Sustainability in Construction

Sustainable Construction

The DTI Construction Sector Unit (CSU) has carried out a review of the Government’s Strategy for Sustainable Construction. The CSU have been consulting on the following issues:

  • what is current good practice within the industry;
  • how industry anticipates sustainable construction developing and what the future priorities should be.

The CSU’s  ‘Review of Sustainable Construction 2006’  was published in October 2006 and supersedes the original strategy  ‘Building a Better Quality of Life – a strategy for more sustainable construction’  which was published six years ago.

The DTI Construction Sector Unit is now working closely with stakeholders from across Government and industry to produce a range of targets and measures which will inform a new Sustainable Construction Strategy. The Strategy will aim to take a longer-term view on how the UK construction industry can become more sustainable and work towards the overall sustainability targets of the UK.

The Strategy has spawned a number of initiatives including:

  • Constructing Excellence
  • The ICE Demolition Protocol
  • The Sustainability Forum

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a key driver for private sector companies seeking to embrace sustainability into their business.

  • transparency
  • responsiveness
  • fairness and diversity

Sustainable Communities Plan

In February 2003, the UK Government launched  the Sustainable Communities Plan which sets out a long-term programme of action for delivering sustainable communities in both urban and rural areas.

The Plan includes major reforms of housing and planning and a new approach to how we build, and what we build, in order to bring about development that meets the economic, social and environmental needs of future generations, as well as succeeding now.

The public sector will be imposing sustainability conditions from the Plan in their forthcoming procurement schemes, and thus sustainability is expected to gain importance in governmental procurement.

Sustainable Procurement National Action Plan

On the 12th June 2006, the Government published  ‘The National Action Plan: Procuring the Future’.   The action plan aims to deliver sustainable procurement to stimulate innovation through public procurement, and deliver sustainable procurement by complementing and building on existing activity.

The National Action Plan identified 174 Government spend areas, 18 emerged as priorities. Public sector construction (i.e. building and refit, highways and local roads, operations and maintenance) was the number one priority on this list. Within the National Action Plan, the Government’s Sustainable Procurement Task Force (SPTF) have identified that attention should be focused on areas where it is anticipated that there will be a significant increase in future spend e.g. Buildings Schools for the Future Programme, London 2012 Olympic Park Construction.

A specific recommendation has been identified in the National Action Plan related to the implementation of sustainable construction practices, specifically in relation to the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ building programme.

Sustainability Tools and Approaches

Different tools, guides and approaches are available to assist in the mainstreaming of sustainability into construction projects.

Since a number of these incorporate the use of aggregates, we have developed a Sustainability Matrix to help you decide how to source and procure the most sustainable type of aggregates.

The matrix contains relevant UK based sustainability approach tools with a presentation of how they deal with aggregates, as well as how the use of aggregates can contribute to your organisation’s environmental policy and/or sustainability strategy.

With the matrix being searchable, you are able to find and compare approaches.

  • Sustainability Approaches – provide information ABOUT sustainability from a specific perspective.
  • Operational Guides – provide information on HOW to build
    sustainability into a project (including the use of RSA – recycled or secondary aggregates).
  • Assessment Tools – are used to MEASURE sustainability (and the contribution played by RSA) via some index or scoring system.

Walkthrough Examples of Tools and Approaches

To let you try a demonstration of some of the most applicable tools, guides and approaches available, the following walkthrough examples have been compiled:

  • BREEAM Offices which measures a building’s environmental performance
  • CEEQUAL which assesses the environmental performance of civil engineering works
  • ESRSA tool for sourcing sustainable aggregates
  • UKCEED Sustainability Checklists for Development for highlighting sustainability impacts in new development proposals
  • The CO2 Emissions Estimator Tool which assesses the CO2output resulting from different applications.

These walkthrough examples give a demonstration of how the tool assesses the role that aggregates can have in sustainable construction.

Try a Sustainability Tool

Why not try applying a Sustainability Tool to your planned or ongoing project?
To help you, either:

  • download Viridis’ ESRSA Tool which allows you to select the most sustainable source for your aggregates use for a specific application, at a specific site;
  • use the interactive version of Golder’s Sustainable Resource Management Tool which provides environmental and financial results for aggregates use.
  • download the WRAP CO2 emissions estimator tool to help decide upon the best construction techniques and aggregate supply alternatives based on the associated carbon dioxide emissions.