The right strategy can make your team a leader in sustainable construction. Meeting sustainability targets on-site may seem like a daunting task, especially if your team is new to these initiatives. Green building is all about making the right changes to your process. Even a few minor tweaks can get you on track to exceed your targets.
These tactics are a great place to start. Using one or all of these methods can make a huge difference in the footprint your building leaves behind. Here’s how to exceed sustainability targets on your construction site and ensure your project is as eco-friendly as possible.
1. Integrate Reclaimed Materials
The saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” may be a cliche, but in sustainable construction, it’s great advice. One of the leading trends for sustainability in construction today is reclaimed materials, particularly lumber and masonry. These items reduce strain on the environment by reducing waste and consumption of new raw materials. They can also save you significant amounts of money on your projects.
Reclaimed materials can look fantastic, as well. A great example is the Kendeda Building at the Georgia Institute of Technology. This innovative project used over 25,000 feet of reclaimed lumber from film sets around Atlanta, as well as used lumber from other renovations going on around the university’s campus.
2. Use Renewable Power
You may be able to switch to renewable energy depending on where your site is located and your power needs. For instance, if you’re in a consistently sunny area, you could swap your conventional on-site generator for a solar-powered one. This is a great way to hit sustainability targets while also saving money on energy bills. The initial investment will pay off in the long run since you’ll be getting power for things like lighting and tools from natural resources instead of paying for fossil fuel-powered energy.
3. Reduce Equipment Emissions
Arguably the largest source of emissions on construction sites is vehicles and equipment. Cutting down on this output is a surefire way to meet sustainability targets. There are a few ways to go about this. For example, you can choose vehicles with engines that meet Tier 4 emissions standards, which are designed to emit lower levels of nitrogen oxides. These machines may require more attentive maintenance and specific types of diesel fuel, but they’ll take a chunk out of your on-site greenhouse gas emissions.
Regardless of the vehicles used on-site, you’ll want to minimize fuel consumption to meet sustainability targets. This includes eliminating idle time and optimizing equipment usage. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors are great for monitoring and optimizing this. These sensors can be integrated into existing vehicles and track performance and fuel consumption. They report data back to a designated hub. This information allows you to identify where vehicles and fuel are being used inefficiently and focus on those areas to reduce emissions.
4. Utilize Design Software
A project’s design team can utilize design software to improve sustainability in construction, including on-site. Building information modelling (BIM) is one of the most popular types of software in the industry. It makes the design process easier, but it also creates valuable opportunities for improving sustainability.
One of the main contributors to poor sustainability on construction sites is a lack of visibility. Construction teams cannot cut back emissions or reduce waste if they have no information on where it’s coming from. One of the biggest advantages of using BIM software is that it improves clarity. You can get a highly detailed overview of an entire project, inside and outside. This data can help improve design sustainability while also reducing on-site waste due to errors and corrections.
5. Employ Automation
Automation excels at delivering efficiency and quality on construction sites. Improving sustainability in construction is all about optimizing and fine-tuning how we use every material and every minute on-site. Finding ways to automate processes with robotics or AI can help you meet green building targets by streamlining key processes.
Industry leaders have pointed out that the precision and accuracy of robots are key for green construction projects. Robots make fewer mistakes than humans because they can perform repetitive tasks innumerable times without diminishing returns that would otherwise be caused by fatigue or lack of focus. This results in much lower waste produced on-site due to errors and corrections. Machines can perform repetitive tasks with high precision and accuracy, so they work more efficiently, minimizing power consumption.
Construction robots are growing in variety, as well, from rebar-tying to bricklaying to road paving and everywhere in between.
6. Try 3D Printing
3D printing may be the key to far exceeding sustainability targets. Certain types may not be an option for your project, but the technology is worth utilizing when possible. For instance, industry leaders estimate that 3D-printed buildings using green cement alternatives can reduce carbon emissions by 60% compared to conventional construction methods. You can also use 3D printing to create new tools or parts on-site in addition to whole structures.
Additive manufacturing as a whole is a highly sustainable technology because it optimizes power and materials consumption. There is virtually no waste, especially compared to traditional construction methods. Only the precise amount of material needed is used. The build time can typically be significantly reduced when 3D printing an entire house, and fewer people and vehicles are required on-site. The carbon footprint can be reduced even further by powering 3D printers with renewable energy.
Building Sustainability in Construction
Improving sustainability in construction is a goal that requires the help of every person within the industry, whether you are in charge of a major commercial project or renovating your home. Meeting green targets on your site is a matter of staying aware of your environmental impact and finding ways to reduce it.
These strategies are a great starting point for reducing your carbon footprint on various projects. The key to green construction is building sustainable habits on-site, one step at a time. This will help you meet sustainability goals and feel good about what you do.