A Beginner’s Guide to Sustainable Construction
Sustainability is arguably one of the most talked about issues in society today and isn’t simply a buzzword likely to disappear in a few years’ time. If we fail to tackle sustainability now, we face the stark reality of permanently damaging our environment and depleting resources in a way that could prevent future generations from meeting their own survival needs. As a result of the ever-growing social consciousness to protect our environment and our planet, the construction industry is one of many facing increasing pressures to improve the sustainability of each and every aspect of their work.
Sustainability in Construction
From the choice of materials, to the building process and the overall goal of reducing the impact of a building or site on the environment, sustainability in construction is a complex issue. It encompasses all that is required to ensure we maintain a healthy, natural environment in and around a site both now, and in the future.
In this article we delve into many of the areas of concern for sustainability in construction as well as taking a look at the associated benefits of doing all we can to protect our planet.
Choice of Material
Many of the materials traditionally used in vast quantities in construction fail to have the environmental credentials we now strive to achieve. Concrete, for example, creates large amounts of CO2 during manufacturing, and the mining of specific stone not only relies on heavy machinery but depletes a natural resource without the opportunity for replenishment. Using materials that are natural and renewable is a far more sustainable practice, with timber being a prime example. The majority of timber merchants are making every effort to be transparent about where and how they source their timber to ensure it is sustainable. If you’re unsure, make sure you ask first.
At NORclad, we are committed to the protection and sustainability of the environment and fully research each supplier we source our wood products from. We have a dedicated page on our site to help you discover more.
Once a decision on the choice of materials has been made, you can further increase the environmental credentials of a project by carefully considering where that material is sourced. When it comes to using timber, many countries, including the UK have a huge amount of species without the need to ship from overseas.
Much of the machinery traditionally used in construction, particularly for large scale projects, involves the heavy-use of fossil fuels. Looking for ways to minimise the use of such machinery, or even investing in greener options might seem costly up-front but could actually save your construction company money in the long-term by reducing fuel costs and increasing efficiency.
With clients becoming more and more focused on greener builds, companies that don’t rely on carbon guzzling machinery could also stand out amongst competitors allowing you to charge a premium to cover any extra expense incurred.
Sustainability encompasses more than the materials required to meet the needs of a job, but also how we minimise the waste produced in meeting those needs. Any process that produces waste that is harmful to the environment or has to go to landfill is considered unsustainable. Using non-toxic and organic building materials where-ever possible, as is the case with timber, reduces the creation of harmful waste. For many projects though, it is almost inevitable that waste will be produced, especially when the construction of something new involves the demolition of a previous building.
A great strategy for construction companies to improve the sustainability in such circumstances is to make sure they utilise the opportunities to recycle materials. Old timber, sand, rubble, glass, doors and frames are all examples of materials that could be re-used, whether it is in your own project or made available to others rather than being sent straight to landfill.
The sustainability of the construction industry has a vital role to play in the long-term environmental credentials of a building. Inefficient buildings can easily lead to unnecessary energy usage further down the line and maximising energy efficiency in the long-term is something clients are looking for reassurance on.
Again, this can come down to the careful choice of material. Timber is naturally insulating, which makes timber cladding a great choice for improving the energy efficiency of existing structures. The design of the building can also play a huge role, with natural light being a cost-effective way of reducing energy bills if carefully thought-out during construction.
Benefits of Sustainable Construction
Ultimately, the goal of any sustainable practice is to reduce the harmful impact on our environment and protect our planet for future generations. Sustainable construction has the potential to make a profound impact and lead positive change towards a greener planet.
Lower Energy Costs
The pressure to keep costs as low as possible can add to the challenge of adopting sustainable methods in construction. By using greener machinery or even greener methods in the construction process, you are likely to find your energy costs are reduced, giving you the opportunity to make savings in the long-term.
Reduced Waste and Associated Costs
By reducing waste, particularly that which needs careful disposal, the industry can make large savings too. This can free up some of the budget for greener materials, or locally sourced materials and adds to the overall appeal to clients who are concerned with the environmental impact of their build.
For many, a desire to adopt more sustainable practices brings a sense of satisfaction by doing the right thing. As a business, you of course also have a corporate social responsibility to support good causes and sustainable construction is an opportunity to showcase your concern for the environment and stand out from the crowd.
The end result of sustainable construction is a building or site that has excellent environmental credentials and with demand so high, this adds a premium to the value of any such site.
Learn More About NORclad
Meeting sustainability goals in construction is by no means an easy, over-night process. That said, the industry represents a huge opportunity to make a positive change and there is so much that can be achieved with careful thought and management. If you are looking to utilise the natural beauty and incredible properties of timber to boost the environmental credentials of your project, here at NORclad we are ready to help.
As a specialist manufacturer of wood cladding with over 40 years of experience, we are passionate about the use of one the world’s finest natural resources. To find out more, get in touch with a member of our friendly team today.