6 ways construction companies can lower carbon emissions
| June 01, 2021
Recent reports from the United Nations Environment Programme found that the construction industry accounts for 38% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Under the Paris Agreement, the building sector must operate at “net-zero carbon” by 2050. For this target to be possible, building carbon emissions need to halve by 2030.
All construction firms need to do their part by following environmentally friendly practices. Here are six methods to implement for lowering your company's carbon footprint.
1) Work with green materials
Concrete is one of the most-used building substances, but it's extremely carbon-emitting. Where possible, consider offering or replacing concrete with more sustainable alternatives such as recycled plastic, bamboo, and Timbercrete.
For building frames or external cladding, timber is an excellent option as it absorbs carbon dioxide rather than emitting it. It can also be recycled or reused as biofuel, it breaks down naturally, and it's highly thermally efficient.
2) Check materials are sustainably sourced
To verify your supplier has sourced the construction material ethically, request evidence that they have met sustainable policies.
Wood-based materials, including timber cladding, should be harvested from certified forests that are continuously replenished and don't cause environmental harm. Otherwise, you could be unknowingly contributing to deforestation.
International Timber, the UK's leading importer and distributor of bespoke and sustainable timber, aim for a full Chain of Custody certified timber. The company only purchases timber from sustainable sources and ensure all products meet legal requirements.
3) Alter the job site
Construction sites are prone to generating waste, energy usage, and pollution, but you can reduce the environmental impact by incorporating:
- water dust control systems
- sweeping equipment for dust
- a waste management process
- energy-efficient equipment
Using construction management software also eradicates the need for on-site paper documents.
4) Sustainable construction methods
Using green construction techniques will help minimize the company's environmental impact.
Prefabricated construction is a popular building method. It involves producing components in a factory environment and then transporting them to the construction site for assembling. Working in controlled indoor conditions lowers waste, pollution, and energy usage, compared to operating this task on the job site.
Operate under a fabric-first approach by prioritizing the fabric's insulation quality, natural ventilation, thermal mass, and airtightness to enhance the building's energy efficiency.
Increasing the building's solar gain with solar panels, window positioning, and window glazing will also minimize the property's ongoing energy consumption.
5) Recycle excess inventory
At the end of a construction job, you may have leftover stock that you have no use for, but don't just send it to landfill and instead either:
- recycle any recyclable materials
- donate the stock to community projects
- sell the inventory to venders
- check whether your supplier offers a take-back scheme
If you frequently have too much stock, adjust your order nearer to the exact amount you need.
6) Raise awareness to the cause
Once your company has established these sustainable practices, continue spreading the message and educating those around you by:
- training your staff on how to be kinder to the environment
- showcasing your environmental policies online
- advising customers on sustainable materials and construction methods
- sharing social media posts on how the construction industry can become more sustainable
- giving talks at industry events on sustainability
Making these environmental adjustments to your company will help to reduce the sector's carbon emissions. However, it doesn't stop there. Continue progressing your policy by researching other ways to improve and speaking with experts on the topic.
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