We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, green construction is here to stay.
The construction industry is one of the largest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions in the UK, producing 13.5 million metric tons in 2019. Of that figure, buildings and building construction works emissions totalled 2.4 million metric tons, representing 17 per cent of total construction industry emissions.
Green construction is the antidote to outdated and unsustainable construction. It aims to reduce negative environmental impacts at a design, construction and operation phase, creating buildings that benefit its inhabitants and the environment for generations to come.
The benefits are clear from an economic, social and environmental perspective and yet some businesses have been more active than others in pursuing green construction. At Pexhurst, we believe the construction industry has a vital role to play in the transition to a zero-carbon economy and have a responsibility to take meaningful action.
We are committed to minimising the environmental impact of our work. This commitment is at the heart of our business and over the past year we have really ramped up our efforts to make good on this promise. Below we summarise a number of the sustainability initiatives we have introduced in the past 12 months.
Site Sustainability Managers
We have embedded BREEAM into our offering and are proud to have ten qualified BRE Site Sustainability Managers (SSM) which support the fulfilment of the sustainability aspects of a project at the construction, handover and close-out stages, including the target BREEAM rating.
Our SSM’s support our wider sustainability commitment; at every stage of the project lifecycle they look at the practicalities of implementing sustainable methods and its longevity.
Part of any meaningful action is understanding when to ask for help. Sustainability, especially within construction, is nuanced and intricate and getting it right requires expert advice. Someone who holds a great amount of knowledge, skills and experience in the area.
To help us on our sustainability journey, we engaged Anne Johnstone from Fair Futures Partnership to observe how our business is run and then produce a report to enable us to become a more sustainable business.
In the report titled ‘Demystifying ESG’, Johnstone provided a market overview, insights into the ESG commitments of our clients and competitors and ultimately, made six key recommendations to realise the opportunities presented by a ‘5Ps’ business model – People & Planet Prosperity through Purpose and Parity.
We have signed up to an environmental site monitoring and reporting software which helps monitor all site-based water/waste/energy consumption and record data in alignment with BREEAM in one accessible tool.
SmartWaste can be used to set KPIs in order to meet BREEAM certifications as well as create site waste management plans in order to meet requirements. The tool helps to ensure clients are compliant with waste regulations, promoting the 4 R’s of waste; reduce, reuse, recycle, recovery and landfill. Additionally, all material supplier records and certificates can be uploaded as well as deliveries being recorded to track and manage carbon footprint.
Sustainable Materials list
We are currently working on a top 50 list of Pexhurst endorsed sustainable alternatives that we plan to present to all our clients. We have a dedicated team working on this and they are busy researching accredited b-corp organisations and products that have a good EPD rating to be featured on the list. This will not only accelerate the move towards more environmentally friendly options, but also give us a commercial advantage over our competitors.
A few others...
In addition to all of the above, we are also:
- Sourcing recycled/eco-friendly cleaning materials i.e 100% recycled toilet roll, anti-bacterial sprays, biological eco-friendly urinal blocks and general site welfare
- Building up a library of suppliers EPD’s and FSC certificates
- Biodegradable signage across all sites
- Producing waste reports from suppliers each month
The effects of green construction will be felt not just in the industry but across society more broadly. But at Pexhurst, when it comes to making construction more sustainable, we like to ask: if not now, then when?
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