Construction and the environment
Construction impacts the environment in both positive and negative ways. Buildings disrupt natural environments, but can also provide new, biodiverse areas and be created using green materials, minimising waste and energy-intensive production of materials. Let’s take a look at how construction can help the environment and some of the job roles you can find in the industry.
Does construction impact the environment negatively?
According to some studies, construction is responsible for up to 50% of climate change. It also impacts landfills and air, water, and noise pollution. However, the industry is seeking to make positive changes to their ways of working, materials used and production, to minimise the negative effects of construction and protect the environment for future generations.
How the construction industry can help the environment
The construction industry can help support the environment in a number of ways, using new technology and developing greener materials is just the beginning.
Eco-friendly building design
Eco-friendly design includes the use of recycled materials, (which produce less CO2 in the manufacturing process), structural durability and long-term plans for energy and waste production. This part of the construction process is crucial to being aware of the environment and the impact each project could have. Smart appliances, solar panels and even the inclusion of natural light are all things designers consider to ensure a building’s design is as eco-friendly as possible.
Green construction practices
Construction can be noisy, produce excess waste and be energy inefficient. That’s why green construction practices are being introduced to minimise the negative effects of these issues. Quieter, fuel-efficient tools and machines are now available, as well as recycling and reusing materials where possible to reduce waste.
Sustainable building operations
Buildings are created to last, so it is important they will be as efficient as they can be while they stand and impact an environment. As well as durable materials, people who use the building should be educated how to maintain good environmental practices such as recycling, managing waste and being energy efficient.
Limiting the environmental impact of construction
For construction projects on existing buildings, there are ways to limit some negative environmental impacts.
Limit fuel usage
Proper maintenance of tools and equipment which require fuel is key to limiting how much they need. Leaving them running idle is wasteful and should be avoided. There are also technologies available to manage maintenance and replacing parts more cost-effectively.
To reduce noise pollution, construction managers should consider different processes which use quieter equipment, or a quieter process to achieve the same result. Metal-on-metal impact can be reduced by using rubber panels or covers and barriers erected around noisier sites to help reduce their impact. Some tools can also be fitted with silencers. The HSE has an article on noise reduction here.
Environmental jobs in construction
Fancy a job in environmental construction? There are a few options available to you.
Environmental advisers work on construction projects to make sure they comply with environmental regulations and keep air pollution or water and soil contamination to a minimum. They also find ways to reduce waste and dispose of it in a more environmentally-friendly manner. Find out which qualifications and training you need for this role.
Environmental engineering focuses on reducing waste and pollution in building and construction. Environmental engineers make the most of any natural resources used on a construction project, as well as develop renewable energy resources. Get into environmental engineering.
Ecologists study the relationship between plants, animals and the environment. Any proposed construction work that could affect a natural environment will be looked at by an ecologist, to make sure it does not negatively affect flora and fauna or endanger species. To learn more about an ecologists role in construction see our dedicated page.
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