Search
Close this search box.
News & Insights

How to Achieve Sustainability in Construction (8 Ways)

It’s no secret that the construction industry is a major contributor to climate change.

Whether it’s due to the sourcing of materials, waste management, or air and noise pollution, just to name a few, construction can be far from sustainable.

However, the tides are changing and sustainability in construction is now becoming a priority for many and it’s much more than just ticking a box.

There are many benefits to making your construction projects greener and more future-proof, from increasing your bottom line to reducing your carbon footprint – and that’s not to mention it’s a great way to add social value to a construction project.

The UK government is lending a hand by following up on its Construction 2025 strategy with the Clean Growth Strategy, which aims to help the industry slash its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

In this post, we will explore eight key ways you can achieve sustainability in construction and the reasons why these changes are so important.

1) Construct green buildings

It may seem like the most obvious answer, but that’s because it’s the most obvious place to start.

Green buildings are a cornerstone in the pursuit of sustainability in construction, utilising a combination of eco-friendly materials with an energy-efficient sustainable design — a combination that significantly reduces the environmental impact.

Such buildings prioritise energy efficiency by leveraging renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, and employing insulation techniques to reduce energy consumption.

Furthermore, green buildings often incorporate water conservation measures, including efficient plumbing fixtures and rainwater harvesting systems.

They also promote healthier indoor environments by maximising natural light and ventilation and by using low-emitting materials.

In this way, green buildings not only minimise their carbon footprint but also provide a healthier, more comfortable living or working space for occupants, thereby making sustainable living a more viable option for everyone.

Better yet, beyond the environmental impact, green buildings also yield significant economic benefits over their lifecycle through reduced operating costs. This approach demonstrates that sustainable construction is not only beneficial for our planet but also makes sound commercial sense.

2) Allocate funds for sustainable practices

While we’re on the topic of the commercial viability of sustainable projects, it’s important to point out that significant investment is often required to get them off the ground.

Allocating funds specifically for sustainability practices is a strategic investment that can yield substantial long-term benefits. 

This approach facilitates the adoption and implementation of sustainable construction methods, such as the use of recycled or renewable sustainable construction materials, energy-efficient designs, and waste reduction practices that might initially require higher upfront costs but offer substantial long-term savings and benefits.

Allocating a dedicated budget for sustainability ensures that every stage of construction, from planning to completion, is carried out with a commitment to environmental stewardship. It paves the way for innovative construction methods that minimise waste, reduce energy usage, and decrease carbon emissions.

While there are many key benefits to offering allocated funds for sustainable practices, the World Green Building Trends 2018 Smart Market Report reveals that 40% of UK firms found affordability with sustainable projects to be the biggest challenge, with 50% stating that they expect green projects to cost more.

However, while the costs can be higher, we’d argue that the long-lasting effects of sustainable practices far outweigh the financial costs of building green buildings.

Plus, it’s a move that is increasingly recognised and appreciated by clients, investors, and the general public, who are all becoming more aware and supportive of sustainability efforts.

In essence, investing in sustainable practices is not just an expense; it’s a wise business decision that promotes long-term profitability, enhances reputation, and contributes to environmental preservation.

3) Source sustainable and recycled materials

Considering that the industry accounts for a staggering 50% of all natural resource extraction globally, sourcing recycled and sustainable construction materials is a key strategy for achieving sustainability in construction.

This approach reduces resource exploitation by reusing materials or using alternatives that have less environmental impact.

Sustainable building materials such as wood, mud bricks, wool bricks, and straw bales are renewable, reducing the demand for non-renewable resources.

Recycled materials, on the other hand, minimise waste going into landfills and decrease the energy used in manufacturing new materials.

Furthermore, innovations in sustainable concrete and appropriately used plastic construction materials have shown great potential in improving the durability and efficiency of construction projects, thus contributing to their overall sustainability.

By reusing materials or opting for sustainable alternatives, we can reduce the demand for new resources, thereby curbing deforestation and the extraction of minerals. This not only helps to conserve our planet’s finite resources, but it also reduces energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with producing new materials.

It’s clear to see that the sourcing of sustainable and recycled materials paves the way for eco-friendly construction practices, championing an ethos of resource efficiency and environmental responsibility that characterises truly sustainable construction.

4) Responsibly dispose of construction waste

Following on from the last point, let’s explore how businesses within the sector can responsibly dispose of construction waste. Responsibly managing and disposing of construction waste is indeed a critical aspect of achieving sustainability in construction.

Construction sites typically generate vast amounts of waste, from unused materials to demolition debris, which can have a profoundly negative impact on the environment if not managed properly.

