which is why continued training should be offered on this front. By encouraging and sponsoring green accredited programs, not only are you letting your staff develop and feel more appreciated, you are encouraging a green revolution from the ground up. Educating those that work for you at every level is one of the most efficient ways in which the eco-revolution can continue to blossom.