Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Best practice sustainable construction

What are the methods that could be used by the construction industry to mitigate and adapt to climate change? The construction sector at its best is adapting to climate change by making the adjustments required due to the impacts of carbon already emitted. It is also contributing to the mitigation of climate change by cutting emissions to reduce future climate change. The construction sector is a big user of energy and thus emitter of carbon, in its own offices and other buildings, on its construction sites and through the total impacts of what is constructed - it therefore needs to act in a wide range of areas.

Firstly to deal with mitigation of climate change. Best sustainability practice in the UK construction industry currently means: helping to implement UK Strategy for Sustainable Construction 2008; liaising with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) over its environmental assessment method (the BREEAM Standard) for refurbishment and BRE's Green Guide to construction materials and components; liaising with the Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CORE). The best construction companies are assisting fully in the implementation of the Code for Sustainable Homes 2006, supporting the UK government target that all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016 and all new non-domestic buildings by 2019 and the contents of Building Regulations Part L 2008 leading to these.
Existing buildings are the vast majority of buildings, therefore best practice means: refurbishing to improve all insulation; reduce energy use through use of natural light; use low-energy lighting; use more efficient appliances; change to CHP and renewable energy sources; and reduce water use. Best practice sustainable construction means using one’s own buildings and sites sustainably eg ensuring energy and water are conserved well(working with the Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust on this helps). See the Carillion example here.
Secondly to deal with adaptation to climate change, so far as it allows us to do so. It’s important that there is a wide ranging contribution to industry forums, working groups, workshops and so on, to identify best practice and opportunities for adaptation in the built environment. This helps in achieving a full, concerted response to Defra's  Climate Change Risk Assessment 2012 the first official report on the risks of climate change specifically to the UK (see BBC report here).

Getting wide involvement of stakeholders in the built environment in the process of adapting to climate change helps generate more and better solutions. Increased summer temperatures, such as those recently experienced in the UK, can mean overheating inside buildings and around them, so to avoid adverse effects on people’s health, concentration and productivity appropriate measures to cool and shade buildings and spaces are required, such as: judicious placement and use of trees; covered areas with open sides.

Increased flood risk, increased risk of drought and more severe storms means making greater use of sustainable drainage systems such as: green roofs; rainwater harvesting; permeable pavements; infiltration trenches; filter drains; swales; basins; ponds and wetlands. Increased pressure on water supplies means water conservation and efficiency at all levels. It’s important to design and construct buildings with adaptation to climate change as a planned high priority.
Good advice on more sustainable construction from the Environment Agency here.


  1. The engineers have learn many things only because they focus on the practical aspect of the construction of the structures.This is the only way you can look for some better things.

    Sanola Jerry

    Plos Constructions

  2. Yes, its important to do what works. I would add though that the best practical (pragmatic) approaches are in those involving the continual interplay of practice and theory, with each informing and shaping the other.

  3. Great list. Can't ever leave out the construction site safety tips either!

  4. Good to see a well crafted post based on construction techniques, thanks for sharing. I feel that your post was fluid and describes the topic very well. I always comment positively on construction management and building related posts. I do urge you to visit my likeminded blog. Regards, Steve
    Construction Management Dissertations | Quantity Surveying Dissertations


Genuine, constructive, relevant comments are most welcome.