It’s clear that the various signs of climate change impact everyone. This is why fighting climate change is understandably becoming a top priority not only for governments but for businesses and individuals as well. However, despite this growing public consciousness, we are still not on track to meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. Because of this, every individual and sector is being called upon to make impactful changes to the way we do things. And one of the sectors that can play a great role in this fight against climate change is the construction industry.
Why the Construction Industry? What makes the Construction Industry a main player in reducing global carbon emissions?
It’s One of the Biggest Contributors of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
The building and construction sectors are the biggest contributors of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Building materials and the construction process generate 13% of the world’s global carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the way a building has been planned and constructed also affects its operations, including its heating and lighting requirements. This means that the construction sector is called upon on the global stage to play a central role in meeting decarbonization goals.
Raw Materials Traditionally Used in Construction are Energy-Intensive.
The production of construction materials such as aluminum, steel, and concrete requires a lot of energy. In fact, these three materials account for 23% of total global emissions. This number can be significantly reduced if those in the construction sector work to lessen the use of such materials through improved planning and allocation, recycling, and better sourcing practices.
Building Design and Construction Affects Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions. There are various factors that can affect an operating building’s energy consumption. But the design and construction of the building can help eliminate or at least reduce energy-inefficient practices. Well-constructed buildings that allow for good ventilation and air circulation will allow for lower energy consumption from heating or cooling requirements. Additionally, better planning for lighting can reduce a building’s energy demand. Construction companies can also introduce renewable energy options to their clients. This way, they can also allocate space for alternative energy systems during the planning and building phases.
The construction industry as a whole is being urged to take a more active role in combating climate change. If you’re part of the industry, then here are some of the immediate changes you may want to consider making:
1. PURPOSEFUL PROCUREMENT
Eco-sustainability as part of your company culture is one thing, but it’s also crucial to lead by example. Aside from reviewing internal processes and closing sustainability gaps in your organization, it’s also important to inform and encourage your suppliers to do the same. Construction companies must remember that working with the right vendors can significantly decrease their Scope 3 emissions. As a construction business, you can improve your procurement practices by doing the following:
- Locally source materials and labor to decrease expenses and emissions related to transportation.
- Work with a green fleet for any transportation needs.
- Find suppliers who can offer alternatives to energy-intensive construction materials (steel, aluminum, etc.).
- Use renewable energy during the construction phase.
- Regularly measure carbon emissions throughout the construction life cycle, including those of your vendors.
2. PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
It’s important for construction companies to work closely with architects and their clients to create a building design that is both fully functional and climate-friendly. One of the main discussions should be how to make the building more energy-efficient. This includes creating plans that will demand less heating (or cooling), allow in more natural light, and provide proper ventilation. Additionally, as renewable energy systems become more common and cost-effective, it makes sense to include provisions for the installation of these systems.
3. REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE
Better construction planning and scheduling of machinery can also reduce energy consumption during the construction phase. Construction companies should also incorporate recycling and reusing into their business operations. During a demolition project or at the end of a construction project, contractors can include in their policies that whatever can be reused for future projects should not be disposed of haphazardly. The cost savings from these practices may seem insignificant at first, but their effect on reducing carbon emissions is invaluable.
4. KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING
Transparency is also a key component in ensuring that real progress is being made. Emissions disclosures for every build can help industry experts create a concrete baseline. For the construction sector to fast-track its sustainability progress, each player must be willing to share their best practices and adopt others’ as well. This open exchange of information will allow the creation of industry standards and commitments, further creating a clear path towards a greener building and construction sector.
Climate change won’t go anywhere if it’s not tackled head-on. And if we are to stay on track of our decarbonization goals, then every individual and business must play their parts to reduce global emissions and somehow try to reverse previous damage. It just so happens that the construction industry gets a bigger role in making these goals a possibility.
About the Author:
Kat Sarmiento is a content writer focusing on lifestyle, science, and smart hacks.
Modern Contractor Solutions, March 2023
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