Sustainability is the new hot topic that's sweeping across many different industries. Customers are looking to become involved in projects, products, or initiatives that don't deplete the limited resources we have available. This is why electric cars, sustainable timber, and renewable energy have become popular in recent years.
However, the construction industry has been left behind when it comes to sustainability. Activities such as digging foundations, mining metal ores, and drilling can all cause environmental degradation. So how can your construction business implement techniques that cause minimal harm to the environment?
Even before diving into specific steps you can take towards sustainability, you should first understand what defines sustainability. Sustainable construction is the process of ensuring that every project is planned and executed in a manner that minimises environmental degradation. To achieve this goal, you need to involve all relevant stakeholders. The project owner, construction company, suppliers, and community are all key to achieving sustainability.
You may be wondering why sustainability is such a widespread effort. The effects of toxic waste, noise pollution, and resource depletion directly impact the community. Project owners are also financially affected by sustainability. For example, those buildings that can boast energy-efficient designs and high recycling standards are able to save on operating costs while attracting more customers. And construction companies that can implement sustainable practices will attract more clients and enjoy higher margins in 2019 and beyond.
The government and local authorities are also critical stakeholders in sustainability. Government bodies set regulations that directly impact construction. For example, laws that limit toxic waste dumping in water bodies have helped streamline construction and manufacturing activities. Furthermore, tax credits and deductions for using sustainable energy have helped promote the adoption of green building materials, recycling, wind, solar, and electricity.
Sustainability in construction is a growing trend that your business should follow. Sustainable companies have a competitive edge, a loyal client base, and a stronger brand. They're also able to save on costs by using green building materials and remaining compliant with evolving government regulations.
But how can your construction business achieve sustainable operations in 2019 and beyond?
The mistake that many construction companies make is to consider sustainability as an additional chore or expense. Sustainable operations should be your primary objective during any project. This means that you should have a framework for determining areas where you can save on resources and implement green alternatives.
Construction companies can also emphasise energy-efficient designs in buildings. Digital tools such as 3D modelling, laser scanning, and estimation software can be programmed to calculate energy-efficient alternatives that you can recommend for your clients.
Sustainable construction becomes exciting when you consider green building materials. Engineers are working round the clock to produce construction materials that are innovative, energy-efficient, and cost-effective.
These materials can also purify the air and eliminate contaminants in the process. For example, sustainable timber reduces CO2 levels in the atmosphere as well as harmful emissions. Self-healing concrete allows your building to remain tough against leaks, cracks, and weather damage. Wool bricks are excellent insulators and can reduce the amount of energy a building consumes every year.
Some engineers are also using cigarette butts, recycled steel, and straw bale to make buildings more energy-efficient and less wasteful of limited resources. Recycled steel can be used to design prefabricated structures such as HVAC ducts, sheet metal, support beams, and other similar components.
Finally, your sustainable construction approach should be aimed at achieving long-term goals. Think about how your current plan will hold up in 10-15 years, and strive to stay ahead of emerging trends.
Sustainability in construction is all about being innovative and adaptive. Establish goals that you can achieve in collaboration with stakeholders during any given project. In this way, your business, clients, subcontractors, and the local community will be able to join in your sustainability efforts.
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