As the demand for green legislation and regulations continues to rise, and pressure mounts for Australia to meet its net-zero target, business owners must take a more proactive approach to mitigating climate change.
Although the construction industry as a whole still has some way to go when it comes to sustainability, there are already many things that individual construction businesses can do to make a difference.
If you’re interested in learning about how the construction industry can become more ecologically friendly, read on for four of the best methods.
1. Incorporate green building practices into construction projects
The construction industry can transition to sustainable development by opting for eco-friendly construction materials and construction methods, such as using renewable energy sources like solar power, embracing efficient water management practices, and implementing natural ventilation systems.
Using more sustainable materials is one of the most effective ways construction firms can reduce their carbon footprint. Some of the long-running staples of the construction industry, such as concrete, have a seriously high impact on climate change. In fact, studies from the late 2010s showed that concrete alone could be responsible for 4-8 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions.
The cost and effort involved in replacing your standard construction materials with eco-friendly equivalents can be challenging, but it’s worth it to get your company ahead of the sustainability curve. Precast concrete slabs, natural fibre insulation, bamboo, reclaimed materials and many more sustainable options exist for you to use on your next project. A great place to start is by auditing your current orders from suppliers and researching greener alternatives for the most commonly used materials on sustainable construction sites.
2. Develop more sustainable supply chain processes
Construction companies should make an effort to source materials from sustainable suppliers. Additionally, sustainable construction companies can reduce their environmental impact by choosing transportation methods that have lower carbon footprints, such as rail transport or electric vehicles.
Not only is it important to review your supply chain for efficiency, but also sustainability. In fact, government studies on transport and the environment have revealed that logistics, fleet management and supply chain transport is a leading-emitting sector of CO2 in Australia. Consequently, this should indicate how much greener your business can become simply by making alterations to your current supply chain management practices.
Even if your company is on the smaller side, there are still things you can do to have a big impact on your supply chain. Simple changes such as combining suppliers, buying materials from businesses close by and making sure vehicles are loaded properly can help reduce how much pollution your company creates.
If you manage a larger construction business, you’re in a position to create a more sustainable supply chain through employee training and development. By implementing tactics like driver training modules, delegating audits to logistics managers, or sharing competitor’s environmental successes with your team internally; there are many ways shape your company culture make sustainability and efficiency priorities within your supply chain.
3. Adopt digital construction optimization tools
Digital tools like Building Information Modeling (BIM) software and virtual twins are invaluable tools for sustainable construction firms looking to optimize project performance and resource utilization. These systems can help construction companies make informed decisions about construction processes, saving time and money while also reducing environmental impact.
Building information modelling (BIM) is the process of digitally creating a building’s features using specialised software. This generated model and its corresponding data are often used throughout the entire life cycle of the building – from design to construction to operation and maintenance. By implementing BIM, managers can drastically reduce their risk for issues, errors, and oversights.
BIM gives designers a chance to explore boundless design options and grasp the consequences of these choices through data-driven decision making. With this newfound clarity, design decisions become less complicated. As a result, you’re able to try different design options before construction starts — lowering the likelihood for defects and errors during buildout, and reducing change orders submitted during construction administration. The quicker mistakes are caught, the more improbable they are to turn into expensive rework projects.
BIM comes in handy if we need to make changes down the line, whether it be due to the owner’s wishes or an unforeseen circumstance. We can use BIM to test proposed changes and see if they work structurally and financially. Additionally, this process helps us figure out if these changes might create new risks or conflicts. After taking a close look at all of the modification options through virtual 3D modeling, we may find that some possible impacts are too great to ignore.
Despite the potential implications, sometimes a change is unavoidable. Fortunately, by taking advantage of BIM’s expansive project data, we can minimize the risk as much as possible and efficiently reallocate resources to best accommodate the new requirements.
4. Reduce construction site waste
Construction sites generate vast amounts of waste, so the construction industry should make an effort to minimize the amount of material used in construction projects and properly dispose of any unused resources or construction waste streams. Reusing materials, such as structural steel, is one way construction companies can help reduce construction waste and increase sustainability.
Although it’s impossible to have a waste-free construction site, there are many things we can do to reduce our environmental impact (for example, recycling materials that are torn down and using sustainable resources whenever possible).
As a construction business leader, you are probably already recycling common items such as glass and packaging. It might be time, however, to go over your waste-disposal methods again and see if there are any sustainable options you were previously unaware of.
A quick search will show you that there are many recycling facilities for common construction materials, such as gypsum, aggregates, and insulation. However, items like wall and floor coverings aren’t recycled as often. If these things end up in a landfill from your construction project, it creates extra waste and uses up valuable resources. To make your business more sustainable (and save money), audit your projects regularly to see what can be improved upon. Minimizing waste also means taking preventive measures to avoid complications that can otherwise problematize construction projects of all sizes. For instance, if destructive pests infest a site and compromise materials or undo existing work, this is neither sustainable nor cost effective. Working with professionals who know how to deal with such issues, while still maintaining pest control business profit margins at a reasonable level, will save you from this type of avoidable waste.
By following these steps, construction companies can work towards future proofing their businesses by taking sustainable development into consideration. Not only will this make construction projects more efficient and cost effective in the long run, but it will also help reduce construction’s environmental impact and ensure sustainable construction across the project. Making these changes now can help construction firms become more sustainable and better prepared for the future.
Want to transform your green building approach by going digital? Book a free PlanRadar product demo or contact us today to find out how construction management software can help streamline the journey.