The challenges facing sustainable construction

The challenges facing sustainable construction

One of the most important topics to emerge in recent years throughout the construction industry is sustainability. There is currently a high demand from key players in the construction world to deliver a sustainable built environment. However, leaders within construction organisations tasked with the adoption of sustainable construction face many challenges; I have decided to look at what these challenges are, and the pressures on companies to overcome them.

With the Government announcing regulations such as the aim for new-non domestic buildings to be Zero carbon by 2019, and their focus on becoming more ‘green’, the construction industry has had to act accordingly. According to a report by PWC, engineering and construction companies are demonstrating varied responses to the new range of pressures and expectations of developing a sustainable business strategy. Whilst it may be true some companies have thought ahead, knowing that a drive to more sustainable construction was inevitable, the majority have only taken a compliance driven approach, and so are missing out on several work opportunities.

Corporate responsibility is another issue facing companies hoping to adopt a more sustainable approach. The construction industry has been slow to respond to the new regulations introduced in areas such as carbon emissions and waste. Many clients are starting to demand more responsible approaches to design and construction, meaning companies are having to change their way of doing things, with the end result often being projects taking longer to complete.

Many leaders complain that the deadlines have to be extended if green materials are used, and contractors feel extremely pressurised to complete a project within a suitable timeframe, whilst also ensuring the quality of the work has not been compromised.

/sustainable globe map

One of the most common reasons why sustainable construction is frowned upon by some is the perception that it is highly expensive. Many construction professionals feel that the short term costs of sustainable construction are too high to justify their application in a highly competitive market. While sustainability is seen as making good business and economic sense by some industry stakeholders, it is deemed as a burden by others.

It not just cost on projects that could affect construction companies however. Increased government and cost pressures to reduce water usage and waste would generate the need for some new activities and skills. This would mean companies spending more money on training their employees on the new processes that sustainable construction brings.

Sustainable construction must balance environmental and social concerns with profitability. With the Government now heavily focused on sustainability it means that planning consent increasingly depends on meeting specific environmental criteria and building regulations will become more stringent. With major clients now demanding ‘green’ projects, it is the contractors who can demonstrate the ability to work in an environmentally friendly way that will gain repeat business. The key challenge facing companies is to be open minded and flexible, as it definitely seems sustainability is here to stay.

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Posted by
Paul Ricci - Editorial Account Manager

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