For the last couple of years, it seems like barely a week has gone by without an alarming sign of climate change. There have been extreme weather events, as well as unexpected wintry conditions in California and the record-breaking heatwave that we saw here in the United Kingdom last summer. The government has made pledges that it will take the issue seriously, but there has been a lot of scepticism from leading figures about how much that will actually amount to. It is very clear that businesses and individuals must also step up and take responsibility.
When it comes to construction, there are a lot of different areas that require focus. So much of the conversation around the construction and property industries over the last couple of years has focused on other issues which, while admittedly important, do not factor in the long-term environmental concerns. For example, there was a huge amount written about the shortages in construction supplies, and the shortage of skilled workers in that industry. Meanwhile, the property market ballooned during the pandemic years and has since come crashing back to earth. As we look forward to the rest of the year, and the years beyond, here are the major environmental issues that construction firms must address when they are working.
1. Air Pollution
Air pollution has been pushed to the forefront in recent months. For example, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has made cleaner air a huge part of his mission. It is important to remember that during the construction process, there are a lot of opportunities for exhaust fumes and other noxious vapours to be emitted for extended periods.
Construction firms must be aware of the air pollution that they are causing and look for ways that they can either mitigate it or rule it out entirely. A simple example of how they can cut down on exhaust created is to use electric vans and other vehicles where possible for transporting materials to the work site.
2. Non-Recycled And Non-Recyclable Materials
This is an area that every business needs to focus on, regardless of sector, but it can be particularly relevant here. People who are looking to build their properties from scratch may insist on using entirely new materials, but there is no need for such a definitive approach. Take something as simple as a wooden deck, for example. Recycled materials are just as hardy, just as effective, and just as easy to style.
It is the responsibility of the contractors to offer a range of materials to their clients and to recommend the use of recycled materials where they can. This will massively cut down on the amount of waste that the construction industry generates. It is also important to think about using recyclable materials.
So much waste from construction projects ends up in landfills. It is vital that the industry as a whole considers this issue and tries to avoid using everything from single-use plastics to non-biodegradable materials.
3. Impact On The Local Wildlife
Every time a construction project gets underway, the local wildlife will be affected. There is such a huge number of different elements and species at play that the idea that a project could be completely free of this issue is a hard one to believe. However, with the right preparation, surveys and consideration, the impact can be kept to a minimum. The specifics will vary from project to project depending on the location and the type of wildlife that lives in the area. For example, a project taking place near water will have to consider everything from fish and frogs to the animals that use the area.
One of the most important species that anyone thinking of renovating or demolishing a building will need to consider is bats. Bats are a protected species in the UK, and they often make their nests in roofs, lofts, and barns. They are also often found in trees, and a bat survey must be conducted to ensure that you are not damaging their habitat.
The first step is to take a preliminary roost assessment. If a roost is found, then you will need further surveys about the best way forward. For more information about bat surveys and a range of other wildlife surveys, talk to the team at Arbtech. They can help you to get surveys done quickly and efficiently and advise on how your project can proceed.
4. Noise Pollution
This point may seem a little less grave than some of the others that have been discussed already, but it is a major factor not just to the local people, but to the local wildlife. Sustained noise pollution can be a serious problem, which is why it is advised that construction companies check with the local council before they begin a project. It may be that work must be restricted to certain times of day, or it may be that the project needs to be moved entirely.
5. Using Methods That Cause Erosion And Contamination
As unfortunate as it may be, there are still a lot of ways that construction companies can damage the local environment through carelessness. For example, it is possible for the soil surrounding the worksite to become eroded thanks to the coming and going of heavy vehicles and heavy equipment, not to mention the ongoing disruption of the construction work itself. Soil and water contamination is also a major risk on a lot of projects and requires constant vigilance from the people working on the site to ensure that it is not happening.
One of the main factors that contribute to these harmful scenarios is businesses not investing in newer techniques and new equipment which are less likely to have a negative impact. Given how tough the market has been, it is understandable that spending a lot of money is the last thing any firm wants to commit to. However, the environmental impact of any construction project must be going to be kept to a minimum.