The Building and Construction Industry vs. The Environment - A Brief Analysis

Concerns for the Environment and the Earth’s conservation are becoming increasingly significant in the successful progression of global corporate industries - especially in construction.

With a huge percentage of pollution that can be attributed to building on a global scale reaching 50% in Land fill waste; Ozone depletion and climate change gases, it is pivotal that the building industries move forward in implementing preventative measures to decrease catastrophic effects, not only on an environmental level, but also on a more human level.

Particular stand out area’s for concern and in urgent need of addressing include the profound impact that the building industry has had on:

The over production of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

The manufacturing of materials specifically for the purpose of building and building interiors can carry huge upstream CO2 emissions from roofing; building shells; service systems (including plumbing, conveying and electrical installations) and interiors and finishes. This CO2, on smaller scales coming from furnishing and finishes internally, can harm the working organic systems in humans - think: the respiratory system. On its larger counterpart, it attacks the Ozone layer and therefore the Earth’s natural ecological system.

The hydrological system

The close relationship between commercial and residential expansion and agricultural intensity has, in fact, exceeded the limit of the land to absorb and intake rainfall. Simultaneously, the damaging effects of CO2 and other toxins on climate change has significantly increased rainfall on a whole, resulting in: severe flooding on a global scale and its subsequent effects on the quality of human life.

Waste and Pollution

The built environment introduces harmful and toxic pollutants (particularly, and worryingly, mainly from non-renewable energy sources) to workers from: material manufacturing and handling and sewage production. Little consideration towards excessive waste from inappropriate material and use has contributed to global warming; contributed to by non-thoroughly considered estimations and procurement at pre-development stages.

BREEAM, or, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, is the longest standing method of assessing the sustainability of buildings. It is the governmental legislation put in place for Building design and construction which ultimately tries to stabilise excessive pollution and increasingly forces large construction companies to be considerate of the environment.  It adheres to a scoring system which must be achieved by construction companies before a development can progress, judging on:

  •          Energy
  •          Pollution
  •          Land-use and Ecology
  •         Water
  •         Health and Wellbeing
  •         Transport
  •         Materials
  •       Waste Management

More and more developers and contractors are now taking precautions and measures in the predevelopment stages of construction in order to achieve the desirable BREEAM status, and to reduce the effects during and after building.

The planning phase is crucial to the successful sustainability of the buildings in question. Developers and contractors consider the protection of biodiversity (trees/ponds etc.) to improve and sustain the Earth’s natural ecosystem, and thus improving the health of the atmosphere.

Carefully designed structures are also a huge contributing factor to the building’s sustainable qualities. By minimising the waste of materials as normally acquired through incorrect estimates and indulgent purchasing, the risk of pollutants is also greatly reduced. There is also a lot to be said about companies who are able to optimise passive energy use during construction, particularly in reducing electrically fuelled lighting and heating by using solar panels to generate such, organically.

Written by Kayley Loveridge




Ashbrittle Limited
Suite 1, Unit 1, Verulam Estate
224 London Road,
St Albans,
Herts, England,

Telephone: (+44) 01727 854054
Fax: (+44) 01727 865557

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