With the global climate state being declared a crisis, many businesses have been urged to become carbon neutral. This term refers to creating a balance between emitting and absorbing carbon dioxide, to reduce your overall footprint to zero.
According to the UK Green Building Council (UK GBC), the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. For the UK to meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the construction industry must participate.
How can you lower your company’s carbon footprint to help reach this goal?
Use eco-friendly materials
The first step to becoming greener is to work with sustainable materials where possible. Steel and concrete are commonly used within the building industry; concrete is the most widely used substance on the planet besides water. However, they are both extremely CO2 emitting. If concrete were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter in the world.
Timber is one of the most sustainable materials. It absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, can be used as biofuel once it’s no longer needed as a building material, and has low energy consumption. On top of this, timber is easy to work with, offers quick build times, is aesthetically pleasing, fire-resistant, highly durable, and offers superior insulation. If your project requires strong metal for high-rise construction, try to use recycled steel to minimise the environmental impact.
Recycle unused stock
If you have leftover stock, recycle them where possible instead of sending them to landfill. You can also minimise waste by ordering the exact amount of inventory needed.
Using biodegradable materials that break down naturally, such as timber cladding, can limit your environmental impact from the beginning to the end of its lifecycle.
The UK’s leading importer and distributor of bespoke and sustainable timber, International Timber, recycle or recover over 95% of their waste and send less than 5% to landfill. To improve on this further, they aim to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2025.
Sustainably source materials
To fully benefit the environment, you should source your building materials from responsible suppliers. To mitigate the risk of deforestation, ensure any wood-based materials have been harvested from certified forests. Well-managed forests are continuously replenished and kept from causing harm to the surrounding environment.
You can ensure your suppliers have legally sourced the timber by requesting evidence that they are following sustainable policies.
Transport fleet changes
You can lower your firm’s carbon footprint by making easy changes to the management of fleet vehicles and company cars.
These adjustments can include carrying out regular services and maintenance jobs to prolong the vehicle’s lifespan, minimise breakdowns and maximise fuel efficiency.
Train your drivers to use fuel-efficient driving techniques such as:
- accelerating and decelerating smoothly
- limiting the use of air conditioning
- driving within the speed limit
- removing any unnecessary excess weight
Ensure your drivers are prepared for the journey to avoid getting lost and wasting fuel. Also, try to avoid unnecessary travel and combine several short trips into one longer drive, as attempting to start a vehicle’s engine when it’s cold will increase fuel consumption.
Lower energy consumption
To reduce your company’s on-site energy usage, incorporate energy-saving hacks, such as:
- ensuring all equipment is running efficiently
- using energy-saving light bulbs
- selecting a renewable energy tariff
- switching equipment off at night
- going paperless
Promote your company’s sustainability values and policies on your website to show you are committed to becoming carbon neutral, which will put customers at ease who are concerned about your services’ environmental impact. Educate clients and consumers further on the subject to encourage them to continue buying sustainable products and working with ethical businesses.
For the construction industry to positively influence the UK’s carbon emissions, other businesses need to get involved. If you attend any industry events, continue to show your support of carbon neutrality.
So that you can meet your environmental goals, keep your employees up to date with how they can contribute. Thoroughly informing your staff will also ensure they can advise customers or answer any concerns regarding this matter.
All construction companies have a responsibility to minimise their environmental impact before global warming becomes irreversible. As well as helping the planet, becoming carbon neutral improves your company’s reputation, as many customers and clients now prioritise sustainability when choosing between businesses.
Due to the importance of carbon reduction goals, construction firms that don’t incorporate sustainable measures into their business practices may face penalties in the future.