The construction industry is one of the largest users of global resources and contributors of pollution. It therefore has a huge responsibility to aid sustainability. According to the Supply Chain Sustainability School, building and construction works in countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) use 25-40% of total energy, 30% of raw materials, 30-40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 30-40% of solid waste generation.
To ensure we’re building a world that will improve the lives of future generations, the construction industry is implementing eco-friendly considerations. Working sustainably involves meeting the current demands of the expanding population as well as supporting the environment in the long-term.
How is the construction sector currently tackling sustainability?
Set in 2014, the Government’s Sustainable Construction Strategy has a clear path for improving sustainability in construction. This includes BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method), which is a widely used global sustainability standard helping to improve the environmental performance of buildings. The Green Guide also assesses the environmental impacts of materials during their life cycle.
How can the construction sector become more sustainable?
From reducing carbon footprints by using renewable energy and using on-site water treatment plants to minimise waste, to recycling and building with renewable or waste materials, like cigarette butt bricks – there are endless ways in which construction can improve sustainability.
Read our blog on the latest technologies in construction
Sustainable construction projects around the world
China has recently announced its plans for a ‘Forest City’. This urban development aims to drastically lower the air pollution of China’s big cities, to improve the health of the country’s residents as well as the environment as a whole. Designed by Italian architectural agency Stefano Boeri Architetti (SBA), the development will be covered in thousands of solar panels, trees and plants.
In the UK, the Eden Project has been a living example of regeneration and sustainability since 1995. Dreamed up by Tim Smit and designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw, the Eden Project is set in a disused clay pit in Cornwall, England. The main features are the two biomes (Rainforest and Mediterranean).
These are made from three layers of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene copolymer (ETFE) hexagons, pentagons and triangles which are inflated to create 2-metre-deep windows. The steelwork used for the biomes weighs around the same as the amount of air in the biomes. From construction to day-to-day running, everything about the Eden project has been considered for its impact to the environment.
Other green features include:
- insulation made from recycled newspaper
- harvesting water to water the plants and manage facilities
- building with recycled materials such as glass bottles, tyres and reclaimed wood
- manufactured products whose waste is minimal or used for other purposes
While developing technologies and planned projects are getting the ball rolling, there is still a lot to be done to ensure construction is truly sustainable. If you think you could be part of improving the environment through construction, learn more about the diverse range of construction careers.