There has been an increased interest in industries that are focused on sustainability. New generations want to support businesses that practice eco-friendly methods to ensure a promising future. One such sector is construction.
Sustainable construction goes beyond building environmentally friendly buildings and other projects. It takes sustainable practices throughout the entire process. It combines both sustainable methods and materials to reduce overall waste and environmental impact.
Many materials go to waste within the construction industry, and the equipment isn’t the most eco-friendly. Concrete, asphalt, wood and metal pile up, and the pressure increases for workers to recycle these items.
Fortunately, the construction industry has found ways to be more sustainable over the years. However, they can still make further improvements and efforts. They have the chance to make more responsible choices when selecting materials, transportation methods and design elements for buildings.
The changes toward environmental stability will take time, but in the meantime, here are seven ways the construction industry needs to move toward sustainability. Implementing these practices will make a huge difference to the planet and its inhabitants.
1. Keep Sustainability Efforts a Priority
The construction industry must plan to keep sustainability a priority. Making it an inherent part of the business can change the entire industry. Having a solid plan of action toward eco-friendliness will set the course for a successful sustainable business.
It’s more efficient and cost-effective to start with sustainability in mind from the very beginning, even well before plans for a project begin. Incorporating training and lessons on eco-friendliness is a great way to get everyone involved and change people’s mindsets toward a minimal environmental impact. Building sustainability into each aspect of construction is better than forcing it around existing practices.
2. Prioritize Local Suppliers
Another way the construction industry needs to move toward sustainability is through its supply chain. It’s easy to get materials from large suppliers thousands of miles away. However, the further away a supplier is, the more costs go into transportation. Long distances between the manufacturer and construction site mean a more significant amount of carbon emissions.
Construction companies or sites near a local supplier for concrete, wood or other material should purchase from them. Buying local will boost the economy and reduce harmful emissions that come with miles of transportation.
3. Only Use Equipment When Necessary
Efficient use of equipment can decrease energy costs and the project’s overall carbon footprint. Heavy machinery users will often allow the machines or vehicles to sit idle, releasing harmful and unnecessary emissions.. Construction workers can significantly reduce their environmental impact by only using equipment when necessary or when it’s ready for the job.
Construction teams should plan their workdays so every piece of equipment or device needing energy is ready and only used when needed. Long term, workers can look for ways to reduce their need for heavy machinery and power tools or convert them to electric-powered vehicles and machines.
4. Reuse Equipment and Repair It Rather Than Buying New
Construction sites can reuse equipment or repair minor parts rather than opting for new heavy machinery. Sometimes, managers may overlook buying used rental equipment. Typically, equipment dealers will try to offer the latest models when an older piece of equipment works just as well.
This is more cost-effective for the construction industry than always purchasing new equipment. Plus, it’s better for the environment because as long as a piece of heavy machinery is still in use, the energy and materials needed to make a new one won’t be required. This reduces the carbon footprint, waste and harmful emissions.
5. Opt for Eco-Friendly Building Materials
Relying on building materials produced sustainably will allow construction projects to be more eco-friendly throughout their entire life cycles. Workers can use recycled or recyclable materials to reduce waste, production costs and energy. Recycled materials are readily available, and often, already-refurbished materials can be used again.
Builders can also seek suppliers with sustainable production methods. This rewards other companies who are doing their part to move toward sustainability, and it ensures a reduced carbon footprint throughout the construction supply chain. In addition to using recycled materials, the sector can recycle its own waste to reduce what goes into landfills every year.
6. Prefabricate Certain Materials in Controlled Environments
Many construction companies are choosing to prefabricate some parts of their building projects. This is a step in the right direction toward sustainability, especially when done in a controlled environment. It allows for greater speed and efficient use of materials and energy. Prefabrication involves assembling parts of a structure at a manufacturing facility and transporting them to a different location.
Modular homes are one example of prefabricated buildings. This type of construction is more sustainable because of the assembly process and affordable running costs. It takes nearly 70 percent less energy to manufacture a prefab building than it does for a conventional structure. These can also be recycled to reduce environmental impact.
7. Cut Down on Noise and Air Pollution
The construction industry can move toward sustainability by cutting down on noise pollution. Part of being a sustainable sector is appealing to society. Those living and working near building sites are exposed to loud noises and high amounts of air pollution, especially when demolition occurs.
Construction firms can restrict the use of heavy equipment to daylight hours so as not to disturb populations at night. This also minimizes the time engines spend idling, which reduces overall air pollution, too. Air quality is becoming more critical than ever, especially with the number of emissions from vehicles and manufacturers, so any method to decrease it will help people and the environment.
Small Steps Toward Sustainability in Construction
Each of these ways the construction industry needs to move toward green practices will take time. That will lead to reduced emissions, less waste, sustainable practices and environmental friendliness as a priority. The construction industry has come a long way in its journey toward sustainability, but it can’t stop here.