Sustainability consists of avoiding an accelerated depletion of natural resources and thus maintaining the ecological balance, and that is what most companies and industries mean when they talk about sustainability. The construction industry is not fully prepared to carry out sustainable actions. Many of the resources used in one building cannot be reused in another, in addition, buildings can reduce air quality, but it is also true that with the growing population there is a greater need for buildings. So, how is a construction made sustainable?

Reduce, Reuse?

Sustainable construction ensures that resources are used efficiently in our projects, and also takes into account the environmental impacts when obtaining the materials and processes that we use to carry out the work. It means that we must understand the projects, not only in relation to the final result and the benefit to the business, but also in terms of the impact on the environment, the community and the world. Because of this it is so important that the constructions are sustainable, since it affects everyone and not only the creation of the building. From steel manufacturing plants, sawmills and the workplace, there are areas for improvement.

Sustainable property with solar energy

What is Sustainable Construction?

There is a simple way to understand sustainable construction is to determine who are the parties that are part of a given project. If your company is contracted to build a building, the client, your company and the local government that regulates the construction in that area are all interested parties that will influence the process and the results of the project. However, if we want a project to be sustainable, there are other entities involved that should be considered.

To start a sustainable construction, first we have to think about the community, because if we build using a process that we know generates a lot of toxic waste, we must consider where and how we are going to get rid of them. The people who live there could be affected, so we must consider these people as important stakeholders, and find a way to build that recognizes them.

Second, we need to think about the environment. If our methodologies use excessive amounts of non-renewable energy sources or produce a lot of waste, we may be hurting the environment. If we want to preserve nature, the main thing is to use methodologies that promote that, or that we compensate in other ways the damage we are doing by creating a benefit in some other way. In sustainable construction there are more stakeholders at stake than only those who put money into the project.

The Role of Construction Firms in Sustainable Construction

It is clear that it is a business and that it is necessary to show a benefit. But you should keep in mind that you can have great benefits of investing in sustainable technologies when it comes to construction. The current industry standard for sustainable construction is LEED certified construction. Leading in construction with standards in energy and environmental design has been the goal of construction since 1994 when they began to promote a sustainable construction system. This system goes beyond minimum building codes to ensure that new buildings doesn't only work, but also are sustainable for the future, efficient in the use of energy and manufactured with materials from responsible sources.

Builders who invest in the latest sustainable technologies manage to recover these costs over time by reducing costs as a result of greater energy efficiency of sustainable buildings. Today's construction companies need to recognize that sustainable construction is a growing concern. According to statistics it is estimated that buildings in a country consume 40% of the energy consumed there annually. The construction manages to save enormous amounts of energy and efficiency as more and more companies acquire the importance of sustainable construction.

The Role of Government in Sustainable Construction

Regulators play an important role in the sustainable construction sector as they provide the right incentives for companies that request them to build sustainable constructions. Companies that do it on their own should be praised, and also people have the opportunity to invest in companies that adhere to the principles of sustainability in the projects. But the awareness of the government is very important, so that it legislates and creates mandates for companies to develop in a sustainable manner.

Construction companies to invest in creating a more sustainable infrastructure and create a net benefit for all stakeholders, including the community and the environment

Currently, several states offer tax incentives or exemptions for construction companies that carry out sustainable projects. As an example, in Nevada, building materials certified through LEED as sustainable, for buildings, can be purchased with a tax exemption. Another case is that of Cincinnati, Ohio, where property tax exemptions are offered to newly constructed buildings that meet the minimum requirements of LEED. These exemptions allow construction companies to invest in creating a more sustainable infrastructure and create a net benefit for all stakeholders, including the community and the environment.

Sustainability and Green Construction

The ecological construction goes one step beyond sustainability, since its main objective is to minimize the environmental impact throughout the process and, in some cases, how we can compensate for the impact we have. Ecological construction sets a high standard in terms of sustainability, with the use of sustainable materials and construction methods that are carbon neutral or that involve renewable energy sources now and in the future.

New Innovations

LEED building is not the only sustainable construction that can be given. Thanks to recent advances in construction that help reduce the amount of materials used and, hopefully, improve sustainability in construction. These and other advances make it easier for construction companies to improve the sustainability of the projects they carry out.

Prefabrication

The prefabrication in the construction is promoted as ecological, and this consists of the manufacturing process of units inside a factory and not in the place of construction. Therefore, a prefabrication factory can manufacture many of the necessary elements and send them to the place where the assembly will take place. The great benefit is that the units are manufactured without discarding any excess. Instead, it can be recycled and reused, it also allows for more precise construction, so there is less material that is wasted.

Building Information Modeling

Technology around the design and creation of information models, or BIM, can revolutionize the way we build. This technique is becoming increasingly accurate and can help with the necessary calculations of material and time. This will drastically reduce the excess construction materials that companies buy. The information that construction companies can obtain from these models will improve the way they build in general and how they lead to better construction practices, as well as more efficient in the resources used. Because physical resources are not the only ones used in building construction, so are resources such as gas and electricity, which can be saved through more efficient construction processes.

Key Takeaways

Sustainability will become more important every year, since the effects of climate change are seen throughout the world. Whether it is difficult to obtain a specific material or to make changes in the prices of rare materials, it is important that companies look for different ways to build buildings in a sustainable manner. Due to the changes that the government is currently carrying out in the United States, climate change scientists fear that the benefits associated with sustainable construction may not be as important due to the emphasis that is being placed on economic benefits. It is more important than ever for state governments take measures to encourage sustainability in construction, and for companies to seek growth and profit in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.