The construction industry is considered to be one of the most unsustainable sectors in the world.
Statistics shows that the construction industry contributes to around 23% of air pollution, 50% of climate change and a further 50% to landfill waste. Whilst also consuming 400 million tons of raw material every year causing major damage to the planet.
This was the catalyst the World Green Building Council needed to lead their Advancing Net Zero Campaign. This means transitioning the construction and property industry into a net zero carbon-built environment. They’re now championing all buildings to be net zero carbon by 2050 and all new buildings to be net zero carbon by 2030. But this campaign has had its fair share of scepticism and doubt from those within the construction and property industry. So, in order to meet these requirements, set by the World Green Building Council, how do you go about breaking down these sustainability barriers the construction industry have built over the years?
The first steps to bringing down these sustainability barriers is through collaboration on all levels. From manufacturing and every process in between through to the final project, a sustainability culture needs to be reinforced with everyone in agreement. This sustainable culture needs to be formed before any barriers are demolished, as collaboration across the whole industry is the only way in which the sector reduces its carbon footprint and its climate change impact. With collaboration from every aspect in the industry, this will enable the sector to improve and strengthen plans, agendas and processes that already exist. For example, Willmott Dixon have their very own sustainable development plan, which contains an initiative called ‘Think Outside the Skip’. This idea was to initially reduce the amount of waste that gets sent to landfill sites during and after their projects. They posed the question, ‘if we had no skips on site, what would you do?’ This subsequently led to conversations with supply chain partners in order to pull together a proactive plan before going onto site. According to Willmott Dixon, they trialed their approach on a project in Liverpool, and their predicted number of skips needed for this project was 593; yet 18 months into a 22-month project with this initiative, they only deployed 44. This shows that with some collaboration and forward thinking, sustainable construction is possible.
Secondly, we know that the construction industry has a comfortable way of working. But what if this lack of awareness and education, around the impacts the sector has on the environment, is preventing them from seeing the benefits being sustainable can have? More education and awareness on various types of sustainable products, solutions and ways of working will stimulate further innovative ideas and initiatives that this sector needs, like Willmott Dixon’s. However, there is one barrier that stands in the way of sustainable construction even with education and awareness, and it’s the limited selection of sustainable products on the market. A quote from our roundtable virtual discussion saw Graham Edgill the Sustainability and Procurement Director at Morgan Sindall state,
“Think about the intrinsic value of projects and materials, the only way to do this is geographically and working together, that includes bringing the supply chain with you…we are in a 2% industry and every second is £1.50 per person on site so we all have views to reduce our waste… there’s only one solution which is, we need to engage with the supply chain.”
For this industry to overcome scepticism of going green, there needs to be a commitment from manufacturers and the supply chain to utilise new technologies and ways of working to produce more and more sustainable products and services.
So, we ask; is collaboration between all partners the key to breaking down these sustainability barriers built by the construction industry? What do you think this sector can do to become completely net zero carbon by 2030/2050?
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