• Conor McIntyre

Sustainable Construction Trends & Opportunities

Many industries are rapidly evolving to be more sustainable in nature. The construction industry is no different. In fact, sustainability is currently a significant trend for many construction companies. However, others are falling a bit behind trends. Experts predict that companies who gear towards embracing sustainability will be more successful long term. Let’s take a look at some of the trends in sustainable construction as well as opportunities for growth. Prefabrication Shifting to a prefabrication model embraces economies of scale, a more efficient production process, and less waste. This type of model has traditionally been associated with lower standards of quality; however, modern improvements in materials management and design have greatly enhanced the quality of prefabricated housing. This is an area that has a great deal of opportunity to change the face of construction in Ireland if companies decide to adopt it. It could also contribute to lower housing costs, a much-needed reality in Ireland. Prioritize Local Suppliers The restaurant industry is known for promoting sustainability by sourcing locally, and the construction industry is rapidly following suit. Utilizing local suppliers has the obvious benefit of cutting down on transportation costs both monetarily and to the environment by generating less carbon emissions. This is an area that many companies can continually seek to improve by assessing the best options for vendors. Cut Out Waste There will always be some waste when working in construction; however, an important trend in sustainability is to seek to reduce it. This involves a number of things such as opting for suppliers who use little packaging. Additionally, using products made from recycled materials helps promote a sustainable build. Training workers to separate and categorize waste can also lead to more efficient recycling. Companies can benefit from setting ambitious goals such as 75% landfill diversion. There are many opportunities for construction companies to implement these procedures and great improve their efforts. Implement Lean Methods Lean manufacturing can save costs but also enhance environmental protections. This refers to a collection of processes aimed at reducing waste while maximizing productivity, resulting in more efficient construction and greater return on investment for companies. One practice involves “just in time” construction. This can most efficiently be used with concrete, which is the top contributor to construction waste. Essentially, this method calls for the material to be produced when the customer wants it, how they want it, and in the exact quantities needed. This great reduces waste while also reducing cost. This is a practice that any company can implement by working with vendors. It will also help the company’s bottom line by reducing costs of construction. Embrace Technology Digital technology has been a huge recent trend within the construction industry as it provides greater benefits. Construction management software can reduce waste in the form of paper. While this may seem like a small thing, the reality is that companies who implement software have also found that it empowers reducing errors and the need for rework. This again benefits the company and the environment by saving time and reducing waste. Technology is one way to make sustainability an affordable investment. Final Thoughts Obviously, the shifting world means that there will be a greater demand for sustainability moving forward. This is already evidence in the construction industry with these trends. There are many opportunities to further adoption of these trends. Currently, trends suggest that larger companies have been able to more efficiently implement some of these trends while smaller companies have faced some barriers. Moving forward, better empowering small companies in the construction industry to adopt sustainable changes, which often require a bit of upfront investment to shift processes, would be an excellent way to move forward.

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