The construction industry is one of the largest sectors when it comes to using materials and having an impact on the environment and there is a huge push on sustainable construction, with the aim of becoming net zero by 2050 looming over all developments. But what are the keys to sustainable construction and what challenges are we going face trying to achieve the ambitious goal of becoming net zero by 2050.
Why sustainability in construction matters
The construction industry is at the forefront of building new societies and creating the future world we live in. Due to the constant need for construction and the impact it has on the future of our planet, making the construction industry sustainable is vital for the future health of our planet.
In fact, the building and construction industry accounts for an incredible 40% of CO2 emissions and according to the Supply Chain Sustainability School, building and construction works in countries which 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
- 30-40% of solid waste generation.
Building a sustainable construction industry
To create a truly sustainable construction industry the first step that needs to be taken is the sourcing of materials and making sure that where
possible the materials used to build our future have come in some capacity from our past, such as recycled materials. As mentioned previously, construction is responsible for 25-40% of the worlds energy usage and therefore finding a renewal energy source is another big step in helping to create a sustainable site.
During projects themselves, care must be taken regarding waste, not just the amount of waste but also how it is being disposed. Can the materials be recycled and used further down the line? Is there a way in which we can dispose of the materials in a less impactful way to the environment? These are questions you should be considering if you’re responsible for the removal of materials.
You should also consider how you’re impacting the environment whilst carry out work such as creating dust, destroying natural habitat and the energy consumptions you’re using. The thought of sustainable construction is to create an environmentally friendly construction site and well as finished project.
What are the challenges?
Adapting to these new methods is something that is going to take time and won’t happen overnight. Not only will they take time to implement and change, but they are also expensive. Using renewal materials and sourcing renewable energy all comes at great costs and although might save you money in the long run, businesses will often take a large financial hit to change from the current processes.
Building a sustainable future is something the UK government is doing its best to tackle. They have set out plans which would see the United Kingdom be net-zero in carbon emissions by 2050. The ‘net zero’ plan would see any emissions balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage to negate the negative effects if CO2.
As part of this initiative all homes and businesses will have to meet rigorous new energy efficiency standards to lower energy consumption and bills, helping to protect the environment.
These new standards include radically improving the energy performance of new homes with low carbon heating, reduce emissions and be zero carbon ready by 2025. This would see roughly a 75-80% reduction in carbon emissions to the current level of housing.
Existing homes will also be subject to higher standards. There will be significant improvement on the standard for extensions, making homes warmer and reducing bills. The requirement for replacement, repairs and parts to be more energy efficient, including windows and building services such as heat pumps and fixed lighting.