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Sustainability in construction

Australia’s mining sector is in the spotlight, following a series of reports and landmark decisions calling on the industry to reduce its impact on the environment.
 
In NSW plans for the high profile Rocky Hill coal mine were rejected in a push to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – a decision with far-reaching implications for the energy sector and many other projects just like it. Meanwhile in Queensland the controversial Adani coal mine continues to face an unprecedentedly rigorous approval process.
 
The scrutiny these projects face highlights the need to reduce our impact on the environment – but mining isn’t the only sector that needs to think and operate more sustainably.
 
Sustainability in construction
 

Australia is one of the biggest emitters of GHG per capita in the world, and according to The Carbon Footprint of Australia’s Construction Sector, our construction sector alone produced 18% of Australia’s global GHG emissions in 2010.
 
As the leading supplier of hire equipment to many industries – including mining and construction – Coates Hire strives to be a market leader in environmentally sustainable practices. We support our customers and guide our suppliers towards excellence in this area. Here are some of the ways we encourage sustainable practices in construction: 
 
  • To reduce emissions and improve the efficiency of our transport activities, Coates Hire implemented a new Transport Management System. This technology allows us to better plan and utilise our fleet, working more efficiently and sustainably.
     
  • Our Silver Service Maintenance Program helps us to regularly and effectively service our fleet, enhancing the performance of our equipment and reducing emissions.
     
  • We are focused on delivering sustainable site accommodation solutions, with many of our major clients starting to build this requirement into their tenders. Coates Hire is part of an industry working group in NSW exploring industry-wide sustainability standards to improve temporary site accommodation.
     
  • Coates Hire is also partnering with Monash University on the production of high grade, lightweight steel – one of many ways we partner with industry to help our clients achieve safer, more sustainable and affordable solutions.
 
Reducing emissions and promoting better environmental practices
 

There are many opportunities to improve sustainability performance of the construction industry. If we look around the world for inspiration, studies into Norway and Ireland’s construction sectors  found considerable emission reductions can be achieved by:
 
  • Increasing the share of renewable energy in powering construction.
  • Improving the maintenance of machinery and other construction equipment.
  • Reducing reliance on carbon-intensive building materials like cement, concrete, plasterboard, limestone, brick and other ceramics (responsible for 39.2 per cent of embodied emissions from construction in Australia).
  • Reducing the transport requirements for construction materials (for example, through better supply chain management and sourcing materials and labour locally).
 
Other ways we can reduce the environmental impact of construction include:
 
  • Supporting the growth of prefabrication, reducing construction waste and transport emissions.
  • Using waste materials from old buildings for new construction projects and for retrofitting existing buildings.
  • Improving industry measurement and reporting on sustainability and emissions.
  • Improving the future performance of our buildings through effective facilities management.
 
To meet Australia’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Target more can and must be done across all industries. We must take responsibility for our environmental performance and look objectively at where change is needed – because even small changes can quickly add up to big improvements for our planet.
 
What steps has your business taken to think and act more sustainably? What challenges do you face in working sustainably? Please share your thoughts with us via LinkedIn.
 
Alternatively, please contact a member of the Coates Hire team on 13 15 52.

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