How to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Construction
On a global scale, the construction industry is one of the highest environmentally damaging, with large mining and construction projects posing significant negative impacts on the surrounding environment. This can be everything from the processes used in mining materials, the disturbance to surrounding flora and fauna and waste products produced and disposed of.
As the industry continues to expand and grow, we need to find ways to minimise these impacts through innovative technology and safety practices. This is to ensure we have a sustainable construction industry, which is scalable in line with our increasing population.
How Does the Construction Industry Impact the Environment?
There are many ways the construction industry can have a negative impact on the surrounding environment. Identifying the issues associated with these projects will help minimise the risks, such as:
• Construction Pollution
This is a major consideration with construction, in particular air, water and noise pollution.
• Energy Use
The construction sectors combined are responsible for over one-third of global energy consumption and nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions.
• Removing Native Habitats
Land clearing for construction projects leads to the removal of native habitats for many flora and fauna species.
• Ground Water
Construction projects may impact the groundwater environment during construction and in the longer term.
By identifying some of the potential impacts, we can manage the projects to minimise the long-term environmental impacts.
How to Minimise Environmental Risks from Construction
There are so many small and large-scale strategies to minimise the environmental impacts of construction. Taking the time to include an environmental strategy in your project planning, will help ensure reduce your impact.
• Increasing Energy Efficiency of Tools Used
Climate change has put energy efficiency in the spotlight, in a good way. Innovations in tool efficiencies mean you can now select low energy use tools. You can also track the energy use of individual tools and machinery on a construction site, to identify problem areas. In Australia, the government rates energy-efficient appliances to help consumers make educated choices.
• Using Sustainable Materials
Using sustainable materials can not only limit environmental impacts but can also save your project money. This can be in the actual price of the materials, but also in the energy savings they provide.
Some examples include:
- Recycled materials: using recycled materials, such as wood and metal
- Cement: made from recycled plastic
- Green thermal insulation: to reduce reliance on air-conditioning and heating
- Straw bales: used to replace plaster and concrete alternatives
- Bamboo: a lightweight renewable alternative to many wood products
• Minimising & Disposing of Waste
It is no surprise, one of those most environmentally damaging side effects of construction is waste production, with construction and demolition waste contributing to 40% of landfill waste. Having a waste management strategy in place to minimise this, is an important way to reduce construction environmental impacts.
Some examples include:
- Plan ahead and avoid overordering and order as needed
- Purchase sustainable materials
- Use an environmentally friendly waste disposal service
- Packaging from building supplies (such as cardboard and plastic) should be sorted and recycled
- Use offcuts efficiently, rather than discarding
• Safety Procedures to Minimise Accidents
By having appropriate safety procedures in place, you can hopefully stop damage to the surrounding environment caused by fire, chemical spills and so on.
Ensure your emergency response plans account for oil and chemical spills to limit any damage to the environment from accidents. At Bee Jays Canvas, we create custom tarpaulins to minimise spills & pollution, which will help stop environmental damage.
Our custom tarps are constructed from flame-retardant fabrics so can be used in hot work enclosures. They are also chemical resistant and can be used to contain asbestos and other dangerous materials.
• Vehicle Efficiency
The transport sector accounts for 16 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. By employing vehicle efficiency strategies, we can cut down on emissions and fuel usage on construction sites, this includes:
- Reduce haul distances
- Reduce vehicle idle time – consider truckload restraint curtains to save idle time
- Use hybrid vehicles where possible
- Consider LPG or greener fuel sources
- Plan ahead to avoid unnecessary vehicle usage
Consider the Environment When Planning Construction Projects
With global warming increasing populations around the world, it is immensely important to do whatever we can to protect the environment from unnecessary damage from the construction industry. By putting in place an environmental protection strategy in construction project planning, building sustainably and reducing carbon emissions in construction will go a long way towards reducing environmental impacts and protecting our world in the future.