Sustainability in construction: A Guide To Getting Started

Sustainability in Construction 101 – Article 3:

Taking your first steps on the sustainability journey

Sustainability in construction is becoming increasingly important as the construction industry seeks to reduce its environmental impact and improve its social responsibility. Subcontractors play a crucial role in this effort as they are often responsible for specific aspects of construction projects, such as electrical or plumbing work, that can have a significant impact on sustainability.

As a sub-contractor in the UK construction industry, you may be wondering where to start on your sustainability journey. With increasing pressure from clients, regulators, and the public to reduce carbon emissions and operate sustainably, it’s more important than ever to prioritise sustainability in your work.

Sustainability for subcontractors

As a subcontractor in the UK construction industry, you are in a unique position to make a real difference to the sustainability of the built environment. By taking small steps, you can help to reduce your impact on the planet and create a more sustainable future for all.

Here are a few tips on how to take your first steps on the sustainability journey.


Educate Yourself

The first step to sustainability is education. There are many resources available online, including blogs, articles, and industry publications, that can help you understand sustainable practices in construction. You can also attend workshops or webinars to learn more about sustainable construction practices.

Sustainability lightbulb

Set goals

Once you have a basic understanding of the issues, it’s time to set some goals for yourself. What do you want to achieve by becoming more sustainable? Do you want to reduce your energy consumption? Cut down on waste? Or perhaps you want to make your business more carbon neutral.

Conduct a sustainability audit

Before making any changes, it’s important to understand your current sustainability performance. Conducting a sustainability audit can help you identify areas where you can improve, such as energy consumption, waste reduction, or ethical practices.


Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, develop a sustainability plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and timeline for implementation. This plan should be specific, measurable, and achievable.

COnsider Sustainable materials

Look for opportunities to use sustainable materials in your work. This could include using reclaimed or recycled materials, choosing materials with a low carbon footprint, or sourcing materials locally to reduce transportation emissions.

Focus on energy efficiency

Energy consumption is a major contributor to environmental impact in construction. Consider ways you can make your work more energy-efficient, such as installing energy-efficient lighting or HVAC systems, using insulation and weatherstripping, or designing buildings to maximize natural light.

Reduce Waste

Construction generates a lot of waste, but there are many ways you can reduce it. Consider recycling materials, using materials efficiently to reduce waste, or planning your work to minimize unnecessary demolition and reconstruction.

Recycled materials bin

Consider certifications and standards

There are various certifications and standards for sustainable construction, such as LEED or BREEAM. Consider working towards these certifications to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability and differentiate yourself from competitors.

COnsider becoming carbon neutral

Becoming carbon neutral is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment and take the first step towards net zero. There are many ways to become carbon neutral, and the best approach will vary depending on your business size and industry.

One way to become carbon neutral is to offset your emissions. This means investing in projects that reduce or remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or investing in renewable energy.

Another way to become carbon neutral is to reduce your energy consumption. This can be done by installing energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and by making changes to your work practices.

You can also become carbon neutral by reducing your waste. This can be done by recycling and composting, and by making changes to your packaging and delivery practices.

Sustainability at THX - Carbon Neutral Business

Becoming carbon neutral is a great way to show your commitment to sustainability and to help protect the environment. By taking this step, you can help to create a more sustainable future for all.

Here are some tips for becoming carbon neutral as a stepping stone towards your net zero journey:

  1. Start by measuring your carbon footprint. This will help you to identify the areas where you can make the biggest impact.
  2. Set realistic goals. It’s important to set goals that you can achieve. Don’t try to do everything at once.
  3. Get help from experts. There are many organisations that can help you to become carbon neutral. They can provide you with advice and support.
  4. Celebrate your successes. As you make progress, celebrate your successes. This will help you to stay motivated.

Why start now?

Starting on your sustainability journey now can benefit your business in several ways. Here are just a few reasons to start now:

Regulatory compliance

The UK government has set ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions, including a target of net-zero emissions by 2050. The construction industry is a significant contributor to carbon emissions, so it’s likely that regulations and standards for sustainable construction will become more stringent in the coming years. By starting on your sustainability journey now, you can ensure you are well positioned to comply with future regulations and avoid potential penalties.

Regulatory compliance sustainability

Competitive Advantage

Clients are increasingly prioritising sustainability in their procurement decisions. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and win more business. This is particularly important as the construction industry becomes more competitive, and clients become more discerning in their selection of suppliers.

Cost savings

Sustainable practices can often result in cost savings, particularly in the long term. For example, energy-efficient buildings can reduce energy bills and improve occupant comfort, while waste reduction can reduce landfill fees and material costs. By adopting sustainable practices, you can improve your bottom line while also benefiting the environment.

Reputation and branding

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important factor in brand reputation and customer loyalty. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, you can improve your reputation and build trust with clients, employees, and other stakeholders. This can lead to increased brand loyalty and improved business performance in the long term.

IN summary

Starting on your sustainability journey now is important for regulatory compliance, competitive advantage, cost savings, and reputation and branding. By prioritizing sustainability in your work, you can differentiate yourself from competitors, attract new business, and demonstrate your commitment to building a better future for all.

So, take your first step today and begin your sustainability journey.

Further Reading:

Sustainability 101:

1. What is sustainability and why does it matter to your business?

2. Unpacking sustainability jargon – what do some of these terms actually mean?

3. Taking your first steps on the sustainability journey – where to start?

4. How to approach your sustainability strategy

5. How to introduce sustainability into construction workplaces: small changes, big impact.

6. Leading the way: The role of leadership in achieving sustainability in construction.

7. Understanding Greenwashing and how to avoid it.

8. Looking to the Future

Subscribe to our newsletter

Email address: