When we say sustainability, we mean...
It’s widely acknowledged that the construction industry relies on and consumes natural resources on a vast scale. Research from construction blog Bimhow suggested that in 2021, the construction sector contributed to 23% of air pollution, 50% of climatic change, 40% of drinking water pollution and 50% of landfill wastes. With demand in the built environment predicted to keep growing at a steady pace, this consumption is only likely to increase.
The industry is placing greater priority on green credentials, and companies are working towards becoming net zero to minimise their impact on the planet. But as pressure mounts worldwide to manage the impact of climate change, and the availability of natural resources become more finite, the debate on the role the industry can play in creating a more sustainable future is evolving at pace.
What does sustainability mean in construction?
The definition of sustainability can vary. Within construction, it can be referred to as ‘eco’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ processes. It can be small changes to operations which better look after our planet. Overall, it requires a balance of economic growth, environmental care and social well-being so in that sense, when we consider sustainability, we can focus on three key areas - people, place and planet. Today, businesses must consider how they rank for all three.
Right now, there is a strict mandate on businesses working in all areas of the construction industry supply chain to work towards carbon net zero targets, while proposals such as those in the CLC’s Roadmap to Recovery continue to gain pace. At a micro level, there is a wealth of employers who contribute to their local communities in lots of other ways. Together, this means there is a lot for businesses to consider, while also trying to operate at a profit in a sector that is already dogged by other challenges, like the lasting impact of the pandemic and Brexit, and escalating health and safety issues.
However, such is the importance of sustainability, that any business which doesn’t make clear its stance on the matter immediately risks losing an element of competitiveness; green credentials have become currency, described as a key differentiator by executives working at 59% of businesses in construction. The good news is that there is a wealth of support available from within the industry and from government to help businesses put sustainability top of the agenda.