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Building sustainability in the construction industry

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Sustainability in the construction sector is developing every day, with more and more demand for greener and cleaner spaces. It is vital for a handful of different reasons, including better environmental quality and a better quality of life. We will need to have clean natural resources, and a non-toxic environment to enable us to have healthy and thriving communities. 

As the consequences increase due to climate change, the importance of sustainability becomes more and more vital. This is not limited to just large corporations either. Small, medium and large businesses can change their methods for the benefit of the environment and for the people. Anyone in the sector can help push forward the efforts needed for the sustainability of the industry and the future.

How do we do that?

Methods and Processes
Starting your construction project isn’t strictly just about using the newest materials. It is also about utilizing methods and processes that will enhance and support sustainable efforts.
For your organization to be sustainable you need to make the efforts an inherent part of your processes. It is easy to fall into the pitfall of seeing sustainable changes as an add-on, especially if you have been doing business with the same procedures for a long time. But it is more efficient and cost-effective to start with sustainability in your headspace.

One of the ways you could start your sustainable journey is by establishing new vendors who provide sustainable materials. You can also change your hiring processes and prioritize candidates with experience in sustainable construction. Another option for this is to train up your current employees for the changes your business is experiencing. So, they can adapt better.

Ensuring sustainability on site
The change to sustainability can be one of the most difficult aspects of this business sector. Structures are being built using natural resources. And those same resources are normally thrown out when it is no longer useful. For example, a project to remodel a house can result in throwing away a lot of materials that were used due to design changes. This process can immediately deplete our natural resources at an alarming rate.

But the way materials are handled is not the only issue. The process of constructing itself can also have a massive impact on the environment. Building sites, equipment, and tools take massive amounts of energy. The energy used and sourced can impact our emissions. These emissions can change how the landscape can capture water as well as affect the stability of the foundation.

If we reduce the energy we consume during construction and shift from fossil fuels to electrically powered machinery or equipment, this can improve the efficiency of the building site and reduce the negative impact of our carbon emissions.

Repurpose and Design
The architects of today are facing the challenge of creating a design that serves more than one purpose. They need to create a building that can be reconfigured to meet changing needs. By creating designs where structures can be reused instead of demolished, we can also reduce the amount of waste that fills up our landfills. This will also reduce the consumption of available raw materials.

Because of the changes in demand, solutions are being developed that will support sustainability in construction. For example, circular designs are replacing the old cycle of construction design which is; to build, use, and dispose of. These new designs are developed for the reduction of waste, reuse of materials, and the regeneration of natural systems. This will ensure a decrease in environmental impact.

Currently, building materials are not designed to be repurposed or recycled. This is problematic because of the massive amount of waste and the use of raw materials. The extraction of raw materials and their treatment of it, is taxing for the environment and causes both local and global damage.
It is vital then to consider the materials to be used in building new structures or renovating old buildings. Use materials that can be sustainable and recycled. Recycling is a vital component of the circular economy.

There is also a new generation of materials that are stronger and lighter and much more sustainable. This can help solve problems within the industry as well as shift the current practices to be much more sustainable. These materials have the additional benefit of protecting the environment by the reduction of their carbon footprint.

Switching to prefabrication has two primary benefits. First, it allows for economies to scale with their employee’s production of its components in an assembly line. This procedure will increase efficiency and speed, making it easy for you to deliver customizable solutions although, it is achieved through various other components that are put together like a puzzle to accomplish the final design.

The other benefit of using prefabrication is the reduction of energy consumption. The use of heavy machinery to move items from one place to another uses a large amount of fuel. Using transportation only for necessary and required components can save you substantial amounts of fuel.

Suppliers who source locally
An additional change you can integrate into your business is by working with suppliers who provide widely available materials. You can also put more emphasis or effort on using materials that will cost you less to transport such as prefabricated components.

Efficient use of equipment
Use your equipment efficiently, because every moment or minute that your machinery is idle, or used inappropriately increases not only your energy costs but your entire project’s carbon emission. So, plan your workday ahead to ensure that each piece of equipment or any other related material is ready when you need it.

One vital component to supporting sustainability in your business is by embedding or integrating sustainable practices into everything you do rather than forcing it around your current existing processes.
As a whole, the industry stands to gain and benefit from the environment however, that doesn’t mean it should be abused. Tighter and better regulations can also lead to innovation, as companies adapt their products and services to meet the new sustainable requirements, without sacrificing their profits. With the change in the market, consumers are after all now more aware of the environmental and health benefits of sustainable structures. And companies with a proven record of accomplishment in sustainable designs will have a competitive edge against the rest of their competitors. So, don’t fall behind and adapt to the change.

Shivendra helps construction companies and contractors win more projects and grow profitably. Regarded as a master of practical implementation, Shivendra has guided organizations such as Downer and Siemens as well as smaller contractors to achieve double-digit improvements to their bottom line. Underpinning his extensive industry experience are qualifications in engineering and a PhD focused on rapid cost improvement techniques. He is the author of two books, The Competitive Contractor and From Paper to Profit, the host of the Competitive Contractor podcast, and the founder of Shivendra & Co and The Constructors Network. You can find more about Shivendra & Co on