Many decisions in the built environment are made with sustainability in mind to ensure that the project as a whole meets wider sustainability targets.

What is the secret to sustainability in construction?

Becoming more sustainable as a business is a huge talking point, particularly for companies in the heavy industries; construction, transportation and manufacturing. However, sustainability isn’t a challenge facing one sector alone, it is something that impacts all of us from both an economic and environmental viewpoint.

What does sustainability mean?

Sustainability can have very different interpretations depending on the sector in which you operate. Ultimately, in 2018 we’re working even harder to support contractors to become more sustainable and increase efficiencies within the supply chain. By investing in smart technologies, skilled people and taking a bird’s eye view of the whole supply chain, greater efficiencies and sustainability can be achieved.

Why is sustainability important to my business?

The importance of sustainability in the construction sector stems from the UK government setting ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions by 57% in 2030 based on 1990 levels. Not only does the construction sector have a responsibility to play its part in helping to meet these targets but there are some huge cost saving benefits to be had too.

But what are the true secrets to meeting sustainability targets in construction projects? What practices should you adopt as a site manager and which technologies should you invest in to improve sustainability? How can you reduce waste onsite? Here we outline key areas you need to know if you’re a project manager looking to meet your sustainability targets:

How can prefabrication improve sustainability on a construction site?

Prefabrication not only increases onsite safety but it reduces delivery time, manages quality control and reduces costs.

A recent report released by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Systemiq has revealed the multiple economic and environmental benefits that prefabrication can bring, particularly in the housing sector. With 95% of construction taking place in a warehouse, there are clear sustainability benefits to building a house offsite, for example.

Another example is in the use of prefabricated steel on construction sites. A study by the Steel Construction Institute showed around a 70% reduction in waste was possible when using offsite steel construction technology[1]. The same study also revealed a 40% decrease in site vehicle traffic. Overall, less journeys are made to site as modules are fully assembled offsite which in turn means less waste needs collecting.

Low-carbon transport and logistics

Working with suppliers that invest in sustainable practices and processes can improve the overall sustainability of a construction project. For example, choose partners that have a FORS accredited fleet of vehicles. This is the kite mark for best practice in transportation and means that any FORS accredited business adheres to high safety, efficiency, and environmental protection standards.

Also, check whether your supply chain partners are part of the Co2 Count Scheme – an initiative to help fleets manage and reduce carbon emissions. It may seem obvious but a sustainable supplier is one that monitors carbon emissions and is taking active steps to reduce them. Any forward-thinking supplier will be adopting these schemes in order to help you meet your targets.

Engineered design solutions

By working with suppliers that use technologies such as Navisworks, Revit, RSTAB, SolidWorks or SketchUP to provide engineered design solutions for where standard products are not viable has multiple benefits. Not only are these solutions cost effective and innovative but they also help increase onsite safety and minimise waste. More importantly, 3D CAD designs can save a huge amount of time as each component of a building structure or product can also be calculated, analysed and measured every step of the way.

Why should I prioritise sustainability?

Clients are becoming more aware of sustainability and are starting to choose trusted suppliers who implement best practice and projects funded by the public purse are becoming more stringent on this.

Contractors are now expected to evidence sustainable practices such as waste management, low-carbon transport and logistics, sustainable product design and employ workers from a certain radius, just to name a few. And supply chain partners are required to show how they can add value to customers through adopting sustainable processes and procurement methods.

Whatever your goals in 2018, ensure that sustainability is at the forefront of any business decision. There are some real gains to be had for construction firms and contractors that are able to demonstrate and evidence a sustainable approach.