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Sustainability in the Construction Industry

Sustainability in Construction Industry Executive Summary Sustainability is a complex topic with different components and definitions. We will simply define it as the ability to meet the needs of present day society without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The construction industry is one of the major contributors to ? waste ?water consumption ?Indoor air quality ?Emissions ?Energy use and consumption The need to implement sustainability has arisen due to international developments including Kyoto protocol and Agenda 21.

The key topics addressed in these developments have been the future well-being of our environment that is driven by sustainable development. An increase in public awareness has also pushed to use of sustainable resources to save the environment. Sustainable solutions are readily available but companies will have to make the first step and understand the risks and benefits involved with implementing sustainable practices. Table of contents Introduction3 Purpose of report4

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Definition of sustainability5 Key sustainability aspects6 Sustainable Solutions7 Water8 Waste8 Indoor air quality9 Emissions9 Energy9 Implications for implementing sustainability11 Risks11 Green washing12 Benefits13 Financial benefits13 Publicity13 Risk Management13 Health and well-being13 Conclusion/recommendations14 References15 Introduction With the growing concerns of pollution and its effects on global warming, Sustainability has become a ‘hot topic’ for the public and private business sector.

Sustainability has been defined in many ways with various components but for this report, the most appropriate and simple definition can be that of the 1987 ‘The Brundtland Report’ as: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own need”. As we move further into the 21st Century, an increase in environmental conscious consumers has resulted in a market trend referred to as environmental consumerism, Carlson, Grove and Kilbourne (1994).

Consumers are now more concerned about sustainability and this behavior has had a major impact on their purchases, consumption and disposal of goods and services. For any business who seeks to survive, environmentally sustainable methods of practice must be implemented. Construction is one of the major contributors to environmental waste and excessive consumption of non-renewable resources. As part of the construction industry, Management Foundations Construction is among the large producers of waste and an intensive user of raw materials and energy.

Due to the increased demand from both consumers and international developments such as the Kyoto protocol, a change must be introduced to create a more environmentally sustainable alternative throughout the construction practice and design stage of the business life cycle. Purpose of Report The purpose of this report is to research the implications of environmental sustainability practices in the construction industry and recommend to the board of Management Foundations Construction whether pursuing these new areas of organisational behaviour are likely to contribute to organisational productivity and sustainability.

To gain a complete understanding of the issues related to this topic, the report has been divided in sections; 1. Definition of sustainability and its importance 2. Sustainable solutions 3. Implications for implementing sustainability 4. Recommendations Definition of Sustainability As discussed above, sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. From this definition, it becomes incumbent on us to preserve the environment and its natural resources so future generations are not deprived and destitute.

This requires a change on a world scale, in order to have a great affect. With developments such as the Kyoto protocol, Agenda 21 programs and UN Earth summits, the idea of a sustainable future is well in hand. Sustainable Practices Sustainable practices in construction may incorporate a wide range of ideas and methods. For any new practice to be considered, it must take into consideration the; •integration of economic growth •environmental management and •social equity It should have a positive effect in each of these categories in order to be effective and successful.

Any idea which improves one area, but produces a negative effect on another cannot be used. Sustainable practices must take into consideration the needs of the people and the surrounding environment in which they live. Key Sustainability Aspects There are a number of key themes the construction industry should take into account while considering sustainable solutions; •Design for minimum waste •Minimizing energy in construction and use •Reducing or erasing pollution completely •Preserving and enhancing biodiversity •Conserving water resources Respecting people and local environment •Monitoring and reporting While these points aid in the reduction of damage to the environment, they also provide benefits to the business as a whole e. g. minimizing waste increases efficiency. Sustainable Solutions A view of the building life-cycle can show the diverse areas that construction practices have an effect on. Each phase can be influenced to have a positive effect on sustainable building. The building life cycle consists of seven stages: •Materials : •Planning and design •Construction Operation •Maintenance •Demolition • Disposal A sustainable approach to each of these stages will certainly produce an environmentally friendly outcome. Altum constructions have effectively shown the impact a sustainable approach can have on the environment. Altum constructions build commercial, residential and industrial projects. By engaging clients at the earliest stage of development, generally the design stage, they are able to encourage them to adopt environmentally sustainable alternatives which deliver positive effects to the environment.

