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Why Sustainability is Important in the Construction Industry

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

It is common knowledge that the construction industry consumes a massive amount of natural resources. With growing concerns over climate change, worries about the depletion of natural resources and alarming rates of environment pollution, the construction industry moves into the era where they need to reduce, if not minimise, their negative impact on the environment, and look for an alternative source of energy to protect the Earth. What construction industry players must realise is the fact that not only does abusing and depleting limited natural resources can bring a bad reputation and cause controversy to for the business, but it also predicts an inevitable future of tall grey soulless buildings surrounded by a grey mist made of construction dust without greenery or even humans we living creatures would have been wiped out due to the severely polluted environment.

Like making any other changes, moving towards a sustainable construction method poses new challenges and obstacles but brings significant benefits as well. First of all, what is sustainability in the construction industry? Sustainability in construction means the use of infinite resources of energy, the use of renewable and recyclable materials, the cutback of energy consumption, and the reduction of waste, in which the goal is to reduce the industry’s negative impact on nature, protect the environment and contribute to the fight to stop climate change. It is also important to note that sustainability in construction is not limited to the process of erecting a building, but operation of the building itself is also required to be eco-friendly throughout its entire lifespan. An example of this is the use of solar panels or windmill to power electricity usage and decrease energy consumption.

The mere definition of this concept has outlined how important the shift to sustainable construction is. However, a closer look into how the construction industry has proven harmful to the environment, albeit ugly, needs to be shed lights on. According to British Assessment Bureau, aside from the potential that structures are built over wild habitats and directly destroy the homes to much fauna and flora, the energy used to perform these actions is also extremely high. The heavy machinery used for construction is still dependant on fossil fuels, which are a limited and depleting resource. An alarming figure from International Energy Agency shows that the construction industry accounts for 36% of worldwide total energy usage and 40% of carbon dioxide emissions. To be more specific, in the case of concrete manufacturing, over 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere each year. A report by Supply Chain Sustainability School also claims that the construction industry uses 25-40% of worldwide energy in total, 30% of raw materials, 30-40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 30-40% of solid waste generation. On another note, the industrial waste of the construction industry can be hazardous to all living creatures in the surrounding areas, including the health of humans as well.

One might argue that sustainable construction is expensive and not cost-effective. This is a rather popular belief, or myth to be precise, amongst the public. Nevertheless, The World Green Building Council’s 2018 Report has provided valid evidence and proof that owners of eco-friendly buildings report that money is saved thanks to sustainable materials used. For instance, solar panels, while reduce energy usage, also reduce the cost of the household’s electricity bills.

While the process of moving towards sustainable construction is a long way to go with new challenges, it is certainly worth the effort as it is beneficial for both the firm working in the industry and the planet we live on. Several construction companies, along with several policies issued by the governments of multiple countries in the world, are supporting and encouraging sustainable construction with a view to a greener future where climate change is slowed down and pollution level is lowered.

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