Last Updated on March 16, 2022 by Admin
Sustainability has been a popular buzzword — something companies could tack onto their brand to bring in the growing number of people worrying about climate change. Today, if someone uses this word in their tagline, they need to be able to back it up. The green construction movement is gaining momentum every year.
What does the state of sustainable construction look like in 2022, and how can we expect it to change in the coming years?
More Government Regulations on the Horizon
Countries are working to reduce their environmental impact and make regulations to match. Legislation like the Construction Products Regulation, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the European Green Deal are all making things more difficult for industries that generate a lot of greenhouse gasses.
The deadline for a 50% reduction of net carbon emissions is 2030 to avert a massive climate crisis. The construction industry will likely see more and stricter regulations emerging as that date approaches.
Reducing Emissions and Waste
Upwards of 75% of all construction waste ends up in landfills — and in 2018, that totaled nearly 145 million tons of discarded lumber, bricks, shingles, and drywall panels. Reducing waste will play an enormous role in making construction more sustainable.
Companies can approach this challenge in different ways. They can opt for hydrogen-powered or electric equipment over more traditional gas or diesel options or adopt lean construction methods that can help reduce waste across the board.
Building a Digital Ecosystem
Construction might seem very analog to the casual observer, but there are many opportunities to begin building a digital ecosystem. In addition to making projects run more efficiently, opting for digital records and data storage is more sustainable.
At its most basic, digital ecosystems eliminate the need for paper records or physical storage space. They make it easier to access critical data, making informed decision-making easier.
Becoming Risk Averse
There are three primary players when it comes to data services — Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. As the big three make changes to create more sustainable service, they are also working to become risk-averse. According to industry experts, the act of working to become greener also makes companies choose “the preservation of capital over the potential for a higher-than-average return.”
Creating More Visibility
Most steps are taken to make a project or company more eco-friendly have been done behind closed doors. There was no call to advertise or promote a commitment to sustainability because the population as a whole wasn’t concerned.
Now, with the words climate crisis on the tip of everyone’s tongue, transparency surrounding sustainability initiatives is essential. Publishing something as simple as a blog detailing a company’s energy usage can showcase a commitment to sustainability within the industry, attracting more customers.
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Reclaimed or Recycled vs. Raw Materials
Millions of tons of construction materials end up in landfills every year — but much of it doesn’t have to go to waste. Construction and demolition debris can often be recycled or reclaimed and used for new projects.
Wood, concrete, drywall, and other common materials are easy to reclaim and reuse directly or recycle into new materials. Concrete and asphalt can be broken up and used as aggregate to create new construction materials. Depending on their condition, things like cabinetry, doors, and other removable features can easily be relocated to a new project to prevent them from ending up in landfills.
Sustainability From the Ground Up
Instead of making small changes, many companies are beginning to focus on a “sustainability from the ground up” model that ensures each process is carefully planned and carried out to reduce emissions and waste. LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — certifications are becoming more important as architects create the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly homes and businesses moving forward.
Creating a More Sustainable Future
The construction industry is one of the biggest carbon culprits. Making changes to create a more sustainable future is now a necessity and not an option. Construction might generate a lot of greenhouse gas emissions and waste now, but it also has the greatest potential for positive change.
Jane is an environmental and green technology writer who covers topics in sustainable construction and green building materials. She also works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co.
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