Altum constructions have been able to produce a wide range of environmentally friendly ideas which are cost effective as well. It is important to understand that there are many components involved that contribute to environmental quality within the construction industry. Both the construction and demolition of buildings impacts on all of these components and should be addressed when considering the sustainable aspects of the building. Some of the environmental issues which arise during construction practices include: Water Water is used when constructing a new building as well as when the building is in operation.

Management of water storages can be improved with a reduction in both of these phases. Another concern is the contamination of water during the building life cycle. Water can be conserved by installing dual reticulation systems at the time of construction, which uses all grey water for toilet flushing. However, in a commercial building the amount of grey water generated is significantly less than in a residential building. Altum constructions have also implemented similar methods in their designs. They have concentrated on efficient design of building systems, rainwater collection and water re-use. Waste

From the various building activities, such as construction operations, demolition of buildings and building works, waste is produced. Waste from construction and demolition in the building industry accounts for approximately 40% of all waste disposed to landfill (Sustainable Victoria, 2010). In order to address the issue of construction and building waste and how it effects the environment, designers need to use materials that can be reused or recycled after the demolition phase. FWR Group which is another company striving to achieve sustainable means to construction, have effectively implemented this into to their designs.

The concept they have taken is to reduce the amount of natural resources used, work with materials that can be re-used and to re-cycle whenever possible. Not only are these methods eco-friendly but more economic as well. Indoor Air quality Indoor air pollution is increased depending on the products and materials used. In recent years, a number of scientific investigations have demonstrated that emissions of volatile organic compounds or VOCs from different types of furniture significantly contribute to the pollution of indoor air (CSIRO, 2010).

With the use of materials which contain less harmful substances such as VOCS, a healthier environment can be created inside a building. Both Altum constructions and FWR Group give great importance to the use of safer materials. Emissions Australia is very vulnerable to climate change. It is difficult to precisely predict what the impacts of climate change will be, as they vary with each region. Best estimates are that by 2030 Australia will face: (Department of climate change,2011) •a further 1 degree Celcius of warming in temperatures •up to 20 per cent more months of drought up to 25 per cent increase in days of very high or extreme fire danger •Increases in storm surges and severe weather events. Energy A reduction in energy consumption can greatly reduce effects on climate change and become cost effective in the long term. Greenhouse gas emissions and energy productions capacity may be reduced through generating energy from alternate sources. This table shows the various choices available and their capabilities. Generation Type Installed Capacity (MW) Generation (GWh) Wind 4321,218 Hydro 802748 Biomass 120591 Solar electric 6890

Consumers have gradually increased their use of these alternate energy sources over the pass years. With this environmental consumerism, emissions have been reduced. The department of climate change recorded the precise areas affected by the energy changes; (Department of climate change,2011) National Inventory, for the four quarters to March quarter 2011 CategoryAnnual emissions through to the March quarter Mt CO2-ePer cent change in annual emissions b 2010 March quarter a2011 March quarter a National Inventory – Annex A sectors Energy – Electricity202194-3. 9% Energy – Stationary energy excluding electricity88913. % Energy – Transport84851. 5% Energy – Fugitive emissions4241-3. 4% Industrial processes30338. 1% Waste14141. 3% Agriculture8383-0. 6% National Inventory (excluding LULUCF)545542-0. 6% Implications for implementing sustainability The Australian Industry Group in conjunction with Sustainability Victoria has completed the largest survey of environmental practices by Australian industry. A total of 810 companies in the manufacturing and commercial construction sectors participated in the study. These companies had sales revenue of around $41 billion and employed over 56,300 people. (Sustainable victoria, 2007) Businesses regard the highest risk from climate change to be market risk, such as a loss of competitiveness (26% of firms) from higher costs. •In contrast, the majority of companies (56%) saw opportunities from climate change to promote their company as socially responsible and to improve energy efficiency and lower costs. •Reflecting the complexity of the issue, many companies (45%) are undecided as to whether climate change is a net loss, gain or neutral for their business. Risks ?To improve sustainability in construction, industries will sometimes require the use of alternative products e. g. nergy from burning black coal must be substituted with other sources such as solar, wind and hydro energy. These changes in the short term are less economical hence costly. ?Intensive research and planning is required to understand and forecast expected changes, if any, with the implementation of sustainable alternatives for practice. This will both consume time, money and resources. ?As stated in the survey, many businesses are concerned about loss of competitiveness. With many sustainable sources requiring higher costs or lack of design compared to non-sustainable materials, consumers may not be willing to go that level.

