As construction and demolition materials pile up quickly, the construction industry poses a substantial threat to the environment. By 2025, the volume of construction waste is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tons every year. 

The construction industry has a chance to make more responsible choices with an eye toward sustainability. With a proper strategy for going green in place, companies can save time and materials and improve their bottom line.

In this post, we’re breaking down the ways the construction industry can have an impact by making projects more sustainable.

Efficient Building Design & Material Selection

While material choice undoubtedly needs careful thought, it is important to also consider the bigger picture. Materials are just one piece of the sustainability puzzle and need to be balanced with many other issues such as energy performance, water use, and social and ecological impacts.

Making the ‘right’ material choice is no longer based purely on structural efficiency but a balance across several different factors, including:

  • Efficient design: Creating an environmentally conscious building design provides many options for incorporating sustainability like choosing recycled or natural building materials that generate less CO2 to produce, using solar panels to reduce energy consumption, and opting for window placement that maximizes the amount of natural light available.
  • Durability: In addition to meeting the necessary structural performance criteria (like strength and deflection), materials should be able to withstand the appropriate climate and environment, require minimal maintenance, and be able to accommodate future adaptation. The longer a material lasts, the less is needed to replace or repair in future.
  • Environmental Product Declarations:EPDs can help make the environmental impacts and trade-offs of a product more transparent and comparable, helping your decision makers assess these impacts throughout the product life cycle and identify opportunities to improve environmental performance.
  • Sustainable Materials: New kinds of sustainable building materials are being discovered, modified, and created every day in attempt to phase out their less environmentally friendly counterparts. Some options to consider include cross-laminated limber, papercrete, straw bales, and wool.

The ability to bring alternative designs and materials to the industry will lead to greener projects, increased waste reduction, and major cost savings for your business.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle Waste

Construction projects will always produce some waste but looking at just how much waste the industry produces is eye-opening. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), construction and engineering produce as much as 530 million tons of waste each year, most of which ends up in a landfill.

Construction companies can start to reduce that number by boosting efforts to reuse and recycle as much waste material as possible. Let’s take a closer look at some of the easiest ways to eliminate waste throughout a project:

  • Reduce construction mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes. But if you find your crews are consistently measuring or cutting incorrectly or using the wrong pipe or piece of lumber, you need to get to the root of the problem to avoid ordering incorrect materials, sizes, and amounts to eliminate ending up with unnecessary waste.
  • Reuse Demolition Scraps: Demolition accounts for approximately 90% of a project’s waste, but there are ways to reuse materials post demolition, rather than just throwing them aside. For example, save large drywall scraps to use as filler pieces, use clean concrete chunks, old brick, and other masonry rubble as backfill along foundation walls, and reuse joint compound buckets as storage containers.
  • Implement a Recycle Strategy: Having a recycle bin for workers to toss materials in will help you decrease the number of items you throw in the dumpster and reduce the waste your team creates. For example, items like doors, hardware, appliances, and fixtures can be donated to places like Habitat for Humanity ReStores for reuse.

Reducing the amount of materials you discard during a job will not only help you create a more sustainable project, but will also help your business remain as profitable as possible.

Using Prefabricated Building Materials

Site-based construction leads to inherent difficulties in management, quality control, and efficiency due to the number of unpredictable factors such as weather, management of subcontractors, and scheduling issues.

Prefabricated construction is on the rise for being one of the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly construction methods today. Since prefabricated sub-assemblies are constructed in a factory, extra materials can be recycled in-house. In addition, the controlled environment of a factory allows for more accurate construction, tighter joints, and better air filtration, which in turn allows for an increase in energy efficiency.

In addition to the reduced impact on the environment, using prefabricated materials leads to:

  • increased speed of production
  • reduced levels of defects and waste
  • greater efficiency in the production process
  • improved health and safety of employees

As the environmental awareness among governments and corporations continues to rise, creating greater stability in the manufacturing process is more popular and beneficial than ever.

Choose Vendors that Practice Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing principles identify and eliminate wasteful practices and procedures that are specific to each business and replace them with more optimized lean strategies. Practicing lean manufacturing helps vendors take advantage of opportunities for improvement and focus on value creation for customers through:

  • Increased product quality: Improved efficiency frees up employees and resources for innovation and quality control that would have previously been wasted.
  • Improved lead times: As manufacturing processes are streamlined, businesses can better respond to fluctuations in demand and other market variables, resulting in fewer delays and better lead times.
  • Heightened customer service: By eliminating inefficiencies, lean manufacturing creates faster production, packaging, and shipping times, eliminates errors, and allows employees to spend more time with customers providing better service, listening to feedback, and continuously improving the overall experience.
  • Developed Relationship: Less waste and better adaptability makes for a business that’s better equipped to thrive well into the future, providing continued support for your organization, helping to reduce downtime and increase productivity.

Working with a trusted supplier (like Corrugated Metals Inc.) whose production methods are sustainable, continuously meets industry standards, and thoroughly tests its products to ensure high-quality, will support your business in creating a more efficient and sustainable construction project.

Going Green

Construction has a reputation as a major polluter, but with a few small changes, the industry can turn that distinction around and transform the way buildings are constructed today. This not only rewards your company doing your part for the planet but ensures reduced carbon production throughout the supply chain.

Ready to learn how CMI’s experience, innovation, and lean manufacturing will help you bring sustainable practices into your next construction project? Get in touch today.