Environmental Digital Journalist

June 24, 2021

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Construction

5 ways to create a more sustainable construction site

Construction gets a bad rap when it comes to the environment. People automatically assume that anything man-made is bad for the planet – and it doesn’t get much more ‘man-made’ than a construction site!

earthIt doesn’t have to be like that, though. There are plenty of ways to protect the planet as you’re building. What’s more, you don’t have to compromise on ease or quality as you do so. Sustainable construction is the future.

Amongst the many challenges involved in sustainable construction practices, here, Sophie Bishop discusses five ways to ensure your next construction site is as sustainable as possible.

Use sustainable materials

You’d be amazed at the ecological footprint even the simplest building materials leave. Concrete, for example, is a construction staple – but producing it releases a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – with reports showing that concrete is responsible for 4-8% of the world’s CO2.

What are the alternatives? Well, you’d be surprised. Sustainable building materials are everywhere, and they’re very effective. For example, using straw bales instead of concrete/rebar has proven to be sustainable, environmentally friendly as when the time comes straw bales are 100% biodegradable, just as effective as concrete, and lots cheaper too.

Look into swapping less sustainable materials for things like bamboo, rammed earth, recycled plastics, mycelium, FSC-certified wood, and so on.

Dispose of waste responsibly

The waste-free construction site is a pipe dream. We all know that, in order to build something up, you have to tear a lot down. However, what you do with all those torn-down materials does make a difference.

Rather than sending everything to landfill, reuse or recycle what you can in your construction business. You’d be amazed at what can be recycled and the benefits of doing so – masonry, metal, plastics, plywood, glass, lumber, and more can all be either recycled or used in other construction projects.

Recycling and reuse can, when done properly, can save you a lot of money on both materials and waste disposal. It also improves your standing in the industry and helps to draw in potential new clients. Both government and consumer attention are increasingly focused on environmental credentials – and companies all over the country are taking notice. The future belongs to companies who make an effort when it comes to the environment.

Recycling companies have noticed a big difference in corporate attitudes to waste disposal and recycling across the board. Recently, heavier scrutiny has been placed on finding ‘greener’ alternatives, with an emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibilities. That’s led to a big uptake in things like recycling services, and a shift to more local waste disposal. In the long term, this actually saves companies a lot of money as well as saving the planet.

Transport efficiently

The carbon footprint of construction transport adds up quickly. Keep a close eye on your fleet, and try to manage your transport system as efficiently as possible. For example, work out the most carbon-efficient routes to take from A to B. Don’t make two trips when one will do. Keep your fleet well-maintained, and consider switching to eco-friendly fuels.

Managing your transport fleet effectively can save you money and make your operation more efficient overall. Reducing environmental impact is a bonus!

Take steps to prevent run-off

We all know that poorly managed construction sites have the potential to leak all kinds of nasty chemicals into the environment. It’s vital that you take steps to protect local water and soil as you build. Take note of things like nearby watercourses, the natural flow of the land, and anything else that could help you protect the environment from leakage and run-off.

Use things like silt-fences to prevent soil from washing away, and make sure that contaminants are kept well away from watercourses.

Go digital

Construction companies in the UK that have embraced technological innovations set to be at the forefront of the industry in 2021. Things like paper specs and plans may not seem like a big deal, but the impact adds up. Embracing the digital age will help your organisation to save a huge amount of paper (and therefore trees). It will also cut down on litter and should eliminate the problem of people losing vital documentation.

Good construction management software can help you out in other ways, too. It helps to keep everyone on the same page and can make your operation a lot more efficient overall.

Build your business and protect the planet

There are clear ethical reasons to invest in sustainable construction practices. But it also makes excellent business sense. Sustainable materials are often cheaper than non-sustainable alternatives. Going digital makes sharing and using things like plans and specs much more efficient. Good fleet management lowers both your carbon footprint and your fuel costs. And recycling can bring unexpected benefits – like reduced waste disposal costs, and money saved on materials.

What’s more, sustainable companies have the edge over their less sustainable competitors in this eco-conscious world. Sustainability is a big selling point. Follow these tips to help protect the planet and build your business. You won’t regret it!

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