Consumerism still reigns strong and many people are more interested in the product and its price and do not give much thought to the environmental effects of the products (Cone 2009). Another possible risk which has risen in the past years is the effects of green washing. Many businesses which noticed the change of consumer interests towards the environment began ‘green advertising’, in order to attract the environmentally friendly consumers. Over a period, these business where identified as putting up false and misleading messages to the public to sell their product. This has led to consumers becoming skeptical n whether these companies are truthful in what they advertise or not. Therefore companies that participate in sustainable projects all fall in the same category as those that do not. EcoPledge. com, a coalition of environmental organizations that uses boycotts to put pressure on environment-abusing companies, joined Earth Day Resources in putting out a report “Don’t be fooled”. They revealed many companies which mislead its customers with false advertising such as Kraft’s Post Selects Cereals, for falsely promoting its cereals as having “natural ingredients” when; in fact, the corn used in the cereal was genetically engineered.

Another company revealed was Tyson Chicken, for promoting its products as “all natural,” even though the company treats its chickens with antibiotics. The council for Biotechnology information was also among the misleaders for promoting genetically engineered foods without disclosing the risks to human health and the environment. (Valley Advocate,2002). Benefits The benefits of sustainable design and construction are not simply environmental; it can also bring financial, publicity, risk management, publicity and health and wellbeing benefits. All these benefits will gradually improve the company as a whole over the long term.

Financial benefits: ?Reduced energy and other running costs in the long term. ?Improved staff productivity: High quality environments within commercial buildings can impact on productivity and reap financial benefits Publicity ?An improved image for developer ?More attractive premises to potential customers and tenants. Risk Management benefits ?Future proofing such as rising energy costs ?Liabilities and negligence; As a company playing its part Health and Wellbeing benefits ?Provide a healthier and more comfortable environment indoors ? Creating a etter place for people to work more productively: On average people spend most of their time within the built environment. There building have a significant effect on the quality of life Conclusions/ Recommendations From the information presented it can be seen that although there are risks in the short term, the long term benefits out weight these issues. For any business, consumers are the most integral part, therefore if they are satisfied, success is guaranteed. The sustainable solutions provided are a sure method of creating a sustainable construction company as proven by Altum Construction and FWR Group.

References 1. Altum Construction, http://www. altum. com. au , 02/09/11 2. Bansal, P. , & Roth, K. , 2000. Why companies go green: A model of ecological responsiveness. Academy of Management Journal, 43, pp. 717-747. 3. Climate Change Impacts, WWF – www. panda. org 26/08/11 4. Cone (2009). “2009 Consumer Environmental Survey. ” www. coneinc. com/content2030 , 25/08/11 5. CSIRO 2011 – www. cmit. csiro. au/innovation/2001-04/furniture , 02/09/11 6. Deen, S. Valley Advocate, Don’t Be Fooled: America’s Ten Worst Greenwashers, www. Greenwashing. net , 01/09/11 7.

Department of climate change Australia, www. climatechange. gov. au , 26/08/11 8. FWR Group, http://www. fwrgroup. com. au/ , 02/09/11 9. Green washing and its effects, www. 1house. com. au , 26/08/11 10. Planning NSW 03/09/2003 – www. planning. nsw. gov. au , 01/09/11 11. Sustainable construction, www. richmond. gov. uk, 02/09/11 12. Sustainable Measures, 2011. Indicators of Sustainability. What is an Indicator of Sustainability? http://www. sustainablemeasures. com/Indicators/WhatIs. html, 26/8/11 13. Sustainable victoria 2011, www. sustainability. vic. gov. au , 25/08/11


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