What is sustainability in construction and civil engineering?
Sustainability is defined the desire to perform activities without any depletion of resources or bringing any harmful effect on the environment. Practicing sustainable construction methods will help avoiding harmful effects from construction activities.
Construction involves activities like use of building materials from various sources, use of machineries, demolition of existing structures, use of green fields, cutting down of tress etc. which can impact environment in one or more ways. Civil engineering field being the major part of the economy, it is very essential that sustainable construction practice dominate the past followed conventional construction practice and methods.
Need for Sustainable Construction
Construction has a direct impact on the environment due to following reasons:
- Generation of waste materials
- Emissions from vehicles, machineries
- Noise pollution due to use of heavy vehicles and construction machineries.
- Releases of wastes and pollutants into water, ground and atmosphere.
Sustainability assessment of construction projects is essential to the fact that it does not create any harmful effects on the living ecosystem while optimizing the cost of construction. This is to ensure the availability of resources for the future generations.
How to Ensure Sustainable Construction?
In order to support sustainability in the field of construction, the building and the built environment have to satisfy some of the important criteria. This will include:
- Biodiversity Enhancement
- Support to the Community
- Effective Use of Resources
- Pollution Reduction
- Creating Healthy Environment
- Process Management
1. Biodiversity Enhancement
Sustainable Construction must stop threatening use of environment or species wherever possible so that the natural habitat is not affected.
2. Support to the Community
Support and help should reach to the real need, aspirations and real requirements. Also involve the needed in the key decisions.
3. Effective use of resources
Overconsumption of disappropriate amount of resources like land, money, use or disposal, construction must be stopped. Wastage of resources, materials, water, poor design is not recommended. The building constructed have to be affordable and manageable.
Sand and Gravel are being used for thousands of years in construction. The demand for these is increasing day by day as demand for infrastructure development is increasing.
Over use of construction materials such river sand and gravels also have negative impact on environment. Excessive sand-and-gravel mining causes the degradation of rivers. Sand mining results in the lowering of the stream bottom, that results in bank erosion. This results in the destruction of aquatic and riparian habitat through large changes in the channel morphology. The harmful effects include bed degradation, lowered water tables and channel instability.
There are many harmful impacts of using river sand and mining of gravels and a detailed study is required to list all the negative impacts. The use of alternate building materials can reduce the impact of this on environment.
The alternate to river sand is Manufactured Sand (M-Sand) which can be used in construction works reduce impacts of mining river sand.
Read article on: Manufactured Sand (M-Sand)
4. Pollution Reduction
Less dependency on pollution causing products and materials, transports, power and energy are encouraged.
Annually billions of tons of demolition waste are generated worldwide for the need for new construction activities. Improper disposal of these waste tend to be hazardous to the environment. Below mentioned are some of the methods to make the construction waste sustainable:
- Elimination of production of construction waste
- Reduction of amount of construction waste
- Reuse construction wastes in other works.
- Recover (recycling, composting, energy) – recycle what you can only after you have reused it.
- Dispose what is left in a responsible way.
Use of durable construction materials and quality control at site for durability of structure is one step towards minimization of construction waste generation.
5. Creating Healthy Environment
Instead of endangering the health of worker, builders and occupants’ construction must enhance leisure, living and the working environments.
Around 40% of total energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are directly due to construction and operation of buildings. The best of to reduce this impact is the use of green buildings construction techniques.
Read Article: Green buildings
The use of transparent concrete in buildings also helps to reduce the use of energy for lighting during day time.
Read Article: Transparent concrete
6. Process Management
Too many aspirations for a project will won’t give sustainable construction. Hence, identification of appropriate targets, benchmarks and tools along with their proper management will give sustainability in construction.