Environmental Considerations for the Construction Sector

John Pickervance
John Pickervance

Published: August 17th, 2023

7 min read

It is becoming ever more paramount in the construction sector for the uptake of improved standards in how energy efficient projects need to be. It's well known that construction does generate a lot of waste. In spite of the difficulties to completely eradicate environmental consequences from construction projects, there are certainly many initiatives to be taken in order to reduce the environmental impact they bring.

Being productive and using more modern operations helps to speed up the construction process, and therefore reduces the amount of energy that needs to be used. Using old, outdated tools and equipment decreases productivity, requiring more energy to complete projects. Keeping operations as energy efficient as possible through updating the tools and equipment you use goes a long way to being more productive and will help to be more cost effective in the long term.

New environmental legislation in place, in the form of the Environment Act (2021), is having a fundamental impact in its objective to deliver on long term, and perceivably ambitious, targets. This will ultimately lead to improvements in air quality, biodiversity, water and waste reduction, and also the efficiency in use of resources on construction projects. This has placed a tougher stance on construction waste management, with the Act conferring powers on national authorities to make their own regulations in a bid to eliminate avoidable waste by 2050. This is to be done through:

  • Extending the liability of producers, such as making them pay for the costs of the disposal of products
  • Putting in place new resource efficiency information and requirements
  • Having charges in place for single use plastics
  • Having more regulations present on the shipments of hazardous waste
  • Waste enforcement and regulation

It is a positive step forward that national authorities now have the relevant powers, but it is for them to determine how and when exactly that power will be exercised going forwards. Consequently, there is no definitive period to ascertain when exactly changes will be seen and how effective they are to be. Nevertheless, the Office for Environmental Protection along with other associated environmental regulators will now be under much increased scrutiny to ensure they are fully using their powers to ensure any breaches of obligations are dealt with in an efficient manner.

To combat construction waste and improve the energy efficiency standards in construction projects, there are a variety of measures to be taken:

  • Using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in your projects. A benefit of this is reduced waste given the emphasis on mass production and producing more and better quality on projects.
  • Conducting an audit of how effectively you manage waste, helping to provide a clearer perspective on the scale of this and be more anticipating, rather than reactionary, to new legislation
  • Looking at ways to improve adaptability, reusing components and materials and becoming more resource effective.

Becoming more energy efficient in your construction projects isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. All businesses need to adopt a way to ensure that they are more efficient in their energy output. Forbes Solicitors' construction team can assist with implementing and reviewing construction contracts and obligations dealing with regulations on waste enforcement, resource efficiency and associated matters. With these in place, we can also look to implement liability and remedy clauses covering any omissions to comply with those obligations and ensure that any consequences of such breaches are dealt with appropriately.

With our experience in acting for construction companies, builders, developers, landowners, funders, architects and structural engineers, we are able to provide a tailored approach and bespoke service to our work to ensure that your business takes the necessary appropriate action to improve its environmental impact in construction projects for the better.

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