The construction industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately 39% of carbon emissions and 33% of waste. To combat this, the construction industry has begun to adopt sustainable practices, such as using recycled materials, renewable energy, and green construction techniques. However, construction sustainability is not only about using eco-friendly materials; it is also about reducing waste, improving construction efficiency, and maximizing the lifespan of buildings.
What is sustainable construction?
Sustainable construction is the practice of building or renovating buildings using less energy, water, and materials than typical construction practices and generating less waste. Sustainable construction is one of the significant trends in construction because it can help reduce the negative environmental impact of construction projects and improve the long-term sustainability of our built environment.
Sustainable construction is important for many reasons, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving resources, and improving the long-term durability of our built environment.
Sustainable Construction Techniques
Fortunately, there are many ways to make construction more sustainable. Here are just a few construction techniques that can help reduce environmental impact:
- Use sustainable building materials– using sustainable building materials can help reduce the environmental impact of construction projects, saving energy, reduce pollution, and conserving resources. They can also create a healthier indoor environment by reducing the use of harmful chemicals and improving air quality.
- Use green construction methods – green construction methods are becoming more and more popular. These methods often make use of sustainable materials and energy-efficient construction techniques.
- Use construction technology – construction technology can help construction companies to build more sustainably. Technologies such as 3D printing and BIM software can help reduce waste, improve construction efficiency, and save energy.
- Implement sustainable construction practices – There are many sustainable construction practices that can be implemented on construction projects. Some examples include using green roofs, installing solar panels, and using greywater systems.
What are the benefits of sustainable construction?
Sustainability in building contributes to the wellbeing of people and communities in addition to the environment. Adopting the green initiative in the construction industry has numerous demonstrated advantages, some of which are:
- Enhanced environmental protection: Sustainable construction practices can help protect the environment by reducing pollution and waste, and by using resources more efficiently.
- Improved social and economic conditions: Sustainable construction practices can help improve social and economic conditions in construction-related industries and communities by creating jobs and providing training opportunities.
- Increased resilience: Sustainable construction practices can help increase the resilience of buildings and infrastructure to climate change and other environmental threats.
- Improves occupant health and well-being: Studies have shown that sustainable construction practices can lead to improved occupant health and well-being. This is due to the improved indoor air quality and increased natural light in sustainable buildings.
- Improved construction technology: Sustainable construction practices often result in the use of improved construction technology. This can lead to more efficient and effective construction processes, as well as to the use of less harmful construction materials.
- Improved construction management: The adoption of sustainable construction practices can improve construction management by promoting the use of more efficient construction methods and materials, and by improving communication and coordination among construction professionals.
- Enhanced building performance: Sustainable construction practices can lead to the development of better performing buildings that use less energy, water, and other resources, and generate less pollution.
- Reduces Lifecycle Costs: Buildings that are designed and constructed using sustainable principles often have lower operating costs than conventional buildings. This is due to the improved energy and water efficiency of sustainable buildings.
Barriers to Implement Sustainable Construction Techniques
The challenge for the construction industry is to move towards sustainable construction practices, which are those that are environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and economically supportive. However, there are many barriers to the implementation of sustainable construction techniques.
Cost is often the most cited barrier, as sustainable construction practices can sometimes be more expensive up front. However, they can save money in the long run by reducing the amount of energy and water needed to power and maintain the building. Another barrier to sustainable construction is lack of awareness or understanding as many people are simply not aware of sustainable construction techniques and their benefits
There are still many barriers to widespread adoption of sustainable construction practices, including Building code requirements and inexperience. Building code requirements are a major barrier because they are often outdated and do not reflect the latest advances in sustainable construction practices. Inexperience is also a major barrier because many construction companies are not familiar with sustainable practices, and this can make it difficult to find contractors who are willing to try new methods and incorporate them into their projects.
Despite the challenges, there are several reasons why sustainable construction practices should be adopted. Sustainable construction techniques can lead to significant cost savings over the life cycle of a construction project, as well as reducing the environmental impact of the construction process. In addition, sustainable construction practices can create social and economic benefits for local communities.
Sustainable construction adoption in the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the leading countries in construction technology innovation and has been at the forefront of sustainable construction adoption. The UAE’s commitment to sustainable construction is having a positive impact on the environment and the economy. The country is reducing its carbon footprint, creating jobs, and contributing to the country’s GDP. The UAE’s construction industry is leading the way in sustainable construction practices. Thanks to construction technology, the UAE is setting an example for other countries to follow.
Year of Sustainability
President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan declared 2023 as “The Year of Sustainability”. By leveraging its rich cultural heritage and dedication to sustainability initiatives, this initiative aims to transition organizations towards more sustainable practices that reduce environmental impact while increasing prosperity. The UAE is already leading sustainable practices in various sectors such as energy production, transportation infrastructure and urban development projects.
Smart Sustainable cities in the UAE
In line with the strategic vision of UAE’s leaders, UAE has launched several innovative programs and initiatives contributing to the fulfilment of sustainable development goals and improving the wellbeing of people and communities in addition to the environment.
Projects such as: Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, Sustainable City in Dubai, BEEAH Headquarters in Sharjah, which is completely powered by renewable energy and achieved Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification and Dubai World Expo 2020 (one of the most sustainable World Expos ever) have opened opportunities for the UAE to play a major role in the development of sustainable infrastructure around the globe.
UAE government’s National Guide for Smart Construction
The National Guide for Smart Construction contains the essential key elements for all parties to improve the construction process. It aims to provide support for investment decisions and optimal use of building project data during construction, operations, and maintenance to complete projects within the time frame and budget.
Green building codes
The UAE Cabinet approved the Green Building and Sustainable Building standards in 2010. These standards were put into practice in government buildings by early 2011. The project is expected to cut carbon emissions by about 30% and save AED 10 billion.
Abu Dhabi introduced the five-level “Estidama” Pearl Rating System and mandated to all government and residential buildings.
Dubai Green Building Regulations (DGBR) Supporting Dubai’s Strategic Plan to create sustainable urban environment and the sustainable development in the Emirate.
UAE Energy Strategy 2050
Aiming to increase clean energy contribution from 25% to 50% by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint of power generation by 70%, the UAE launched solar power plant projects includes:
Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park– the largest single-site solar park in the world- with production capacity of 5,000MW by 2030, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will reduce more than 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
Shams- Spanning over 2.5 square kilometers with a capacity of 100 megawatts and displacing about 175,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, Shams solar plant contributes toward Abu Dhabi’s target of 30% clean energy by the year 2030.
The construction industry is gradually starting to adopt sustainable construction practices, but there is still a long way to go. To accelerate the transition to sustainable construction, it is important to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable construction practices and to provide support and information to those working in the construction industry.