Sustainable construction, sometimes referred to as ‘green building’, is one of the most important developments in the construction sector in recent years. Aimed at striking a delicate balance between the construction needs of both the present and the future, the concept has found its way into virtually every part of the industry. Here’s what you need to know about sustainable construction.
The construction industry plays a major role in creating a built environment that is sustainable in the long-term. With many built assets enjoying a relatively long life-span, sustainability has become a crucial consideration in modern construction. Ensuring the sustainability of a construction project is no easy task, but numerous processes have helped construction professionals to more effectively address sustainability needs. This article sets out some of the ways in which sustainable construction can be achieved.
Fact: Construction accounts for around 40% of the economy’s energy consumption and around 25% of the materials used.[i]
What Is Sustainable Construction?
Although the exact interpretation of the concept may vary, sustainable construction is often centred around several core elements. These include:
- The efficient usage of resources
- The usage of sustainable construction materials
- The minimisation of project waste
- The prevention of harmful environmental and social impacts
Each of these elements plays its own part in ensuring a more sustainable construction process. By using resources more efficiently, construction professionals are able to deliver results whilst minimising their impact on the availability of these resources. Sustainable building materials can help to extend the building’s life cycle, lowering the cost of maintenance in the long-term. Furthermore, they also contribute towards minimising project waste, which in turn helps to reduce both the cost and the environmental impact of construction projects.
Last but not least, sustainable construction can bring about a variety of considerations aimed at limiting a built asset’s impact on the environment, for example through increasing energy efficiency and minimising pollution. In the social sphere, it can help to construct sustainable buildings that last and improve health and safety.
Why Sustainability Matters
In recognition of its importance, the practice of sustainable construction has grown significantly over the past decade[ii]. As environmental considerations continue to find their way into almost every business sector, the development shows no signs of slowing down.
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Sustainability holds particular importance for the construction industry. According to research conducted by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS), the UK construction sector accounts for almost half of the country's CO2 emissions. As a result, improvements in the sector’s sustainability record can have a significant impact on the environmental efforts of the country as a whole.
According to the same report, several areas of the construction sector are deemed capable of influencing CO2 emissions. In this, BIS estimates that manufacturers account for the largest part of these emissions, although emissions resulting from buildings that are already in use are thought to be more than five times as high.
How We Construct Sustainably
Recognising the importance of sustainable construction, Adey Steel Group’s steel fabrication work incorporates a number of processes aimed at ensuring greater sustainability.
Our usage of Building Information Modeling (BIM) solutions such as Tekla Structures and Tekla BIMsight, for example, has helped us to more efficiently use available resources. As a result, the technology has helped us to significantly reduce wastage and increase productivity, limiting the environmental impacts associated with project inefficiencies and waste.
Due to its durability and its potential to be reused, steel is widely considered to be a sustainable construction material. It can be consistently recycled for a variety of purposes, which has helped to strengthen its reputation as a sustainable material. Apart from bringing along significant benefits to the economy, the recyclability of steel also plays an important role in driving the long-term sustainability of the steel industry.
Sustainable Construction and the Future
The role of sustainability in the construction sector looks set to enjoy further growth in the years to come. By recognising the importance of sustainability for their day-to-day business operations, construction professionals working in a wide variety of disciplines can help to ensure their business continues to enjoy sustainable growth in the long term.