There is a growing call for the UK construction trade to operate more sustainably. Easier in some industries than others, one of the trickiest sectors is the construction industry. From harvesting raw materials, transport, manufacturing, to the actual construction of buildings, construction has a significant impact on the environment.
How can we make the UK construction more sustainable?
- Streamline supply chains to reduce transportation costs
- Minimise waste and recycle leftover items
- Choose durable and quality building components that can last for the appropriate refurbishment or project
- Use construction materials that are locally available, in turn reducing transport costs further
- Select appropriate construction methods – prefabrication, wood or concrete structures
- Reuse existing buildings or structures to reduce construction waste. Strengthening and rehabilitating buildings can also save construction costs
- Make site waste management plans not only during construction but also during use or operation.
One of the biggest issues is construction waste. A construction site should try to avoid producing construction waste as much as possible. And you should constantly be on the lookout for ways to reuse construction waste in other projects. Any waste that cannot be reused should be disposed of in a responsible way.
The use of sustainable building materials is an easy way to achieve sustainability. Building materials such as sand and gravel have been used for thousands of years in construction. The demand for these is increasing in line with the demand for sustainable infrastructure development is increasing.
Wood is one of the most popular and versatile materials used in sustainable construction. A durable material that adds a natural flair to buildings, it is second only to stone in terms of its rich and storied history in the world of construction. While wood has long been considered an environmentally friendly resource, more and more focus is being placed on the sustainable qualities of wood products.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of using wood as a building material is that it is a natural resource, making it readily available and economically feasible. It is remarkably strong in relation to its weight, and it provides good insulation from the cold. Wood can be fabricated into all kinds of shapes and sizes to fit practically any construction need.
A perfect example of an environmentally sustainable product, wood is biodegradable and renewable, and carries the lowest carbon footprint of any comparable building material.
Apart from anything else, wood has the best thermal insulation properties of any mainstream construction material. Containing highly-sought-after acoustic properties, wood can absorb sound and echoes, and is a favourite material of choice for the construction of structures where proper acoustics is important, such as concert halls.
Sustainability in construction is a complex issue, but the use of wood could be both an effective short-term solution and a dependable long-term solution.
Alex Dalton is managing director of woodworking machinery specialist Daltons Wadkin.