Hub Industry insights Is there a greener future for construction?

Is there a greener future for construction?

The construction industry has made strides in its desire to be friendlier to the environment, but how far can it go to be greener in the future?

The construction industry is considered to be one of the world’s largest consumers of raw materials. Globally, 36% of total energy consumption can be attributed to construction.

So, it’s no wonder that the industry’s goal of sustainability seems like a far-fetched idea when the current numbers suggest otherwise—but change is on the way.

The rise of sustainable construction in recent years has brought with it a myriad of advancements: greener vehicles, recycled materials and changes to renewable energy sources. 

When it comes to meeting sustainable goals, however, there is still a lingering feeling that more can be done, and while a greener future is on the horizon, the industry will have to adapt quickly to keep up with growing demand.

What is sustainable construction?

Sustainable construction refers to the practice of designing and constructing buildings in a way that reduces their impact on the environment. In short, it means using renewable materials and greener methods to reduce both energy consumption and wastage. 

But unfortunately, in reality, it’s not so easily defined – what it truly means to be sustainable tends to vary depending on who you ask in the industry. Whether that’s focusing on improving the supply chain, ensuring labour standards are met, or rethinking materials and design practices, it’s safe to say there is no shortage of proposed solutions. 

As an organisation in the construction space, we’re more than aware of our responsibility: to be able to meet the needs of people today without compromising the needs of future generations. Every year, new initiatives to reduce our environmental impact come about so it’s important to not only comply with legislation but to innovate and adapt to change as it happens.

How has construction evolved to be greener

The demand for greener construction has grown significantly as the devastating effects of climate change and global warming have risen to the forefront. With record-high temperatures recorded more and more regularly, and an exponential increase in carbon dioxide levels from human activities, change has to happen before it’s too late.

In order to minimise the industry’s impact, construction firms have now shifted priorities to implementing more environmentally friendly practices. While this has its own green advantages, there are other secondary benefits too: reduced costs, an increase in asset value and a competitive edge against others.

With the government rolling out higher sustainability targets, such as reducing energy intensity per square metre in buildings by 2030, there is also growing pressure on companies to meet increased regulations through these greener solutions.

And it’s not just decision-makers who are actively seeking solutions. Every day consumers are increasingly more environmentally conscious about their carbon footprint and their expectations of companies responding to the crisis.

So, what does sustainable construction look like in practice? 

Sustainable building materials

In one year alone, concrete production created over 2.8 billion tonnes of CO₂. With numbers set to rise even higher alongside global demand, companies are looking for new alternatives. This has led to the growing trend of building with sustainable recycled or reclaimed materials. 

These materials are sourced from properties that have been demolished, producing plastic, wood, tiles, bricks and other useful building blocks. Not only are these materials greener and more sustainable as the energy used to make them has already been accounted for, but reclaimed materials are also often more cost-effective than opting for brand new materials. 

With these eco-friendly replacements ready and available to use, how much construction work implements these alternatives at the moment? 

Current estimates from Salvo show that only 1% of building materials are from reclaimed sources. That means there’s a huge untapped opportunity to increase usage across new and upcoming building designs. 

Efficient and considered planning

It’s not just about what you use – it’s also about what you didn’t use. 

Waste management is an important aspect of sustainable construction that can’t be overlooked in the design and planning stages. Every year, building and construction works account for up to 40% of solid waste generation. By maximising material usage, companies are able to cut down on unnecessary waste, while improving resource efficiency.

Although an intangible part of the process, inefficient time planning is often one of the biggest barriers to sustainability. Time lost due to poor systems integrations, understanding of building regulations, and more can all impact how efficiently a project is completed.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of a project or find out where you can plan better, so how do you know where to begin? If you need a helping hand with planning and delivering effective, efficient, and sustainable building solutions, our in-house experts are ready to collaborate through our design-and-build contract services.

Sustainable Technology

Sustainable materials and technology go hand in hand. One of the most effective ways construction businesses are reducing their carbon footprint is through adopting greener renewable energy solutions. From installing wind turbines to energy-effcient heating, there are several renewable solutions to support the scale and scope of your project’s needs.

Solar panels, in particular, have emerged as a popular energy-efficient choice for businesses. Amidst rising bills and energy costs, installing solar panels can dramatically reduce costs and dependence on national suppliers at the same time. 

Typically each panel generates around 200-350W of energy in strong sunlight. By creating on-site renewable energy, this can serve as a fully rechargeable battery solution allowing firms to power site vehicles and electric power tools.

Greener vehicles 

Another factor of sustainable construction to consider is the use of vehicles such as vans and cars. The transport of materials and construction vehicles on-site amounts to a staggering 1.1% of total CO₂ emissions. By switching to greener fuel alternatives such as hydrogen, construction firms are on the way to limiting the impact of emissions on the environment.

As well as the vehicles themselves, it also pays to think about logistics. Planning ahead with schedules that optimise delivery times and capacities can also significantly reduce mileage. Whether that’s the difference of one delivery trip versus two – over the course of a year, every extra mile adds up, and even a small change can have a huge impact on your total annual emissions. 

Why is environmentally conscious construction important?

As a major contributor to the global consumption of materials and energy, it’s clear that construction has a key part to play in moving toward a greener future. With government pressure, profitable prospects of cost-cutting and social responsibility expectations continuing to build, the demand to adapt to new solutions will only increase with 3D printing, green roofs and net zero energy buildings set to be the future trends of construction. 

There’s still a long way to go until construction can be considered fully sustainable by reaching net-zero goals. But, there is good news.

In the last few years, the industry has taken huge steps to become more environmentally conscious – and many sustainable techniques are in use already. From reclaimed materials and renewable technology to clear considered planning, we have the means to be greener. 

Now is the time to take action and be part of the solution towards sustainability.

Arrange your project with DPL Group

Looking to implement greener technology or review your current building practices? 

At DPL, we partner with major constructors in the commercial, educational and industrial sectors to deliver high-quality work. We’ll work with you to understand the challenges and opportunities within your project and provide an integrated view of your building services.

If you have any other questions about sustainable construction or would like to kickstart your own project, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team.

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Get in touch to speak to an expert about your service or sector needs or email us at, call us on 01473 253 350 or simply complete the contact form opposite. One of our specialists will be back in touch shortly.

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