Why Is Sustainability In Construction Important?

By its very nature, the construction industry is highly dependent on natural resources – it is one of the largest users of global, natural resources and a high contributor to pollution. Amidst growing concerns over climate change, the industry has received increasing pressure in order to reduce its environmental impact.

It is important for the construction industry to consider using eco friendly methods to support the environment in the long term, whilst also meeting the demands of an expanding population. Advances in technology offer a range of new possibilities to meet energy use and building energy needs. Although there are challenges involved with implementing sustainable construction methods, there are also a huge number of benefits involved, too.

What Is Sustainable Construction?

Sustainable construction involves building using recyclable and renewable materials and resources. For the duration of construction projects, it’s important that care is taken to reduce waste and, where possible, energy consumption in order to protect both the environment around the site and the greater community.

The overall goal of sustainable construction is to reduce the impact that the industry has on the environment. Some sustainable construction methods include:

  • The use of renewable and recyclable materials
  • Reducing the amount of embodied energy within building materials
  • Minimising the energy consumption of the building when finished
  • Reducing the volume of waste produced on site
  • Protecting local and wider natural habitats both during and after the construction phase

What Are The Challenges of Sustainable Construction?

It is not an overnight process to adopt sustainable construction methods. One of the biggest contributing factors to the success of becoming sustainable is the client’s attitudes and budgets available.

Architects are also one of the biggest contributors to sustainable construction projects being successful as, after all, architects will drive a large volume of construction work. Architects should have the latest thinking on issues such as the following:

  • Sustainable water cycles
  • Net-zero operation and embodied carbon
  • Sustainable land use
  • Good practices of health and wellbeing

There will always be pressures when it comes to sustainability in construction and reducing costs where this is possible. There are still, however, concerns that by implementing sustainable construction practices will end up costing organisations and contractors more in the long run.

A study recently shows that around 40% of UK construction companies reported that affordability in sustainable practices was the greatest concern for their operations. Almost 50% of UK firms also said that they would expect green building and construction projects to be higher cost. If you pair those figures with the fact that around 34% of construction firms have reported that client demand for greener builds has increased, you can understand why some construction companies are still conflicted.

There are some positives, however. Although demand for green and sustainable construction has increased, the value of green buildings is also on the rise. It is expected that sustainable builds are worth around 7% more than traditional buildings and this is largely the result of reduced operating costs that come from the fact that the buildings are more energy efficient.

What Are The Benefits Of Sustainable Construction?

Implementing and adopting sustainable building practices and construction methods will reduce the impact that your organisation has on the environment. The quality of the build and design can also bring long-term reputational benefits, as well as corporate and social ones.

It’s important to remember that constructing green and sustainable buildings does come with lower operational costs and research suggests that using sustainable technologies within the construction process can produce an estimated £410 billion a year in savings on global energy spending.

There are also direct benefits and savings for businesses and companies. Sustainable buildings also see a reduction in waste which then will see a decrease in the fees charged by waste management.

Why Is Sustainable Construction Important?

The construction industry has a huge impact on the environment. From energy usage to emissions, there are numerous ways in which construction contributes to global energy usage. Around 36% of energy usage is accounted for by the construction industry, and it is responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions.

Heavy machinery used within the construction phase is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, which are one of the leading contributors to global warming and pollution. The construction industry is also largely responsible for the energy used within a constructed building.

Fabrication and shipping of materials can also have an impact upon carbon emissions. Raw material mining can lead to the pollution of waterways, whilst the manufacturing of cement results in global emissions of 2.8bn tonnes of CO2 per year.

These facts show the importance of sustainability within the construction industry and why making changes, no matter how small, can have significant impacts on making the industry greener on the whole. By making more sustainable business practices, you are not only helping the environment, but are making your construction business more appealing to clients. Every step of your construction, from initial architectural design and planning to the commercial fit out company you use, should be decided with sustainability in mind.

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