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  • Writer's pictureSelina Bolton

A Guide to Sustainability in Construction

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

From preplanning and design right through to construction, DDI Projects has been at the forefront of creative construction for a good while now. One change that our team has seen over the last few years is the greater commitment to sustainability by all areas of the industry.

It’s one of the first things that many of our new clients like to discuss – how our team lowers the environmental impact of any construction project, from beginning to end.

To help, we will be publishing a series of articles about sustainability on our site to explain our process and ideology over the next few months.

We aim to work with all our clients to help unlock the potential of sustainable design. To begin with, in this article we’d like to explore the founding principles that guide sustainability in our construction projects.

Minimising Resource Consumption

The conservation of resources is probably the first place that all businesses need to start when it comes to sustainability. In the construction industry, this is doubly important.

It’s not just about only using the minimum materials required for a project but how you utilise other resources as well. For example, the consumption of fuel and energy to build a new property can often be disregarded by companies even though it’s an essential sustainability component. Conserving here could mean, for instance, introducing more energy-efficient tools, monitoring how they are used and how energy and fuel savings can be made.

Our focus on conservation also looks at the types of suppliers and other partners that are used within the construction process. At DDI Projects, we only work with third-party suppliers who share our ethos on ethical building and are themselves working towards reducing their impact on the planet.

Maximising the Use of Resources

The next founding principle in construction is reusing wherever possible. This is something that construction companies have struggled with in the past though things are beginning to change. Effective resource management not only makes sense from an environmental point of view but, done correctly, can also reduce costs in numerous ways.

An example of reuse in the construction industry is when a building is demolished. In days gone by, the waste produced would be loaded onto trucks and dumped in landfill. Today, a large part of the demolition waste produced is broken down and used for aggregates in road works.

An effective strategy of reusing materials and resources needs buy-in from everyone involved, from the artisan carpenter to the company CEO, architects and clients themselves. There is a lot in the construction industry that can be reused including plasterboard, glass, wood and metals as well as aggregates and bricks and blocks. The key is making it a seamless part of the process.

Use Renewable or Recyclable Resources

Materials that can be renewed or naturally replenished or recycled are essential in the modern construction industry. These not only include the use of certain timber types but recyclable concrete, natural fibre composites and low carbon materials.

The good news is that the industry now has access to a wide range of different recycled materials that make a strategy of sustainability much easier to implement. Working with suppliers who are focused on recycled materials is critical and building long term relationships with these types of business has been an integral part of our processes at DDI Projects.

Protecting the Natural Environment

Construction projects have a long and less than edifying history of causing damage to the local environment. It’s not just the impact of the building work but the transportation of heavy equipment that can cause all kinds of accidental damage.

Toxic waste can cause harm to local wildlife, even noise and the commotion of builders going about their work may have an impact. Any construction project needs to ensure that there is a full assessment of what damage could be caused and how this is to be mitigated. Companies need to have strong and easily followed processes in place, for example, to limit pollution, especially to local water sources.

The size and scope of the project of course make a difference. Today, all construction businesses not only have a duty of care to the natural environment but a legal obligation.

Creating a Healthy, Non-Toxic Environment

A healthy building site may sound like an oxymoron but many businesses, including ours, take it extremely seriously. Reducing the number of toxic substances and materials that are used and switching to healthier alternatives is a critical part of sustainability in the 21st century.

It’s also vital to ensure that people working on a construction site not only have the right tools and materials but the appropriate protective equipment as well. Businesses can often be under pressure to complete projects and cutting corners almost always leads to poor work practices and greater risk of injury.

Green building materials on the whole are likely to be non-toxic and present less risk to those involved in any construction project and those who eventually use the property. At DDI Projects, we’re committed to ensuring that we create healthy and non-toxic environments as we build and fit-out your property.

Pursuing Quality in Creating the Build Environment

Finally, sustainable construction is not only about the processes and materials used in the building. The completed project itself needs to be at the forefront of sustainability. That includes focusing on renewable energy such as solar or heat pumps, everything from the energy-saving LED lightbulbs and insulation to the smart technology that is used in the day to day running of the building.

Quality lies at the heart of this and that only works if it is instilled from the initial consultation and design through to the actual build and agreed by both the client and the project managers.

Today’s modern buildings are not just statements, fitting with a particular brand or design idea, they are sustainable and environmentally friendly creations that come with low carbon footprints that benefit the world and will do for years to come.

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