The environment is the sum total of all living and nonliving elements that surround and influence the earth. We are constantly enveloped by the earth’s environment and we not only influence it but can be influenced by it as well. This means the environment is something we are always surrounded by no matter where we go. In this blog, we are going to discuss the role of sustainability in the building and construction industry and how to design and build environmentally friendly structures.
Considering environment’s existence is quite encompassing, its importance to our existence cannot be understated. Human health and wellbeing is directly linked to the state of the environment. On a very basic level, the environment includes sun, water, air and soil – without these elements, human life would not exist. The sun offers health benefits and weather regulation for different cycles. Water is important not only to consumption but greenery, growth, habitats etc. Soil is important for the growth of crops, plants and trees, the existence of which has an impact on the environment.
These elements work in tandem to ensure the earth is as habitable as possible. When even one is faltering, the environment is affected significantly.
As humans have inhabited this earth for a long time, this has presented some pitfalls. Yes, humankind has developed and created things far beyond the expectations of each generation before. We built structures, modes of transportation. Tapped into different sources of power like electricity and oil. The advancement of the human race has been unprecedented.
But with all this innovation, there has been a trail of unintended consequences. The degradation of natural habitats has increased at an rising rate, which also has led to reducing numbers of particular species. The climate has undergone changes because of the sheer amount of industrial production. Pollution is rife and has affected the quality of life for all living organisms.
Because of instances like these, the term “sustainability” is frequently used. The word is used like a broken record, and for good reason.
Sustainability involves meeting the needs of the present without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is encompassed by ideals such as environmental health and safety, social equity and economic vitality. It is a responsibility for people to ensure they understand principles of sustainability as it becomes more and more of a focus as time goes on.
Sustainability is not only a generalised concept, but also seen more specifically in industries. For instance, agriculture, commerce and accommodation all place heavy importance on meeting certain sustainable objectives in order to adhere to societal expectations.
One industry of importance is the building and construction industry. Being one of the largest in Australia, the construction industry has clear ties to Australia’s economic prosperity. Because the industry makes such a difference in how Australia performs as a nation, there are other things it must do to maintain this. One of these things is to engage in sustainability. The outcomes construction provides directly feeds into how well the country implements sustainability. Think about it: the purpose of the construction industry is to build structures of differing needs such as buildings, roads, and hospitals, all the way to homes, pipelines and the like. The inputs used in a project can affect sustainability in one way or another.
Thus, in this blog we delve into the role of sustainability in the building and construction industry. Additionally, as a by-product of this, we look at ways in which environmentally friendly structures can be built.
When it comes to sustainability, there are checklists that need to be filled to meet required standards. For instance, some of the bigger considerations are environmental friendliness and reductions in energy consumption. And why would this be the case? The answer is simple. Construction has the power to make meaningful changes in how sustainability is used and maintained.
The concept of sustainability arose mainly due to industrialisation of mankind, which came about in part because of advancements in methods of building and construction. The industry has a responsibility to implement sustainable practices to ensure it does not degrade the ongoings of society.
By nature, the construction industry is a large user of natural resources. Think about the materials that go into the construction of a building. Wood, steel and cement are some of the common things you might imagine. But these things were derived from the earth’s natural resources. They did not just come complete, or spawn from nothing.
Now think about cities across the globe, and how much construction work has been done over centuries and millennia. This will make you realise construction’s impact on the environment. How many natural resources have been plunged in order to further the advancement of society at large?
This is why sustainability is so important within the construction industry. It’s not as if construction will stop, or reduce at a decreasing rate. In fact, construction is more likely to keep increasing as the population of the earth keeps rising. If sustainability were not an important factor considered in construction, who knows where earth would be in the future. But by adopting principles of sustainability, the construction industry can have a lasting say on the health of the earth for generations to come.
So, how can sustainability be used in construction to ensure environmental objectives are met? The key lies within environmentally-friendly structures. Since large numbers of people inhabit, use and rely on these structures, it is important to implement factors of environmental care and safety into the construction of these structures.
One way in which this can be done is by using less natural resources. Tapping less into the earth’s resources will go a long way in reducing construction’s impact on the environment.
But of course, using less means more time, energy and costs spent on building structures. The reduction of natural resources used needs replacing of some sort. That is where renewable and recyclable materials and energy comes in.
Renewable energy involves using energy that can be continuously used without affecting the earth. Electricity, fossil fuels etc are not renewable as the cultivation and use of these resources directly takes away from the earth. Renewable energy these days comes from sources such as solar panels and wind turbines. Tapping into these sources will ensure structures are helping to heal the earth and prevent the use of more natural resources that otherwise could be avoided.
Another way that environmentally friendly structures can be built is by implementing waste management. Part of the reason sustainability is so imperative is because of how much people throw away, or use too much of things. Construction works should have systems in place that prevent this from happening and ensure that only optimal levels of energy and resources are used. Renewable energy ties into this, as the energy saved from implementing renewable energy sources can be used in conjunction with natural resources.
Sustainability is key to the performance of the building and construction industry. Because of the industry’s nature and what it does to maintain society, it is inevitable that sustainability concerns will raise question marks and make people question what can be done to make the world a better place. This is why sustainability must be at the forefront of operations. By implementing sustainability, it will enable environmentally friendly structures to be built, which in turn will help the earth to improve.