We explore how the UK construction industry can become greener whilst remaining competitive and continue to fulfill customer needs.
The construction industry hasn’t always been the cleanest industries in terms of sustainability and green strategies, particularly due to some of the materials that are used and construction processes, in addition to heavy machinery. This needs to change - construction companies cannot ignore climate responsibility.
A recent report has revealed that UK buildings are generating 30 percent of the nation’s emissions meaning building companies and professionals have a big part to play to reduce this figure. Companies that are most polluting risk fines and reputational damage in the future.
In recent years customers and legislators have encouraged these companies to design and deliver buildings that can provide green benefits such as lowering carbon emissions, all at a decent cost. These are most commonly known as smart buildings, ones which place digital technologies and data at their foundation.
A Smarter Approach
In the UK, construction companies are now required by law to control the environmental impact of all projects from a full-lifecycle perspective. Whole-life carbon assessments of projects have become the norm in the construction process for these firms in order to comply with the numerous environmental and carbon-reducing standards that are in place in the nation’s industry. These studies are carried out in several phases from the very start to the finish, where a final assessment will be made. The goal of this is to of course achieve a successful, net-zero construction.
The operational phase is also a very important factor to look at when meeting decarbonisation standards. A lack of digitally connected systems in place makes this difficult, particularly within older buildings that were constructed before these environmental requirements were in force. Real-time, continuous data is required on site through the entire construction process to ensure that the decarbonisation levels are met successfully.
A smart-buildings philosophy needs to be put in place across all construction companies in order to meet these requirements effectively and without any difficulties getting in the way.
Putting systems in place
What makes a building ‘smart’? Firstly, innovative technology such as the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) must be utilised including IoT enabled devices and sensors embedded at key points of the energy infrastructure. There are a few approaches you can use for this, but the most common ones would be smart circuit-breakers or energy sensors to keep track of energy usage across the building such as air conditioning and heating.
With this technology and visibility at construction companies’ fingertips, they are able to look into key areas of wasted energy and take the necessary steps to eliminate them. As months pass these firms will be able to see the systems that are the worst carbon offenders in the longer term and can take action to cut waste.
Improved emissions isn’t the only benefit of these digitised buildings, utility costs are a very important factor for their owners and smart building technology is able to save large amounts of money annually.
Construction firms must realise the smart advantage of IoT-based technology and should build structures from the ground up with a digital-first mindset to reduce environmental impact whilst keeping costs down for owners years into the future.
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