A Greener Outlook for the Construction Industry

The construction industry is a vital part to any country’s economy and a vital component to all our lives, but the construction industry’s sustainability has a questionable past. It’s a well-known polluter and high carbon-emitter and can have devastating effects on the natural world. So do the construction sectors have a green and sustainable future?

Airborne and Waterborne Pollution

The construction site is a hive of activity. Not only are things being constructed, but things are also being demolished. Various construction sectors cause different types of pollution.

The demolition of buildings release dust into the air. The use of on-site construction vehicles also pollute the air. Using toxic substances and burning materials are two more culprits that can release potentially harmful particles into the air. Noise pollution is a problem too, affecting local residents and wildlife. Research from a few years ago by Bimhow estimated construction industry sectors contribute to 23% of air pollution.  

The pollution of water from a construction site is easy too. Dirty water full of silt can find its way into streams or rivers close by. Water can also be contaminated with paints, solvents or other chemicals finding their way into the environment. Furthermore, chemicals in the water soaking into the ground can contaminate drinking water. Bimhow estimated construction industry sectors are responsible for 40% of drinking water pollution, although some countries have regulations in place that construction companies should adhere to for minimizing this type of pollution. For example, the wastewater from the washing out of concrete, paints and oils is not for release into the surrounding environment.

Construction Carbon Emissions

In 2020 the UN environmental programme reported the construction industry sectors have increased their CO2 emissions to 9.95 Gigatonnes. This means the construction sectors account for 38% of worldwide carbon emissions that are energy linked.

The UK construction sectors account for roughly 40% of carbon emissions. The UK government and the construction industry sectors recognise this figure, and a plan is in place to decarbonisation the construction sectors. According to the Royal Academy of Engineering:

“The construction sector should adopt the same carbon emission reduction targets as the national targets of 68% and 78% by 2030 and 2035 respectively, compared to 1990 levels.”

It goes on to say:

“The construction sector has already made real progress; the concrete and cement industry has delivered a 53% reduction in absolute CO2 emissions since 1990, faster than the UK economy as a whole.”

The construction industry sectors recognise the problem and have started to act. Not only are new buildings built green with companies such as LEED and BREEAM leading the way in more environmentally constructed buildings, there are also plans to update and modernise existing buildings to bring them in line with the new builds. The construction sectors are also not immune to the net zero target of 2050, which the majority of countries in the world have signed up to.

Green Building

As briefly mentioned above, green buildings are now popular amongst the construction sectors. To indicate that a building is green, (although it varies from country to country and company to company) some of the criteria can include, efficient energy usage such as water and heating. Renewable energy can also be a significant part of a green building, such as the use of solar panels. The use of non-toxic materials in the construction process and limiting wastage and pollution output is also on the list.

A Deconstruction

The reliably inefficient and unfriendly to the environment construction industry has been undergoing a radical overhaul over the last few decades. With ‘climate change’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ all phrases never far away from anyone’s lips, the construction industry sectors have been left with no choice. Construction is changing the way it operates and is becoming ‘sustainable’ and as much as it can ‘environmentally friendly’. The construction sectors are now taking into account the planet’s future and the people living upon it. With great leaps having been taken already, the construction industry sectors are making up for lost time and are deconstructing in order to reconstruct their industry.

Don’t hesitate to contact Maxim construction recruitment agency for your role in the ‘green’ future of the construction industry.

Kelvin Brown
Maxim Recruitment Intern