Innovative Ways of Working for the Future of Construction
With the issue of climate change hitting the headlines on a regular basis, both here in the UK and around the world, sustainability has become the new buzzword, not just in construction, but in every sector. Dwindling resources place pressure on all industries to balance short-term demands with long-term prosperity by adopting new technologies and innovative approaches in order to increase sustainability to meet our commitments to make the changes that are necessary to protect our environment for future generations. The three main areas that offer the most potential when it comes to sustainable work practices are as follows:
BIM - the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) launched some new global standards in January of this year for Building Information Modelling (BIM). BIM has a key role to play in the construction industry when it comes to delivering sustainable and efficient projects for the future. The ability to virtually design project plans enables designers to identify and correct any flaws and issues before the construction project actually begins, saving time, materials and money in the long term. BIM also enables all stakeholders in a project to share designs and updates in real time via smartphone, tablet or desktop PC, ensuring that everybody is kept up to date with real time information, reducing confusion and increasing efficiency. This helps to reduce both project delivery time and reduce waste, which not only decreases overall project costs, but increases the sustainability of the project.
Modular – when considering modular construction methods, the transport costs and emissions must be taken into account to meet sustainability goals. However, the ability to produce units off-site and install them in place helps to overcome some of the logistical problems associated with site constraints. It’s also the case that modular building techniques decreases the need for work at height and the use of access equipment that may present risks for workers, especially when not used correctly. According to research, modular construction also dramatically reduces the amount of waste (by up to 90% in some cases), and decreases the impact on the building site’s surrounding environment.
New Materials – like other industries, the construction sector needs to commit to the drive to find biodegradable, environmentally-friendly materials, like Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), carbon absorbing concrete, bamboo, compressed earth blocks, etc. There is also a long way to go when it comes to increasing both supply and demand of recycled building materials, whether this is timber, steel or other wastes, which will help to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of projects on several levels.
Renewable Energy – the construction sector has a major role to play in encouraging the adoption of renewable energy. There are several ways in which this can be achieve, including:
- Designing building that maximise renewable resources
- Standardising the fitting systems for a variety of roof types so that solar energy is a viable and accessible option for more domestic and commercial premises
- Participating in sustainability research to ensure that all types of renewable energy solutions offer a real and practical solution for the future.