How the construction industry is using technology to become more sustainable

3 min read

How the construction industry is using technology to become more sustainable
Building a sustainable future through the use of digital solutions and technology, the UK's construction industry is transforming to reduce waste
In the lead-up to 2050, the construction sector faces a critical transformation in order to align with the established emissions reduction objectives. Acknowledged as one of the UK's most environmentally impactful industries, construction companies and contractors are under increasing pressure to take more significant steps towards sustainability.
According to RedSky, construction software experts, digital solutions and technologies could be the key to addressing these challenges. They offer a range of advantages, from enhancing energy efficiency throughout the supply chain to monitoring and reducing waste, enabling construction firms to keep pace with the set timeline and outshine their competition.

Addressing the challenge of carbon emissions in construction

Construction worker using circular saw
The UK government has unveiled an initiative to reduce at least 100% of greenhouse gases by 2050 compared to 1990. As the industry is responsible for around 23% of air pollution, construction firms, contractors and subcontractors are being asked to account for their carbon emissions.
"Responsible for around 23% of air pollution, construction firms need to account for their carbon emissions"
Under new rules, those who wish to compete for government tenders worth more than £5 million p/a in value must pledge their commitment to net zero targets. Essentially, construction companies with a forward-thinking approach to waste reduction, responsible material sourcing, and who recognise the urgency required in reducing carbon emissions are more likely to win more business.

Changing the game of sustainability: digital solutions

Keeping up with new legalisation and ensuring compliance with sustainability requirements can seem challenging but technology is changing all that.

1. Optimising the supply chain

Thanks to Supply Chain Management digital platforms, it’s now easier for construction firms to review, investigate and optimise their supply chain. Construction businesses can utilise contractors that align with their carbon reduction ethos and that make conscious decisions to be less polluting.
Energy-focused contractors may become more in demand among suppliers due to this development.

2. Enhancing energy efficiency

A smart city with IoT integration
In line with building regulations around fuel conservation, new builds must be considered throughout their lifecycle, not just early-planning stages to completion. With this knowledge, construction firms can make more tactful decisions on smart building systems and IoT (Internet of Things) integration.
Even after a build has been finalised, residents can enjoy a home that ensures optimal energy efficiency and prime opportunities to monitor energy.

3. Reducing waste, from water to materials

Alongside data collection and KPIs, construction firms can utilise digital platforms to help monitor material purchases and usage. Unfortunately, the industry is responsible for 50% of the UK’s landfill and 40% of drinking water pollution, meaning there must be a greater commitment to monitoring waste levels.
Digital platforms aid firms are looking to keep track of material use, performance and price, allowing them to compare and select the most appropriate choice.

4. Accounting for existing carbon

There’s no need for disparate spreadsheets and reports, easily keep track of existing carbon emissions in a centralised location, easily set targets and produce performance reports on how your company is progressing.
"Construction firms are using more sustainable materials, reducing water waste and using forward-thinking contractors"
Every day, construction firms are making conscious choices to use more sustainable materials, reduce water waste and select contractors with a forward-thinking approach to carbon reduction.

5. Modular construction

Modular terraced homes
Off-site construction is known to speed up certain building projects, especially those with tighter deadlines. For high-rise buildings, such as flats, offices and hotels, modular construction can offer greater energy efficiency. Produced off-site, they reduce construction time, foot traffic on building sites and overall project waste.

6. Planning, development and design

Architects, engineers and surveyors now have the ability to produce detailed 3D models of structures and buildings, thanks to the implementation of BIM (Building Information Modelling) and StreamBIM software.
"Architects, engineers and surveyors now have the ability to produce detailed 3D models of buildings"
As well as allowing visualisations of design, it simulates the construction processes. Effectively, early-stage planners can optimise material use, reducing wasted materials and emissions.

How will digital solutions support the future of construction?

The UK's construction industry is taking significant strides towards reducing its carbon footprint through digital innovations. These technologies are transforming the way buildings are designed, constructed, and operated, resulting in improved energy efficiency, reduced waste, and diminished carbon emissions.
Moreover, the substantial contrast between the carbon footprint of old and new buildings underscores the positive impact of sustainability innovations. As the construction sector continues to embrace digital solutions, it edges closer to realising the UK's ambitious goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.
Banner photo credit: Andrii Yalanskyi

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