With an increase in natural disasters in recent years, the environment is becoming a major concern. The construction industry is just one of the many sectors under scrutiny and pressure to reduce their impact on the environment, particularly due to the use of chemicals and large equipment, such as Tunnelling Machinery. It is becoming an industry standard to build sustainably and use environmentally friendly building methods but exactly how green is the construction industry?
One of the main causes of global warming is carbon emissions. The use of fossil fuels is a major contributor to increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the UK, the fossil fuels used in the construction industry accounts for approximately 10% of the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions. This includes transportation, manufacturing and the building process. This figure is extremely high and, as a result, the government has set a target of reducing total greenhouse gas emissions by 80pc by 2050.
The use of sustainable materials, which don’t have such a polluting impact on the environment, is becoming increasingly common in the construction industry. There are now alternative cements available, to reduce the high levels of CO2 caused during building, which require less energy to produce. Other sustainable materials, such as wood, straw bales and compressed soil are being increasingly used throughout the construction industry. Sustainable wood, such as bamboo, reduces the impact on the environment significantly as less deforestation is required.
The amount of waste produced in the construction industry is causing significant damage to the environment. Reducing the amount of waste that is produced is one way the construction industry is becoming more environmentally friendly. In general, over-ordering is one of the main reasons that the construction industry is so wasteful, so builders and project managers are being encouraged to use more efficient ordering systems to reduce the amount of waste material they generate. Increasingly, construction workers are learning to be savvy with materials and reuse wherever they can. For example, when renovating an old building it is becoming more common for old fixtures to be refurbished or reused instead of being discarded. When it is not possible to reuse materials, environmentally-friendly construction companies are recycling instead of taking waste straight to polluting landfill sites.
A large amount of carbon emissions in the UK are produced by transportation. The construction industry, which requires transport for delivering materials and moving between building sites, is contributing heavily to these emissions. Fortunately, it is relatively straightforward for the construction industry to reduce their impact. Many companies are switching to more energy efficient vehicles and are sourcing materials locally, helping them to save money and reduce the impact on the environment. The weight of materials is a direct contributor to the amount of energy used. For this reason, construction companies are starting to choose lightweight materials and ensure that their materials are packaged efficiently.
Overall, significant progress is being made within the construction industry to reduce its impact on the environment. However, as with the rest of the UK, there is still a considerable way to go before targets are met.