7 Sustainable Best Practices to Use in Construction
Construction has a massive impact on the Earth in terms of energy usage. It’s no secret that it takes a lot of energy to build. Up to a third of total energy use worldwide relates to building, in fact.
As construction becomes more prevalent, there is a trend towards a zero-waste policy. ‘Zero waste’ is a commitment to generating no waste in operations. This can be done by any means, including donating waste products and finding ways to reduce landfill contributions. Depending on the project, it isn’t always entirely achievable. However, using a zero-waste policy as a guide can help inform day-to-day decisions and project planning.
More contractors are utilizing sustainable construction best practices to reframe operations and minimize waste output. Here are some eco-friendly best practices that any construction firm can use.
- Use environmentally responsible materials
There is a growing collection of eco-friendly building materials that can be used for a wide variety of tasks. Whenever possible, opting for environmentally sustainable materials over the alternative will further reduce a builder’s footprint on the environment. Aluminum has become popular for this exact reason. It is a fine example of a renewable material that works in an eco-sustainable framework.
Prefabricated materials cut and made in controlled environments result in less waste overall. Consider the time and effort spent on shaping materials on the job site. Designs and cuts might lack precision, resulting in more materials that have to be discarded. Prefabricated materials come wrapped, away from the hot and cold that can change the shape of some materials. It’s a sustainable way to procure materials.
- Donate or recycle materials
Connect with local non-profit organizations willing to take materials like wood cabinets, appliances, and spare building materials that may otherwise go unused. Local organizations can take this material and turn it into something they might be able to sell. Demolition materials are excellent for this. The careful removal of wood and other form-fitted construction materials can sometimes find a whole new life in someone else’s hands, keeping them out of the landfill.
Some materials you can’t donate. A large haul of concrete, for example, is one. Instead, search for recycling opportunities available. There are a lot of options to recycle materials on-site, reusing what would otherwise be landfill-assigned. By doing this, some construction projects have increased their recycling rate above 90%.
- Conserve energy & water flow
Use low-flow toilets and be conscious of water run-off. Use energy-efficient lighting. Use an automated thermometer to conserve energy that would typically be spent on regulating temperature. Ensure the tools you use are up-to-date and energy-efficient as well. These are all things commercial construction companies can do to lower the energy output. Best of all, you won’t compromise the workmanship or quality of the finished result.
In addition, no one wants contaminated water to flow into the local environment and cause havoc. More construction projects treat water on-site, avoiding run-off during construction by installing silt fencing in designated areas. At municipal, provincial/state, and federal levels, stormwater pollution prevention avoids an accidental overflow of the sewer systems.
- Monitor transport behaviour on-site
Depending on a driver’s behaviour, speed, route, and maintenance, your transportation fleet can generate unnecessary waste. This burns fuel and creates air pollution. Evaluate how you’re running your fleet. A large part of your carbon footprint comes from on-site transportation. There may be better, more environmentally sustainable ways to achieve what you’re looking for, such as using biodiesel as a fuel source.
- Educate new and existing staff
Prioritizing sustainable construction is something every team member must have a role in. Your team must be aware of how to fulfill sustainable construction best practices. Provide a clear outline of what’s expected and how to make it a reality through specific acts. Everyone in your organization should play a role in sustainable construction best practices.
- Go digital with your paperwork
A project can generate tons of paper waste with blueprints, drawings, specs, invoices, and other documents. Replace the paperwork by going digital instead. Use construction software to calculate costs, manage portfolio documents, created 3D blueprints, and monitor progress. Instead of passing around what will amount to stacks of paperwork, the software will make your operations more sustainable.
- Re-evaluate and be open
Be open to making further adjustments to your sustainable operations. Research new eco-friendly best practices for construction. Connect with local stakeholders passionate about the same. There will be additional opportunities down the road to maximize the sustainability of construction projects, so prepare your business for the future.