The climate emergency is at the centre of global news as COP28 kicks off this week. The United Nations’ international climate summit is where almost every country in the world comes together to make decisions and pledges that will theoretically help to save our planet from the worst of the damage we have inflicted on it to date.
While it is unclear what the result will be, and even whether it will be worthwhile at all, we can look to use this opportunity to assess our own contributions to the climate emergency and whether we are doing enough.
Part of the COP28 process is known as the Global Stocktake. This is the first ever process to take into account everything that is being done and compare it to where we need to be. We know we are not on track to limit global warming to 1.5c, but the stocktake will give us a good idea of how we can meet the next set of goals.
The construction industry is one of the biggest polluters thanks to the fact that buildings are everywhere. Material extraction, waste, carbon emitting processes and more all contribute to construction being a major global emitter.
What can architects, main contractors and developers do as they take stock of their environmental footprint?
Choose products that minimise waste on site
Construction produces a huge amount of waste. In the UK alone it is estimated that the sector produces more than 60% of our total landfill waste. A big part of that is thanks to overordering and choosing materials which are susceptible to damage.
It is also important to choose materials that can be reused in situ both during the initial construction and later down the line if layouts are changed or the building is repurposed.
Calculate your BREEAM points effectively
As sustainability in the built environment continues to rise up the priority list for architects, developers, specifiers and everyone else in the sector, the environmental performance of the products used in construction are coming under the microscope more and more.
Choosing products which have undergone full lifecycle assessments to prove they are sustainable in the present and future is a great way to impact your BREEAM Assessment score. In a time when sustainability is more important than ever, buildings with good BREEAM ratings are more attractive to both investors and occupiers, making sustainability a key plank of any commercial strategy.
Make sure you are up to date with changing legal requirements
The old ways of doing things are slowly but surely being confined to the past. Newer, more sustainable standards are now being developed. For example, the latest requirements in the residential sector for Part L of the Building Regulations and the Future Home Standard.
You may not think these affect you if you are not in residential property, but the reality is that you need to take them into account as higher standards in one sector will inevitably lead to a raising of the bar across the board.
Review all your processes
Sustainability is not just a checklist of a few things. It is a method of thinking that will redefine all of your processes, buying methodologies and building designs. It requires an operational shift, but embracing it gives you access to many benefits and advantages that traditional construction cannot give you.
Choosing the right construction products for your buildings – rather than automatically selecting flawed systems that you are familiar with – can play a big role in this. For example, Specwall is designed with sustainability at the forefront but it also provides many benefits beyond that which touch on all areas of design and construction.
COP28 is the big headline grabbing event, but the work of fighting the climate emergency will be done closer to home. Decisions made by individuals and companies every day will be what allows us to successfully save our climate and society from the damage that climate change promises to inflict.
Want to learn more about Specwall and sustainable construction? Click here today to get in touch with the team.