Is your company eco friendly? Have you ever considered changing your business for more sustainable? Reducing carbon footprint does not have to mean huge investments and radical changes. Check out our article and learn about 5 easy ways to make your company greener!
Before we start talking about reducing carbon footprint, let’s establish what it is first. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.The average carbon footprint per person in the UK, per year, is 12.7 tonnes CO2e. . Globally, the average is closer to 4 tons. Why is this data crucial? Well, if we want to avoid a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop under 2 tons by 2050!
Lowering carbon footprints is not going to happen overnight though. We need to implement small changes to our actions day by day that matter, to make a big difference in the long run.
You probably have seen some news on the Internet about sustainable development. It is no wonder these topics are gaining popularity, as people are starting to live more eco-friendly, and governments feel a pressure to reduce negative changes in the environment. These matters are also current for the construction industry, responsible for 40% of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. So, what are the real actions that your company can take to help the environment?
When we hear "reduce carbon footprint in construction", we often think big: restructuring the whole company or invest in high-end machines and technology. Sure, you can do that if your company has vast savings and free time for tests and implementation. However, we believe that small changes done now are better than a perfect plan waiting forever to be implemented. Here are few, relatively easy to implement tips that will make your company a little bit greener
Have you ever heard about 4R? According to the less waste approach, you should always think if something can be reduced, refuse, reuse and recycle. This method applies perfectly also for construction companies:
Look at your assets. Is the working time of your machines optimized? Sometimes, even when there is no need, devices are unnecessarily turned on. This uses a lot of energy (and money), while it can be easily saved.
At the end of the project, you are often left with unused materials. Before you classify them as garbage, consider them as excellent sources for future investments! If you are already using this, maybe you should consider trying recycled materials. They do not differ in quality but may have a better price.
Cheap solutions are tempting. After all, we do not have to pay much for something that works. Well, until it needs to be replaced. Consider what solutions you use. Are they designed to serve well for years or their most significant advantage is a price? In the long term, more beneficial for the environment and our wallets is a more expensive but more durable solution. Same goes for investing in software! Is your system able to grow with your company? Will it fit your needs well enough in a few months/years? It’s good to keep in mind the differences between tailor-made solution vs off the shelf software - one will grow with you, the other may be cheaper at first, but will force you to change it again and again when your business’s requirements change.
Recycling and reducing building components, such as virgin steel, can lead to a 3% reduction of GHG emissions between 2017 and 2050!
Sometimes it is impossible to work entirely in a zero-waste way. Especially when most deliveries are packed with huge amounts of plastic. However, we still can do something and recycle as much as we can. It really makes a change!
We should stop considering water as a never-ending source. There are many incredible saving water initiatives and best-practises that we must consider to address not only water conservation issues but also pollution! Surface runoff from construction sites can contain common pollutants like oil and fuel from vehicles, paints and solvents or harmful dust and debris which sinks into the earth. It has a potential to contaminate water supplies used by humans or animals and has a horrible effect on the environment! What can you do to avoid it?
Scheduling is your best friend
Proper scheduling that allows you to plan your projects stages efficiently will help you limit potential surface runoff at any time.
Take surrounding environment into account
If you plan your site near a watercourse make sure to include an adequate space between them, so that contaminated materials won’t penetrate the water supply.
Execute quality checks regularly
Leaking pipes, or toilets are among the worst offenders for water waste.Checking them on a regular basis allows you to identify any leaks before they burst.
Switch to water efficient toilets
A change to high-efficiency toilets alone, reduces toilet water use by over 50%! You can install dual-flush toilets and motion-sensor urinals to address this issue.
Switching to timber use in construction could cut GHG emissions by 6% between 2017 and 2050
Timber construction’s popularity is growing every year, and there’s a good reason for it! It’s a way to reduce materials emissions and utilize local and sustainably managed forests. We can already admire great projects like Stadthaus in Hackney; the nine-storey residential tower building constructed entirely in timber! And there are more projects that prove mass timber is here to stay, hopefully more companies will follow the lead.
Another important question that we should ask ourselves: do you know where your materials come from or how they are done? It is a crucial matter, as production and transportation processes have a significant impact on carbon footprint. EPD (Environmental Product Declarations) is one of the sites where you can check your materials' life-cycle environmental impact!
This method allows us to develop parts of the project away from the construction site and put them together at the final stage. Offsite construction and offsite manufacturing can be a great eco-friendly solution! According to the researchers, this new construction method can cut waste from timber formwork and concrete works by 74–87% and limit energy usage on-site by 80%, so why not give it a try?
Low carbon cement
Using low-carbon alternatives to traditional cement could cut GHG emissions by 6% between 2017 and 2050.
Concrete is one of the most carbon-intensive construction materials since the production requires extreme heat and releases a lot of CO2. Low-carbon cement is a possible alternative that will help us reduce carbon footprint in construction and combat climate change.
Take your company to the next level by utilizing new technologies! Although we do not advise you to change all your processes, tools or machines at once, it is worth considering supporting your daily work with sustainable technologies. For example, 3D printers that can be used with various materials (ex. cement, metal, nylon), at the same time producing fewer leftovers and lowering carbon footprint! The future of construction is closely connected to innovation and modern solutions!
As you can see, there are many small steps, thanks to which your company can reduce its carbon footprint. Who knows, maybe your company has already applied some of them? The most important thing is to be open and eager for innovations. This will already be a first significant step towards a greener future of construction!
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