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Sustainability in Construction, What is it?

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The goal of sustainable construction is to decrease the environmental impact of the sector by using practices that involve the use of efficient energy and green technology. It is the practice of developing a healthy environment based on ecological principles. It focuses on the conservation, recycling, reuse, the protection of nature, the creation of high-quality and non-toxic materials and methods.

There are so many different industries that are doing what they can to be more sustainable. The construction industry is no different although, it is unique because it can greatly affect the way these practices are executed or applied. This is due to the massive amounts of energy and materials it uses.
The world of construction is a big user of natural resources but with the concerns over climate change growing more and more with each passing day, plus the finite nature of resources available, this sector is experiencing more pressure for them to reduce their impact on the environment.

Besides the glaring fact that buildings are being constructed over wild habitats, the industry uses large amounts of energy. The machinery used to create structures still relies heavily on fossil fuels. Truth be told, the industry accounts for 36% of the energy used worldwide. Shipping and the fabrication of materials has a big impact on carbon emissions as well. Mining or harvesting of raw materials can also result in the pollution of the local water sources. This industry also contributes to hazardous wastes with improper disposals of materials polluting the environment. Because of the very nature of this industry, it faces a large and significant amount of challenges for it to reduce its environmental footprint.

The construction industry has the capacity of making substantial contributions to a sustainable future. If we consider the large amounts of resources that are needed to produce and maintain a structure, and the waste generated within the entire use of the building, as well as the extent of global urbanization. Then it becomes more evident, that whatever is constructed must perform sustainably in terms of; economic, social, and environmental factors. These critical changes are required to meet modern sustainable requirements to protect our world and future.

But let’s be clear on what it means to be sustainable. This is after all one of the most talked-about topics for this industry. Although this is a well-discussed topic, the very term itself is normally misunderstood or misinterpreted. Plus, there is a tendency for the entire subject matter to be treated superficially through various eco or green rhetoric.

What is sustainable construction?
For us to understand what it is, we need to know who the stakeholders are. For example, if your firm is hired for a project, there is already more than one stakeholder involved. That would be your client, the local government, and your firm. These stakeholders influence the entire process and output of the project.

There are other stakeholders that we need to consider for our projects to be sustainable. First is the community. If you start the process of creating a building and you know that it will generate a lot of toxic waste then you need to find a way to dispose of it somewhere else. Because the people that live there could be affected by that waste. If we shift how we perceive the community then we can change how we proceed with our construction process that will acknowledge that stakeholder.

The second stakeholder that we need to take into consideration is the environment. If the methods we use have an excessive amount of non-renewable energy or produces a lot of waste, then we would be hurting the environment. This would be counter-productive to this stakeholder. If we value the preservation of the environment, then we must use methods that will support that. If not, then we need to find another way to offset the harm that we are causing.

Sustainable construction isn’t about those who put money into a project. It is about creating a solution to answer the needs of each concerned stakeholder. It means embracing the environment and the communities involved and having concern for them as well as the long-term endurance of humanity.

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 Ph.D. focused on rapid cost improvement techniques. He is the author of two books, The Competitive Contractor and From Paper to Profit, host of the Competitive Contractor podcast, and the founder of Shivendra & Co and The Constructors Network. You can find more about Shivendra & Co on