Construction is essential, but it also consumes immense global resources. Its large carbon footprint has a negative impact on air quality and the environment, and materials waste often results in excess, which accumulates in landfills.
Implementing solutions for sustainable construction (such as repurposing and recycling waste or adopting more environmentally-friendly methods and materials) has many benefits. Not only does it lessen environmental impact, but it can also conserve energy during construction, save money by optimizing resource efficiency and reducing operating costs, and increase the value of buildings.
Measures for introducing sustainability in construction can be applied during design, construction, or demolition. Helpful initiatives may involve building with renewable resources, investing in eco-friendly materials, and/or employing environmentally-conscious building practices to cut back on pollution—as well as other actions which reduce the environmental impact of construction.
One of the most common ways construction companies promote sustainability is by developing projects that are LEED-certified. LEED certification proves that a building meets the prerequisites for environmental sustainability, taking into consideration energy, waste, materials, and additional factors.
LEED-certified buildings are worth more, as they reduce the cost of energy use over the building’s lifetime. LEED-certified properties have lower carbon emissions, and provide healthier places for the general public. They can also save owners and builders money, by allowing them to leverage energy incentives and government subsidies to offset the cost of construction.
Whether you’re interested in pursuing LEED certification for a particular project, or simply looking for ways to be more environmentally responsible—ALICE can optimize your sustainable construction efforts, and leverage your resources to build more sustainably. Here are some strategies we recommend.
1. Go digital
Transitioning your processes to a digital platform is one foolproof method of ensuring sustainability.
The process of manually planning and reworking scheduling, documentation, and blueprints consumes enormous amounts of paper. Plus, it can also put your business at a serious risk. The Construction Business Owner states that 70% of businesses that still use paper would suffer catastrophic loss in the event of a flood or fire.
Additionally, 10 liters of water are used to make every piece of A4 paper, and for countries that don’t responsibly harvest and conserve their forests, paper production is a large contributing factor to deforestation.
No more paper waste means less pollution, reduced water consumption, and saying no to deforestation.
ALICE digitizes the entirety of your construction data, replacing paper files with access to one organized, efficient, and unified platform. Not only can you generate endless design and scheduling iterations—you’ll save time and money by eliminating associated waste and manual processing.
2. Conserve resources
When it comes to sustainability in the construction industry, resource conservation plays a major role.
Modern tools tend to be less power-hungry—so make sure your crews are using the best equipment, as well as maintaining it regularly. The use of energy-efficient LEDs for construction lighting can drastically reduce draw during nighttime builds. And powering down equipment not currently in use will also conserve valuable fuel and resources.
Leveraging smart design is also a great way to drive conservation efforts. Eco-friendly techniques such as rainwater collection and greywater recycling can conserve water for use in landscape irrigation, for example—and installation of dual-flush or low-flow fixtures will drastically reduce water use throughout the entire lifetime of a building.
3. Reduce waste
Another issue concerning sustainability in construction is waste. Waste should be reduced whenever and wherever possible. Recyclable and reusable items, for example, should always be separated from garbage and items that will be transferred to a landfill.
During building demolition, materials like steel and concrete can be repurposed for other projects. You may also be able to recycle carpeting, flooring, and ceiling components. This can help trim build costs, as well as minimize waste and reduce environmental impact.
Investing in high-quality tools and equipment reduces the need for replacement and its associated waste—as does ensuring that items are properly cleaned and maintained. Heavy equipment should be regularly inspected and certified for compliance, eliminating the risk (and cost) of breakage.
Technologies like ALICE can be used to optimize use of materials, significantly reducing construction waste. For example, during project development, a contractor can reduce timber usage by optimizing for minimal formwork (traditionally made from lumber). Proper resource optioneering reduces build cost and waste, while ensuring your firm is operating sustainably.
4. Make use of natural energy
A big part of eco-friendly construction is making use of natural energy. Renewable energy ensures long-term sustainability while reducing consumption. Two significant natural energy sources are wind and solar.
Wind turbines constructed on rooftops provide clean, naturally-sourced energy. They’re also low-maintenance and are relatively easy to manage.
For homes and commercial and residential buildings, solar panels can transform roofs into generators that provide a consistent source of electricity.
Newer construction technologies like photovoltaic windows also make use of sunlight, converting solar power into electricity through glass embedded with solar cells. These windows can also regulate building temperatures by automatically adjusting their transparency—further improving their energy efficiency.
Solar panels are not only beneficial for powering buildings, they can provide a reliable power source to construction sites, storing energy gathered from the sun for off-grid use.
Solar-powered equipment such as generators, light towers, and GPS trackers can help cut down on site consumption. Opting for the use of electric-powered or hybrid excavators and wheel loaders is far more fuel-efficient than traditional equipment, and reduces dependency on pollution-heavy diesel and other non-renewable fuels.
Some construction sites have even introduced use of solar-powered visual monitoring systems. Used for both security and progress tracking purposes, these systems work well with solar-powered equipment lines, while improving site monitoring access.
5. Source materials from local suppliers
Transporting building materials over long distances contributes to carbon emissions. Shortening the distance from the manufacturer to the construction site by buying materials from local and regional suppliers can ensure more sustainable construction.
In addition to a lower carbon footprint, sourcing from local suppliers shortens delivery times, leading to faster completion and increased productivity.
Efficient routing, materials delivery, and site placement optimization informed by tools like ALICE can also improve site flow and access, further reducing carbon impact and emissions—and improving construction sustainability.
ALICE helps you build more sustainably
Building materials and construction are responsible for 11% of the world's CO2 emissions, and up to 30% of building materials delivered to construction sites end up as waste. Change is necessary—and efficient optimization of resources offers massive potential for improving sustainability.
Sustainable construction is easy to implement with the right tools and platforms. Technologies that optimize resources can minimize waste and maximize your available capital. Digital systems also improve organizational efficiency—eliminating paper waste destined for the landfill.
ALICE is a unified platform for construction optioneering, designed to instantly generate the most efficient plans for your project. At ALICE, our vision is to reduce the cost of global construction by 25%.
Input rules, simulate possibilities, and ask ALICE to propose the best plans for your unique project. Easily manage labor, equipment, materials, and more—while reducing waste, and lowering carbon emissions.
Ready to start building more sustainably? Request a demo with ALICE today!