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How can the construction industry support green buildings

Green buildings help to preserve vital natural resources and create healthier environments for people to live and work in. To achieve these resource-efficient buildings, informed and environmentally responsible choices must be made throughout the entire lifecycle of a building – from planning, design and construction through to operation, maintenance and demolition.

The construction industry has an important role to play in achieving green buildings, and strong potential to influence: the reliance on water and energy; the selection of sustainable building materials; and the reduction of waste. 


Energy

Reducing energy consumption and relying on more sustainable energy forms are important aspects of achieving green buildings.  Here are some tips to improve energy efficiency during construction. 

  • To reduce the fuel and energy demands of equipment during construction: 
    • Ensure proper operation and maintenance of all construction tools and equipment. 
    • Where possible choose energy-efficient alternatives (like hybrid diesel and electric).
    • Avoid oversizing construction equipment – like generators. 

Coates Hire’s Silver Service Maintenance Program ensures the regular and effective servicing of its fleet, enhancing equipment performance and reducing emissions.

  • Up to up to 25% of winter heat loss happens through air leakage. The correct installation of insulation (i.e. eliminating gaps and achieving proper waterproofing) will significantly improve a building’s passive energy performance – and the comfort of occupants.
  • Measuring energy consumption is another important step towards continual improvement.


Water

Water is one of the world’s most at-risk resources, so it must be used sparingly and sustainably in construction – and in the manufacture of building materials. To reduce water consumption in construction: 

  • Eliminate wasted water by fitting trigger guns to all hoses, and paying attention to leaks. 
  • When performing heavy-duty cleaning tasks (like removing concrete from equipment), use a high-pressure, low-volume hose to maximise efficiency and minimise water use.
  • Find innovative ways to recycle water – like using it for soil conditioning and dust control.
  • Consider sustainable alternatives for building materials requiring water intensive manufacturing.
  • If you’re really serious about conserving water, fit a water meter on site and take regular readings.


Building materials

The selection of building materials affects the whole lifecycle performance of buildings. To help achieve green buildings, specify materials that: 

  • Offer good thermal qualities
  • Utilise recyclable or reusable materials and are recyclable / reusable at end of life
  • Contain no toxic elements 
  • Require minimal water and energy to manufacture and transport
  • Are low emission – like recycled plastic, straw bales, bamboo, rammed earth, and more innovative materials like HempCrete, Timbercrete® and Ferrock
  • Require minimal maintenance for the life of the building.

The environmental performance of building materials is also influenced by where and how they are sourced. Buying locally reduces carbon emissions from transportation, and materials that are sustainably sourced will also have reduced environmental impact. 

In 2019 Coates Hire implemented a new Transport Management System to reduce emissions and improve the efficiency of all transport activities. This technology now supports better planning and fleet utilisation and reduced carbon emissions. 


Waste

The focus on reducing waste in construction is hardly surprising – given the construction industry contributes almost 40% of Australia’s waste production each year. The message for reducing construction waste is clear: simply reduce, reuse and recycle. 

Developing a waste minimisation strategy can help to focus waste reduction efforts around these areas, and may include some of the following strategies:

  • Use lean construction techniques like modular construction, pre-fabrication and construction robotics for more precise building processes.
  • Building information management (BIM) and other modelling software can improve quantity estimates.
  • Work with your supply chain to reduce the use of packaging, and to negotiate buy-back terms with regular suppliers.
  • Many construction waste materials can be recycled and reused. Making diverse recycling facilities easily accessible on site makes recycling much easier and encourages a more waste-conscious mentality. 


In partnering to deliver major construction projects across Australia, Coates Hire is committed to achieving excellence in environmental practices and supporting the sustainability and environmental performance of its customers. Find out how Coates Hire is working to improve sustainability in construction. Alternatively, reach out to our team or find your local branch.

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