Of all the industry-specific sectors to have caused the most environmental harm, construction has firmly cemented its place as the leader. According to Bimhow, “the construction sector contributes to 23% of air pollution, 50% of the climatic change, 40% of drinking water pollution and 50% of landfill wastes.” In a separate research by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the construction industry accounts for 40% of worldwide energy usage, with estimations that by 2030 emissions from commercial buildings will grow by 1.8%.
It is clear that an industry-wide change in approach, followed by an equally broad level of adoption is required if we are to reverse the effects of climate change and ensure a healthier environment for future generations. Fortunately, the last decade has seen the progressive adoption of Industry 4.0 and with it an active movement towards making construction more sustainable through the application of technology, starting with design.
While design used to focus on either cost or aesthetic, there are a growing number of architects that use programs such as BIM that significantly help to reduce waste in the commissioning phase, while highlighting elements of the build that may clash, helping to reduce corrective work at a later stage.
In terms of material, there has been a shift towards using more sustainable materials such as Green Cement in place of Portland, or superior insulation materials that help to keep the running costs of the building down in the long term. Through methods such as modular construction, the industry further benefits from a controlled environment that allows for sections of a project to be developed with less opportunity for human error, resulting in a higher standard of material output.
Where the build is concerned, innovative systems such as self-climbing formwork, in-situ concrete measuring devices or remote visual access for project managers mean a faster more accurate build process; resulting in less time on site while using only the resources required to get the job done.
As a summary of these efforts, buildings will require less power to operate reducing their demand on the grid, while the quality of the buildings will ensure a longer lifecycle while still being able to have the majority of their materials recycled for future use.
In summary, the aggregated efforts of confronting the easy-to-solve issues of construction, will conclusively make a significant improvement to the overall sustainability of our planet and support a new era of technologically advanced communities.