Building a Better Tomorrow: 6 Ways to Create a More Sustainable Construction Site

Published by Vernon Glick

With construction and demolition materials such as concrete, wood, and asphalt piling up quickly, the construction industry poses a substantial threat to the environment. It is a significant source of pollution, responsible for around 4% of particulate emissions, and more water pollution incidents than any other industry, as well as thousands of noise complaints each year.

By 2025, the volume of construction waste is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tons every year. That's why various government authorities are passing stricter legislation in this regard. As a result, it has become necessary to implement sustainable construction practices.

Let's take a look at six ways to bring sustainability to the construction industry.

1) Use Sustainable Building Material

One of the first steps is to start using sustainable building material. Although concrete is the most preferred construction material, it isn't environment-friendly as its production releases large amounts of greenhouse gases in the air.

Over the years, engineers have found several different green building material alternatives to concrete. For example, straw bales are now considered to be a better alternative to rebar and concrete construction. They provide high levels of insulation from hot and cold weather when sealed correctly.

Bamboo, with its high tensile strength, lightweight, and fast growth, is also a great alternative to concrete. It is affordable, readily available, and easy to use in construction. Other examples include recycled plastic, rammed earth, ferrock, timbercrete, hempcrete, ashcrete, mycelium, and wood.

2) Use Prefabricated Material

This process involves producing construction material such as doors, wall panels, floor panels, stairs, windows, walls, and roof trusses in a controlled environment. You can transport and assemble various prefabricated components on the site. It is not only cost-effective but is also an environment-friendly method of producing construction material.

Usually, traditional on-site construction methods require extra materials, resulting in waste. It also leads to air and soil pollution as there is no way to treat the effluents and air particles released during cutting and processing in an open environment. A controlled environment, on the other hand, allows better air filtration and increased energy efficiency.

An increasing number of engineers and architects are using Building Information Management (BIM) systems to build cost-effective, highly efficient, and good quality building material such as air vents and ducts. Technology has also made it possible to build completely prefabricated houses, apartments, and cabins. In Australia, prefabricated, modular and offsite construction now represents 3% of its building and construction industry, contributing $150 billion to the economy.

3) Discourage the Use of Paper Blueprints Drawings and Specs

This may seem trivial, but preventing the use of paper blueprints, drawings, and specs can save a lot of trees. But most importantly, it will save a lot of your time, reduce material waste, and help turn your project around quickly. Instead of using paper, you should invest in construction management software.

This software allows users to schedule the complete construction project, calculate and control various costs, manage the portfolio and documents, analyze the risk, and track the progress of the project, and more. Most companies offer cloud-based solutions that support real-time communication between your on-site and off-site staff. With increased on-site productivity and reduced waste, your project is bound to have a positive impact on the environment.

4) Discard the Construction Waste Responsibly

Apart from using green building material, you will also need to get rid of the construction waste efficiently. Typical construction and demolition waste comprise shingles, lumber, pieces of drywall and concrete, gravel, wiring, ductwork, and glass and metal parts.

You need to recycle everything you can, which includes masonry, metal parts, plywood and lumber, cardboard and paper, and glass and plastic trash. You can reuse the masonry in other construction projects while sending the plastic, glass, and metal waste to the nearest recycling units. Lumber and plywood can be converted into mulch or biomass fuel. You can smelt the metal items, converting them into other products.

Be sure to set up a silt fence to control the sediment flow. It will help prevent nearby streams, rivers, and other water bodies from sediment contamination in stormwater runoff. It can prevent as much as 80% of water-borne particles from escaping, reducing the soil and water pollution considerably. It will also inhibit soil erosion by acting as a water break.

5) Using Energy-Efficient Construction and Material Handling Equipment

Another way to ensure sustainability is to use energy-efficient construction and material handling equipment. Use the right equipment to reduce energy waste. For example, when you use a suitable on-site generator, you can avoid wasting fuel. Similarly, you can use energy-efficient overhead cranes and other construction tools.

It may be challenging to repair and maintain energy-efficient construction equipment. Your staff may also need special training for handling such equipment. That’s why you should always hire local vendors to get the tools as they know local regulations, weather conditions, and material handling requirements perfectly. For example, a Houston material handling equipment supplier knows that you will need energy-efficient tools that will be able to survive mostly hot and humid weather.

6) Monitor Your Transport Fleet

Transportation is one of the main on-site construction activities. To reduce the carbon footprint generated by the transportation fleet, you can use a transportation management system. It will help you to monitor drivers and their driving behavior, control speed limit, map out the best possible routes and provide real-time proactive maintenance. All of these factors will help reduce air pollution substantially.

Alternatively, you can try using biodiesel for running your transport vehicles. It is a clean-burning diesel (fossil fuel) alternative. You can use it in existing diesel engines without any modifications. The U.S. biodiesel entrepreneurs produce nearly 3 billion gallons of biodiesel annually. Several major agricultural and construction equipment brands, including John Deere and Isuzu, are now offering B20 biodiesel-capable trucks and transport vehicles.

Wrapping Up

Historically, the construction industry has been viewed as a primary contributor to environmental pollution. However, the industry is working hard to build a more sustainable construction process. Contractors are increasingly using energy-efficient and environment-friendly construction vehicles, equipment, and building material. You can also reduce your carbon footprint and help save the environment by implementing these six-pointers. Don’t forget to tell us about your green construction efforts in the comments section below.

(Image source)


Moderated by : Clément Gaillard

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