Sustainability In Construction
The construction industry has a significant impact on the environment we live in. Traditionally, manufacturers would run a high carbon footprint with large emissions from production. Projects across the construction industry, from full builds to renovations and repairs, are utilising environmentally harmful processes. Manufacturers can play a pivotal role in changing these processes and leading better, more sustainable, practices.
So how is the construction industry looking to reduce its environmental impact and what solutions are being put forward to reduce emissions, waste product/materials and more?
Sustainable Construction Materials
One of the most effective ways to reduce any environmental impact is using sustainable construction materials. But what does that mean exactly? Well, there are several factors that can help lower construction materials’ carbon footprint and minimise environmental impact, making it more environmentally beneficial. There are also several specifically sustainable materials that can be chosen as alternatives to non-sustainable materials. Here we take a look at a number of those factors that are fast becoming everyday topics and decisions to be made in the construction industry today….
Using recyclable materials
Let’s start with the obvious. Firstly, finished materials which include recycled material or can be recycled after use, offer a far lower carbon footprint than non-recycled alternatives. Using recycled materials requires less energy, produces fewer emissions, and reduces waste by contributing to a closed loop economy. Popular recycled materials include steel and wood, which, as we’ll cover next, provide several other environmentally friendly benefits.
Moving towards a circular steel economy with recyclable raw materials being reused and remanufactured repeatedly will result in fewer carbon emissions than always manufacturing from virgin materials.
According to Tata Steel, the recycling rate of steel depends on the end-use however they estimate around 85% of steel, at the end of its first useful life, is recycled.
Ensuring effective recycling
How can we turn 85% into 100%? There are several measures that can be taken to enhance the recyclability of steel:
- Design for recyclability.
There are various ways to ensure that, after first use, steel can be recycled. This includes avoiding mixing steel with materials which are non-recyclable and minimising coatings and finishes on the final products. Both reduce complications during separation needed for recycling.
- Collection of scraps
Scrap metal is important within recycling and should be considered. Efficient collection of scrap metal in manufacturing and delivery to recycling facilities helps to reuse otherwise useless products. This can also be encouraged across construction sites and other factories through local initiatives.
- Collaboration in the supply chain
To raise the standard, recycling needs to be considered at each step of the supply chain. This starts from those dealing with raw materials through to the end customer; all wasted material can be included in the recycling process.
There are many more ways to ensure steel can be infinitely recycled, making it a more sustainable material to use in manufacturing.
Using clean energy and moving away from fossil fuels
The construction industry relies heavily on fossil fuels that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Wider adoption of clean energy processes across the industry can help reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality globally. Historically, fossil fuels such as coal, diesel and gasoline would keep the machines working but to achieve a more sustainable future, these need to be replaced.
Construction industry emissions can be lowered by switching from fossil fuels to renewable clean energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal power. Sustainable energy alternatives can be used in manufacturing, on construction sites, and to power transport fleets.
Lionweld Kennedy have completely replaced red diesel across our factory with Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil to drastically improve our carbon emissions. The estimated carbon savings of our switch is a reduction of 250 Tonnes of CO2e per year (or a 37% reduction of CO2e annually).
In addition, we have also installed a solar panel system at our manufacturing site in Middlesbrough, designed to generate 300mWh annually and reduce our carbon emissions by 70 tonnes each year.
If you would like to know more about Lionweld Kennedy’s sustainability journey, read more here.
Lowering transport emissions
Transportation is critical to the construction industry, as materials and equipment must be transported to and from construction sites. However, it’s this transportation that can have a significant impact on the sustainability of construction as a whole. The vehicles used to transport materials, machinery and goods can be anything from a truck to an aeroplane, which is using fossil fuels, only adding to the current environment and climate crisis we are now in.
One way to reduce the impact of transportation on sustainable construction is to source materials domestically. Sourcing materials from nearby locations can reduce transportation emissions and promote the use of local resources. Lionweld Kennedy are the only manufacturer of steel grating in the UK, producing all of our steel open mesh flooring at our Middlesbrough facility.
In addition, emissions could be reduced further by adopting electric and hybrid vehicles for transportation. These changes can be made at all levels. This can be the transport to and from your site, even around your site. For example, at Lionweld Kennedy, we have reduced our annual diesel consumption by over 10,000 litres by switching to fully electric forklift trucks.
Reducing construction waste
The construction industry unfortunately leads the way in producing waste product and bi products. Although much of the UK’s construction waste is often recovered for use as aggregate, large sums still end up in landfill. Repurposing waste products is a great step towards improving sustainability in the construction industry.
Recycling waste is key to maintaining the highest sustainability standards. Creating an effective recycling process may take some time, but the investment is worth it to bring down your project’s carbon footprint. This requires vetting your supply chain, ensuring your waste is recycled in a viable and responsible way.
Another form of recycling is to simply reuse materials. Much of what is removed from renovation projects can be reused. Unfortunately, many materials that can be used often end up as waste. Instead of sending these materials to landfill, work with reclamation yards. You’ll be able to save far more than you might expect and can make some more money doing so. Combine this with the previously mentioned waste recycling management, and you can drastically decrease the amount of waste produced on any project.
Overuse of materials
Skilled manufacturers should be able to optimise their product ranges to ensure they are the most efficient they can be, whilst still being fit for purpose. Take our Safegrid range of compliant steel flooring for example, through rationalising our core product range and making design changes, we have been able to reduce the amount of steel used in our core products by over 185 tonnes annually. Not only does this have a positive impact on carbon emissions during manufacturing, but this also means the product is lighter, thereby reducing emissions during transportation, too.
Our Utility Grating is the most efficient flooring specification available on the market, using the least amount of steel over any competing product to meet the loading and ball proof requirements stated in the British and European standards.
Preventing Future Waste
The repercussions of your choices will far outlast the project itself. The materials you use now will influence how much waste there will be in the future. By picking longer lasting materials that can be easily recycled, you also prevent future waste. Consider what options you are leaving for future projects if these materials are removed. Can they be recycled or reused?
The UK’s Leading Sustainable Steel Access Solutions Supplier
At Lionweld Kennedy, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We have implemented many sustainable business practices to reduce our impact on the environment.
Our commitment is not limited to our practices, either. It is also reflected in our products as Lionweld Kennedy have obtained the world’s first Environmental Product Declaration for steel grating!
As part of our efforts to lead a better change within the industry, obtaining the EPD for our low-carbon, infinitely recyclable Safegrid products cements our commitment to our ESG plan and minimising our impact on the world.
An EPD is a powerful tool which empowers us as steel manufacturers to build a better future. We are proud to be the world’s first and only manufacturer to have an EPD for steel grating and receiving this EPD is a testament to the hard work put in across our business.
Discover more about how we have invested in a certification to raise the standards within the manufacturing industry here.
Choose Lionweld Kennedy, the UK’s only manufacturer of sustainable steel access solutions.
<H2>Learn More About Steel Access Solutions
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