The construction industry has become increasingly aware of the negative impact that building can have on the environment, and sustainability is no longer something that can be ignored. In this article, we will explore what sustainable construction is, why it is important, and how to apply sustainable practices to building projects.
Sustainable construction refers to the practice of conducting construction activities in accordance with the latest standards of environmental protection. This involves selecting renewable and recyclable materials over non-recyclable ones, as well as implementing best practices to reduce waste and excessive energy consumption.
The ultimate aim of the sustainable construction industry is to minimize the negative impact that the construction sector has on the environment and to promote environmental protection. By following sustainable practices, construction professionals can allocate their effort, skills, and resources towards creating environmentally-friendly buildings.
We have witnessed the significant negative impacts that many construction projects had on the environment, such as increased pollution, excessive energy consumption leading to contribution to global warming, and inefficient use of natural resources. These activities result in increased greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to waste generation.
Furthermore, it has been found that the building sector is responsible for 38% of all carbon emissions. However, research conducted in Australia has shown that construction and maintenance operations account for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Considering the impact of the building industry on our environment, focusing on sustainability in construction aims to achieve the following goals:
Sustainable building is based on solid principles that are expected to become mainstream in the construction industry. There are seven key principles of sustainable housing and building that we can emphasise.
There is a widespread belief among the public that applying sustainable design principles to construction is costly and will reduce the profitability of construction projects. Additionally, while sustainability is recognized as an important practice in construction globally, many local authorities in different countries have yet to establish laws that will promote and regulate sustainable construction practices.
The Australian government has implemented various measures to promote sustainability in the construction industry. Therefore, the government has set an ambitious goal to have new buildings with net-zero energy by 2030. To reduce carbon emissions, all new buildings must operate at net-zero carbon by 2030 and achieve zero emission target by 2050.
The advantages of sustainable construction are numerous, but we will focus on the most significant ones, which can be categorized into three main groups: financial, health, and ecological benefits.
Financial benefits include lower construction costs achieved through reduced waste and material expenses, as well as reduced labour costs. Sustainable construction also saves on utility bills by decreasing energy consumption, which in turn increases productivity and optimizes material usage.
Health benefits include improved outdoor air quality and reduced pollution, noise reduction, and fewer allergies and health issues caused by waste and artificial materials.
Ecological benefits include a decrease in overall environmental pollution and increase the conservation of natural resources by utilizing recycled materials.
Numerous construction companies have already acknowledged the significance of sustainable building practices and have incorporated them into their designs. Here is some advice on how to implement sustainability in construction:
A sustainable material is a material that can be easily recycled or reused and has a very low negative environmental impact. Ideally, the materials should be natural, and must not be affected by cold, heat, or humidity. A general approach would be to use recyclable and renewable materials whenever available, and using renewable energy as well.
Suitable materials for sustainable construction industry include wood, recycled metals, mud bricks, green thermal insulation, bamboo, recycled cement, straw bales, and sustainable concrete.