Whether due to regulatory drivers introduced by the Government, or private sector sustainability management schemes, the construction industry is starting to make inroads to reduce the amount of waste it produces. But there is still plenty of room for improvement and many cases it is up to those on the front line (i.e. those in management) to implement more sustainable practices.
Here are three ways to further minimise the amount of construction waste going to landfill.
- Recycling construction waste
Some construction waste disposal companies are now operating extensive recycling operations. They also offer advice on how to improve recycling for individual projects. In New Zealand, for example, treated timber can be chipped to replace coal use at a cement works. Untreated timber is chipped for landscaping and children’s playgrounds. Plasterboard is separated into paper for recycling and gypsum, which is sold for use in fertilisers, compost and cement.
However, if the resulting goods aren’t valuable and readily usable, we simply embed more carbon into the product.
It’s therefore vital to extend the life of all construction materials wherever possible.
- Extending the life of construction materials
With the rising cost of construction materials, contractors and building owners around the world are starting to view existing buildings as a raw materials ‘bank.’ The historic, destructive approach to demolition is shifting to a deconstructive approach. It’s about strategically dismantling buildings to reuse and repurpose durable materials. The goal is to extend their lifespan and reduce costs.
Reusing and upcycling building components can also be a valuable selling point for companies. Owners and tenants have placed a premium on using features of the original building for some time now, as well as reusing items from other buildings that have been recovered.
There is a growing opportunity to extend this client-driven value to more hidden components.
But recycling isn’t the only way to reduce costs and improve the sustainability of your project.
- Moving to off-site construction
Prefabricated or modular construction is another way to reduce costs and improve sustainability.
A controlled factory environment can significantly reduce overage and waste. Tolerances are more precise, reducing the labour cost and waste associated with re-work. Prefabrication reduces much of the on-site activity to simply assembling components. The time taken to complete the project, labour costs, and energy use can all be concentrated and reduced. With appropriate design, modular construction can also streamline deconstruction and material reuse at the end-of-life stage.
The three examples above are fantastic initiatives that illustrate what can be done when it comes to respecting and understanding the value of increasing sustainability practices in construction.
And Envirocon is proud to take these three methods of construction sustainability one step further by combining them in their innovative construction products.
- By diverting excess wet pour concrete for the manufacture of their interlocking blocks, they recycle construction waste that would otherwise go to landfill, without embedding any additional carbon.
- The blocks are manufactured off-site which reduces costs, excess materials and energy used in manufacturing.
- Lastly, Envirocon’s Buyback Guarantee means unwanted blocks can be sold back to Envirocon for use by another project – effectively extending the life of the material.
Envirocon encourages others to think along similar lines because continuing to build on these various schemes will require dedication and perseverance from those in the industry, alongside a sense of duty to undo decades of harm that the environment has been subjected to by construction.