SUSTAINABILITY: SMALL CHANGES, BIG IMPACT
Sustainability in Construction 101 – Article 5:
How To Introduce Sustainability into Construction Workplaces: Small Changes, Big Impact
In this article, we will explore how professionals working in the construction industry such as Contracts Managers, Project Managers, Office Buyers, and Site Managers can introduce sustainability into construction workplaces.
In today’s construction industry, sustainability has become an increasingly important consideration. By implementing environmentally conscious practices and fostering a culture of sustainability, construction companies can reduce their ecological footprint, enhance their reputation and contribute to a greener future.
Even small changes in behaviour can have a significant positive impact!
Where to starT?
We are all aware of the impact construction has on the environment. According to the UK Green Building Council, the built environment is responsible for around 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. By adopting sustainable practices, the construction industry has a significant opportunity to contribute to reducing these emissions.
The workplace is an important starting point, so here are some practical ways to introduce sustainability into construction workplaces.
1. Raise awareness and foster a culture of sustainability
To kick-start sustainability initiatives, it is crucial to educate and engage employee’s across all levels of the organisation. Consider these following strategies:
A. Training and Education
Organise workshops, seminars, or training sessions to educate staff about sustainability principles, their significance, and potential benefits. Provide resources and case studies that demonstrate successful sustainability practices in the construction industry.
B. Leadership Support
Obtain support from senior management and ensure sustainability goals are incorporated into the company’s mission and values. Encourage managers to lead by example and actively participate in sustainable practices.
C. Employee engagement
Encourage employees to contribute their ideas and suggestions for sustainable practices. Establish channels for open communication and feedback to foster a sense of ownership and empowerment.
2. sustainable procurement
Make environmentally conscious choices when sourcing materials and selecting suppliers:
A. Supplier Selection
Prioritise suppliers who offer sustainable products and services. Think about factors such as their environmental certifications, responsible sourcing practices, and commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
When it comes to tool and equipment hire, consider companies that are certified carbon neutral and actively working towards sustainable goals and ultimately towards a target of net zero. By partnering with such companies, you can ensure that tools and equipment used on your construction products align your sustainability objectives. These certified carbon-neutral hire companies often implement practices such as optimising loads and transportation routes to reduce emissions.
By choosing them as your partners, you not only support their sustainability efforts but also contribute to the overall reduction of carbon emissions in the construction industry.
B. Material Choices
Opt for sustainable building materials, such as recycled content products, low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, and responsibly sourced timber. Explore alternatives to high-impact materials, such as concrete, when feasible.
3. green transportation and site operations
Address the environmental impact associated with transportation and onsite operations:
Encourage the use of eco-friendly transportation options, such as car sharing, cycling, or public transportation. Implement efficient routing and logistics planning to minimise fuel consumption.
B. On-site Practices
Promote environmentally friendly practices, such as proper sediment and erosion control, efficient use of machinery, and effective dust and noise management. Implement measures to reduce emissions, such as using electric-powered equipment where possible.
4. optimise resource management
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs indicates that improving resource efficiency can generate cost savings of up to 30% for businesses. By implementing sustainable procurement practices and optimising resource management, construction companies can reduce reduce material waste and associated costs.
Efficient use of resources is a key aspect of sustainability. By implementing the following practices, you can significantly reduce waste and improve resource efficiency:
A. Waste Reduction
Promote waste management practices, such as recycling and proper disposal of construction waste. Encourage the reuse of materials whenever possible and explore partnerships with recycling facilities.
The Energy Savings Trust highlights that by adopting energy-efficient measures, businesses in the UK can reduce their energy costs by up to 20%. This includes using energy-efficient equipment, optimising heating and cooling systems, and implementing energy-saving practices in the workplace.
Implement energy-efficient measures, such as using LED lighting, optimising heating and cooling systems, investing in energy-efficient equipment. Encourage employees to turn off lights and equipment when not in use.
C. Water Management
Monitor water consumption and implement measures to minimise usage, such as installing low-flow fixtures, collecting and reusing rainwater, and promoting awareness of water-saving practices.
5. transforming the office environment
Sustainability in the construction industry is not limited to the construction site. Making small changes within the office environment can also contribute to a greener workplace.
Consider the following practices:
A. Energy-Efficient Equipment
Encourage the use of energy-efficient computers, printers, and other office equipment. Activate power-saving features and encourage employees to turn off equipment when not in use. Implement paperless initiatives, such as digital documentation and electronic communication, to reduce paper consumption.
B. Recycling and Waste Management
Place recycling bins throughout the office and provide clear instructions for proper waste disposal. Encourage employee’s to recycle plastic, plastic, and other recyclable materials. Consider implementing composting programs for food waste in the office cafeteria or kitchen.
C. Sustainable Purchasing
Encourage the procurement of eco-friendly office supplies, such as recycled paper, non-toxic cleaning products, and energy-efficient lighting. Prioritise suppliers that offer sustainable and environmentally responsible products.
D. Green Commuting
Promote sustainable commuting practices among office employee’s, such as car sharing, public transportation, or cycling. Provide incentives for employees who choose eco-friendly transportation options, such as preferred parking spots or public transportation subsidies.
By making small changes within the office environment, construction companies can further contribute to sustainability efforts, reduce their environmental impact, inspire employees to adopt sustainable practices both at work and in their personal lives.
Introducing sustainability into the construction workplace is a responsibility shared by all construction professionals including Contracts Managers, Project Managers, Office Buyers, and Site Managers. By taking small yet impactful steps, construction companies can contribute to a more sustainable future.
By raising awareness, optimising resource management, making sustainable procurement choices, and implementing green transportation and site operations, the construction industry can reduce its environmental impact, inspire positive change and build a greener and more sustainable construction industry for future generations.