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Sustainability - 6 min read

Sustainable Construction: Techniques & Trends

Jason Hook

Head of Sales and Marketing

Nov 13, 2019 11:07:47 AM

Sustainability has become a primary focus for many different companies, regardless of industry. Manufacturers, retailers, miners, and builders are all faced with the challenge of implementing sustainable practices during daily operations. However, many companies don’t quite understand what constitutes sustainability. Sustainable construction refers to any technique, process, or project that minimises environmental impact.

Many building activities fall under this category. From using green building materials to harvesting renewable energy, sustainability allows construction companies to attract more customers, reduce costs, and leverage better technologies. This is why you should keep up with sustainable construction techniques and trends.

Every new year provides new opportunities for leveraging sustainability. Watch out for the following trends during this year and beyond.   


Recycling Construction Waste

Construction companies are responsible for sending millions of tonnes of waste to landfills every year. A critical part of sustainability moving forward will be an emphasis on recycling as much as possible. From concrete to scrap metal and plastics, recycling is one of the best ways of being environmentally friendly when building a structure. The idea is to eventually develop circular construction, where old buildings can be demolished and the components reused for a new project.

Technology has made recycling more practical for builders. For example, Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools can be used to evaluate the current materials contained within a specific structure. This allows construction companies to determine how much they can recycle even before the first bulldozer arrives on site.


Building Information Modelling

Sustainability in construction is also being fuelled by Building Information Modelling (BIM). BIM tools promote sustainability by streamlining workflows from the beginning of a project until its completion. For example, builders can calculate the environmental footprint of various green building materials such as bio-concrete, grasscrete, and wool bricks. Not only can you develop better material estimates with BIM, but you can also set specific goals for your end projects. You can use 3D and 4D models to determine carbon footprint, utility costs, and other variables that affect your green building initiatives.

But BIM tools help with much more than material planning. They also help builders coordinate workflows in a manner that reduces project timelines and energy consumption. When buildings are completed faster and less time is spent using high emission machinery, your sustainability efforts will be recognisable by clients and the industry at large.


Encouraging employee wellness in construction companies

More builders, engineers, and subcontractors are encouraging their employees to engage in wellness programs. While a large part of sustainability is about using environmentally friendly techniques for physical structures, the human aspect is also becoming increasingly recognised. 

Construction workers who are physically and mentally healthy can provide high-quality services to their companies. More specifically, they can suggest sustainability ideas that will keep you one step ahead of the competition. You can promote employee wellness in your building business by encouraging social workspaces, regulating work hours, and providing time off for workers to “recharge.”


Increased investments in renewable energy

Renewable energy such as wind, solar, and electricity will be a central part of sustainability moving forward. More construction companies are investing in renewable energy to reduce environmental degradation, save costs, and improve efficiency. Solar power is perhaps the most common renewable resource being leveraged across the industry.

Builders are incorporating solar panels into new building designs to make the structure have a net-zero energy impact. For example, HVAC systems that use solar power can help building owners save significantly on utility costs. Furthermore, solar-powered construction tools are enabling builders to spend less on oil and other fossil fuels. The rising popularity of solar is also driven by the fact that these tools (photovoltaic cells) cost much less than they used to in past years.


Using data to identify opportunities in sustainability

Big data and analytics are critical components of the sustainability movement. Builders are using insights from analytics to evaluate the effectiveness of green building materials, long-term energy savings, and maintenance costs.

An entire building can be monitored using a collection of software to analyse its overall performance. Construction machines, materials used, utility bills, and site information are all sources of data that can be leveraged during analytics.

You can develop a predictive maintenance plan for your projects while continuously implementing more effective sustainability plans.


Upgrading current structures for energy efficiency

In addition to designing new energy-efficient buildings, the construction industry is also focusing on how they can improve the state of existing structures. Upgrading current buildings with energy-efficient components can help protect the environment.

For example, existing structures can be better insulated to reduce heating/cooling costs. Repairs can also be carried out using green building materials or recyclables. And by adding BIM tools to old structures, advanced technologies can be applied to improve performance. 


Being proud of your green initiatives

The more you invest in sustainable construction, the more you should use it as a selling point for attracting more customers. Clients, employees, and other stakeholders are paying attention to renewable energy use, modular construction, green building materials, and water conservation. Therefore, you should draw attention to these sustainability aspects during current and future projects. This can be done by explaining your construction workflows, providing material lists, and naming sustainable partners who drive your environmentally-friendly efforts.

The same way customers pay attention to food labels when grocery shopping, you can attract similar attention and understanding to your building techniques. Clients who are aware and confident of your green initiatives will be more likely to engage with your company over the competition.

Sustainability is the future of the construction industry. By leveraging sustainable techniques and trends, you can significantly improve productivity, attract more clients, and save on costs. Don’t get left behind in taking care of the environment- take advantage of these emergent trends during your projects moving forward. 

Adopting digital solutions can help you move your construction company  towards a more sustainable future. Transitioning from time-consuming, manual estimating to digital estimating software like Cubit will allow you to plan projects more effectively and save you some precious time. Discover the smarter way to estimate with a 14-day free trial today.


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