Sustainability and ESG

Sustainable Construction Methods [What You Need to Know]

Avetta Marketing
min read

The topic of sustainability in the construction industry has garnered a great deal of attention lately, and for good reason. The impact that construction makes on the world is huge, both for good and for bad.

Some of the positive effects of construction are that it:

  • Provides homes and businesses for people
  • Connects the world via roads and bridges
  • Preserves and redirects water for drinking and growing crops
  • Provides millions of jobs
  • Contributes trillions of dollars to the global economy

While the positive impact of these effects cannot be overstated, the construction industry also has a significant negative environmental impact which can’t be denied. This includes:

  • Significant changes to the natural landscape
  • Heavy pollution of water
  • Large quantities of CO2 emissions
  • Consumption of half of all natural resources

To help tip the scale between the positive and negative impacts, the construction industry has a responsibility to implement sustainable construction materials and technology, as well as to adhere to internationally recognized sustainability standards.

Below you’ll find some important information about these topics, but first let's review some of the major environmental and business benefits that sustainable construction practices can bring.

Benefits of Sustainable Construction

While some benefits of sustainable construction become apparent immediately, oftentimes it can take many years for them to be realized. Even then, the effort is well worth it and should not deter the industry from bettering its practices.

Here are just a few of the many benefits of sustainable construction that both the environment and your business can expect.

Environmental Benefits of Sustainable Construction Practices

Environmental Benefits of Sustainable Construction Practices

Since we only have one earth, its environment is of utmost importance and should be at the forefront of our focus.

Sustainable construction practices allow for:

  • Using fewer resources (such as water and energy) to complete projects
  • Improving outdoor air quality
  • Minimizing waste
  • Collecting and preserving natural energy
  • Decreasing noise pollution
  • Increasing the quality of life

Business Benefits of Sustainable Construction Practices

Fortunately, you don’t need to give up profits for environmental improvement.

Sustainable construction practices sustain your bottom line by:

  • Using fewer resources (such as water and energy) in buildings and on site
  • Increasing property value
  • Helping employees increase their presence, productivity, and performance
  • Allowing for development and implementation of innovative techniques and materials
  • Unlocking new and evolving markets

How to Achieve Sustainability

To gain maximum benefits, you’ll want to find a way to achieve sustainability. When you look at using more sustainable construction materials and technologies in your projects or in your offices, realize that the return will be worth the investment.    

Types of Sustainable Construction Materials

When it comes to waste and pollutants, construction materials hold a lot of blame. According to Transparency Market Research, worldwide construction waste will equal 2.2 billion tons per year by 2025. A quick solution to this overarching problem lies with concrete alternatives, as concrete accounts for about half of the waste.

Eight eco-friendly concrete alternatives include:

  1. Green concrete
  2. Ashcrete
  3. Blast furnace slag
  4. Micro silica
  5. Composite cement
  6. Papercrete
  7. Concrete debris
  8. Aggregate alternatives (waste plastic, post-consumer glass, etc.)

Other types of sustainable construction materials include interior finishings and furnishings that don’t require the use of heavily impactful productions or products.

Some of the most widely used and accepted eco-friendly building components include those made of:

  • Bamboo
  • Cork
  • Reclaimed wood and metal
  • Sheep’s wool

Using Sustainable Construction Technology to Decrease Your Risks

In addition to using better products, implementing sustainable construction technology can make a big, positive impact on how things have been traditionally done in the construction industry.

For example, gathering data regarding the industry’s sustainability commitments can help you make better business decisions. By vetting suppliers and other partners, you can work with contractors and vendors who share your same passion for environmental accountability. This practice allows you to better evaluate risks and monitor for compliance. Supply chain sustainability can be managed by ensuring qualification and sustainability metrics throughout the entire supply chain.

GCCA: Sustainability Standards and Why They Matter

The Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) is a trusted and authoritative platform in the industry. The association and its members are committed to promoting sustainability, innovation, and leadership that contribute to global challenges. Additionally, they gather and publish data that records the industry’s sustainability commitments.

Sustainability Standards and Guidelines

The GCCA has identified sustainability standards that its members must implement and perform against to achieve compliance.

Their guidelines cover the five following topics to which members are committed:

  1. Monitoring KPIs aimed at helping improve the safety culture, striving “to achieve zero harm for employees, contractors, and everyone that comes in contact with its business.”
  2. Reducing CO2 emissions and improving their carbon footprint.
  3. Using alternative fuels and raw materials in a responsible way “where technically, environmentally, and economically viable.”
  4. Monitoring, reporting, and promoting credible, practical, and relevant emissions information.
  5. Implementing “a comprehensive water management strategy, which can both mitigate water scarcity risks and provide benefits for local stakeholder relations.”
Why Standards and Guidelines Matter in Supply Chain Risk Management

Why the Standards and Guidelines Matter

The reasons why sustainability standards and guidelines matter in the construction industry is that “sustainability” is a very common word, yet quite misunderstood. There are many different interpretations that tend to treat its meaning superficially.

There is a lot of rhetoric surrounding the terms “eco” and “green.” However, to take the subject matter earnestly requires long-term endurance, critical development, and fostered equity across:

  • The design and management of built structures
  • The performance of materials
  • The use of renewable energy resources
  • The transition to a circular economy
  • The innovation of financing models
  • The reinvestment of returns for collective benefit
  • The adherence to the highest ethical standards and practices
  • The promotion of viable life/work environments
  • The democratization of all processes

Building a sustainable future involves positively impacting the environment, the economy, and society. The LafargeHolcim Foundation has asserted that “long-term development of the built environment requires a mutually-reinforcing interplay of responsible economic, ecological, and social agendas.

For this reason, the foundation’s “target issues” are the five Ps:

  1. Progress (innovation and transferability)
  2. People (ethical standards and social inclusion)
  3. Planet (resource and environmental performance)
  4. Prosperity (economic viability and compatibility)
  5. Place (contextual and aesthetic impact)

Besides helping the natural environment and its surrounding communities, you’ll also be bolstering your reputation by demonstrating your environmental, economic, and social responsibility. Since the construction industry is capable (and guilty) of contributing to the conversation surrounding sustainability, it's imperative that actions are taken now to meet the standards. Learn more about Avetta's commitment to sustainability.

Contractor Compliance
Contractor Management
Contractor Prequalification
Contractor Safety
Health and Safety
Risk Management
Supply Chain Risk
Supply Chain Management
Worker Compliance
Workforce Management