Construction companies have, without a doubt, an incontestable role in the economy, improving society day after day, providing jobs, and creating spaces and buildings that connect communities. Nevertheless, there is a very serious matter regarding construction projects – what kind of impact have they had on the environment?
According to the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), the construction and building industry accounted for 39% of all carbon emissions globally in 2019: 11% from construction and materials and 28% from operational emissions and energy necessary to fuel them. Thinking about the situation this way, we come to realize that this industry needs serious education on the matter of eco-friendliness. Fortunately, increasingly more companies have become aware of the risk and started considering solutions in this sense.
Finally, contractors and subcontractors have a chance to make responsible decisions regarding design elements, materials used in construction, and transportation methods. If you are one of those looking to do the exact same thing, you have come to the right place.
Here, you will find forceful practices that can not only help reduce your business’s carbon footprint but also push your company forward toward development and innovation. Read on for precious advice.
Explore safer, more sustainable building materials
Construction materials like asphalt shingles and concrete are, indeed, durable, but so are they harmful to the environment. Instead, alternative, eco-friendly materials such as bamboo, cork, and denim are available and dispose of just the same strength and versatility as the ones formerly mentioned. Plus, by depending more frequently on construction materials produced sustainably, buildings themselves are likely to be greener during their whole lifecycle. Awareness of this issue has become a priority, all the more so since about 93.4% of overall construction CO2 emissions come from the very material production stage.
Another way to make your part for the planet is by opting for recycled materials like steel. Sustainability in steel recycling has a real momentum today, as people are thrilled to discover that a single ton of steel that is recycled conserves 1,400 pounds of coal, 120 pounds of limestone, and an imposing amount of 2,500 pounds of iron ore.
Here is a list of materials you can investigate to carve out the framework for a greener business:
- sustainable concrete mixed made up, among others, of recycled materials
- solar tiles that, once incorporated into a building, can produce natural power
- wool bricks made from non-toxic materials and much more potent than regular bricks
- eco-friendly insulation materials like bales of straw, wool, recycled cotton, and wood fiber
- natural materials, counting recycled mycelium (a fascinating material made from fungi root) and plastic, bamboo, and hempcrete (concrete + hemp)
Source materials locally
Material transportation can account for a substantial amount of carbon footprint, so the go-to option to solve this is simply orienting yourself toward local suppliers. So, ensure you select suppliers that use readily available materials in your area and focus on those that can save you money. Apart from the obvious upside of becoming greener, you can also benefit from healthier partnerships, quicker deliveries, and more control over your supply chain.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Transferring architectural proposals from sketches into the ground will always produce some waste. The purpose is, of course, not to produce debris at all, but since this is almost impossible, we will focus on minimizing this waste. The demolition process generates the largest amounts of waste, so ensure you can reuse and recycle this debris afterward.
Materials, including steel and concrete, have numerous uses after demolition, so consider making the most of them. Crushed concrete, for instance, can be later exploited as aggregate below parking spaces or foundations. Plywood, glass, metal parts, plastic, and expanded polystyrene (EPS) are all materials that can be successfully recycled.
EPS, for example, can be used as insulation, drainage in the base of plant pots, food trays, and various types of packaging. So, if you work with lots of EPS, ensure you use a machine for recycling EPS and give the material other meaningful uses.
That being said, do your best to separate and organize recycling materials adequately so that they do not end up in landfills.
Eco-conscious building design
The first opportunity to make a tangible change comes in the very planning/design phase. Here, you can include sustainability, from incorporating green energy and choosing natural or recycled construction materials to selecting window placements that boost the amount of natural light a house gets. Also, adding smart appliances such as HVAC systems and thermostats to your design can substantially minimize a building’s energy consumption.
The construction industry is not only about demolition and building – there is construction bureaucracy and paper documents contractors carry on the job site, too. In other words, this sector consumes paper – tons of paper.
If you did not yet take the digital route, we advise you to do so. How? Simply – by incorporating construction site management systems and tools that, luckily, can be found in a great variety. You can bring technology into your construction business workplace, opting for everything from online platforms to software applications.
There are tracking tools that can help you determine when the debris is being produced during a job, making it possible for you to lessen waste more efficiently and recover materials that can be recycled. Similarly, utility monitoring systems can help you track the use of energy and water and thus make more pertinent decisions regarding their use on the construction site.
You can also benefit from smart technology like monitors, IoT (Internet of Things), and sensors to get a more comprehensive insight into your work’s resource consumption over the years and better coordinate activity on the site.
Environmental awareness has become a major priority in domains like education and transportation and construction. Thousands of building companies worldwide are already on their way to making their projects more sustainable, so are you in? We assure you that this step will bring you nothing but benefits!
To know more, read our articles What is business ethics give an example of unethical business practice? and Effective Marketing Tactics for Construction Contractors