In fact, the construction industry makes up an estimated third of the world’s overall waste and at least 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Implementing a comprehensive waste management plan can significantly reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills, aiding in the conservation of natural resources and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Effective waste management includes strategies such as recycling or reusing materials, donating unused supplies, and choosing suppliers who take back excess materials. This also includes the proper disposal of hazardous waste, which can cause significant environmental and health risks if not handled correctly.

Moreover, effective waste management can lead to significant cost savings, as the costs associated with waste disposal can be substantial, helping to boost your bottom line.

Therefore, responsible construction waste management is not only environmentally sound but also economically advantageous, underscoring its importance in the pursuit of sustainable construction.

5) Prioritise energy efficiency in the workplace

In the quest for sustainable construction, prioritising energy efficiency within the workplace can play a crucial role.

Construction sites are often rife with opportunities for energy wastage, with machinery, site accommodation, and on-site heat and power systems all potentially consuming vast amounts of power.

Some key ways you can improve the energy efficiency of a construction site include:

  • Use high-quality fuels for equipment and make use of renewable alternatives when possible.
  • Source the right-sized generator for your equipment and consider using smaller generators for periods of low energy demand.
  • Ensure on-site accommodation as a high Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – ideally, band A.
  • Potentially implement a combined heat and power (CHP) system with a renewable fuel source—but more on that in the next section.
  • Take steps to reduce energy consumption from lighting, such as using LED lights and daylight sensors.
  • Monitor and manage electricity use with an energy monitoring system.

Combined with the other strategies discussed, improving the energy efficiency of the workplace is a key component to achieving sustainability in construction.

6) Invest in renewable energy on-site

Investing in on-site renewable energy is an exemplary method to achieve sustainability in construction.

By harnessing the power of renewable energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal systems, construction sites can drastically reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, thereby cutting back on harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Moreover, if a construction site were to use a solar battery, the surplus energy generated could be stored for later use or fed back into the grid, turning construction sites from energy consumers into energy producers. This innovative approach helps mitigate the environmental impact of construction activities, making it a key strategy in sustainable construction.

Furthermore, while the upfront investment may be substantial, the long-term cost savings from reduced energy bills offer a compelling return on investment, making it a financially sound decision as well.

Lastly, the use of renewable energy sources on-site sends a strong message about your company’s commitment to environmental responsibility, which can enhance your reputation among clients, investors, and the broader public.

7) Craft a sustainable supply chain

The construction of a sustainable supply chain management is a vital step towards achieving sustainability in the sector. This involves selecting suppliers who share your commitment to sustainability and can provide materials and services in an eco-friendly manner.

It also means implementing sustainable practices at each of the five steps of your supply chain process, from raw material extraction to final delivery, in a way that minimises environmental impact.

By choosing to work with suppliers who uphold eco-friendly practices and source their materials responsibly, construction companies can greatly reduce the environmental impact of their projects. This approach extends sustainability efforts beyond the immediate construction site and into the broader network of businesses involved in the project.

A sustainable supply chain can promote social responsibility within the construction sector, helping to demonstrate a company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and therefore enhancing the brand’s reputation, all while fostering stronger relationships with like-minded clients and partners.

8) Utilise an economic transportation fleet

The last step on our list ties in with crafting a sustainable supply chain, and that is utilising an economic fleet in the transportation of sustainable building materials and equipment to and from construction sites.

Transportation generates approximately 24% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it the nation’s most substantial contributor to climate change. Therefore, ensuring the fleet that transports materials and services to and from the construction site is both efficient and low-emission can significantly reduce the environmental impact of a project.

The use of efficient, low-emission vehicles, along with effective route planning, can significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with transporting materials and personnel.

By investing in hybrid or electric vehicles, adopting fuel-efficient driving practices, and optimising delivery routes to minimise mileage, construction companies can drastically cut down on emissions and fuel consumption.

Furthermore, economic transportation is not limited to road vehicles but extends to sea and air freight, where there’s a growing availability of low-emission alternatives.

How to measure the sustainability of a construction site

Thank you for reading our blog post on how to achieve sustainability in construction.

Measuring and calculating the sustainability of a construction process can be a difficult process if you are ill-equipped.

Luckily, Compliance Chain is in the process of building an innovative solution to what is a notoriously complex issue.

In addition to being a leading platform for supply chain management, social value management, project management, and demonstrating compliance, Compliance Chain is working hard behind the scenes to craft one-of-a-kind software to help developers track the sustainability of their construction projects.

Come back soon to learn more about our exciting new software and how it could revolutionise your construction process.

In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about our easy-to-use, end-to-end platform, get in touch with a member of our experienced team. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Alternatively, sign up to Compliance Chain today to start demonstrating your compliance with industry regulations with ease, such as the BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). We look forward to hearing from you.

Share this article:

Sign Up to our newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter and receive the latest updates
and news from Compliance chain.

    Download
    our brochures

    Learn more about our solutions by downloading our brochure.