A sizeable percentage of this is specifically linked to concrete production; the manufacturing of the cement used to make concrete contributes to 7% of the world's total carbon emissions.
To put this in context, the entire nation of the UK has contributed 3% of the globe's carbon emissions since records began in 1850. This comparison goes to show just how large the impact of the construction industry is on the world's carbon emissions.
At Nationwide Concreting, we're always looking for ways to improve the sector's sustainability. Here, we'll look at 6 ways the construction industry can reduce carbon emissions, and why it's important.
High carbon emissions are resulting in global warming, seeing a worldwide rise in temperature of 1.5°C. This has already had an impact on people, wildlife and the planet. The government is looking to prevent this temperature rising further.
Therefore, the government has set targets for carbon emissions, aiming to achieve a Net Zero target by 2050 (compared to emission levels in 1990). This includes intermediate targets, such as reducing carbon emissions by 68% by 2030 and 78% by 2035.
Based on the sizeable contribution that the construction industry has to all carbon emissions, a heavy focus will be placed on how well the sector is helping to meet these targets.
In order for the construction industry to reduce its effect on the environment, change is needed across the sector.
The process of reducing carbon emissions starts even before construction gets underway. At the design phase, there are choices that can be made to cut down on emissions through the building's entire lifecycle. This is known as a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and includes considerations such as repairs, energy requirements and water needs for the building's lifespan. Contractors have the ability to speak to both designers and sub-contractors to ensure a LCA is carried out.
Much like standard budgeting, it is important to stay accountable for the carbon emissions produced throughout a construction project. Without this, it's impossible to know which aspects are producing the most carbon and where emissions could be cut down.
The industry will need to start making reports based on the choices they make and the emissions these produce, as well as focus more on Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) which demonstrate the environmental impact of each material that could be chosen for the project.
Sourcing local materials is an easy way to keep carbon emissions down. Procuring materials from local sources means less travel and transportation which is another way to reduce emissions.
Ensure that the local producer is also making an effort to limit their own carbon emissions.
The transportation of construction materials and equipment may account for up to 16% of carbon emissions, so this is a big area for the industry to focus on.
Cutting down travelling distances and using more renewable energy and biofuels will help reduce the amount of carbon emissions produced by transportation.
In the construction industry there are plenty of opportunities to recycle materials from other projects, reducing the need to process and manufacture new materials.
One such option is using recycled aggregates in place of cement in concrete. This can dramatically reduce the amount of cement used in concrete and creates a more sustainable option.
As mentioned above, designers and contractors can use EPDs to assess the sustainability of materials before they choose to use them in their project. They can also research low-carbon materials to replace traditional building materials, reducing emissions.
When it comes to concrete, we recommend PrimX to help reduce carbon emissions. PrimX is reinforced, jointless concrete flooring that produces up to 70% less carbon emissions in its production compared to traditional concrete.
It's changes like this that will help lower the carbon emissions of construction projects and assist the industry in meeting government targets.
Find out more about PrimX sustainable concrete.
At Nationwide Concreting, we want to help the construction industry reduce its carbon footprint. That's why we're so proud of our partnership with PrimX, offering designers and contractors an easy way to start reducing the carbon emissions of their construction projects.