Environmental Challenges Faced by Large Construction Projects

Construction projects are undertaken in a wide variety of brown and green field sites, but it is not just the location that can present challenges, as other environmental and weather considerations must also be taken into account to ensure the success of a project.

We will look at some of the environmental challenges that construction projects face in this article.

Sustainability of construction projects

Construction projects are heavily reliant on the use of heavy mechanized plant and the need to receive huge amounts of building materials which are transported on trucks that consume large amounts of diesel and cause substantial carbon dioxide emissions.

Whilst projects have little control over the transportation of raw materials to a site, the use of locally sourced products will minimize the number and length of journeys required. They can also reduce the cost of the construction project. If certain products are not available, the use of distribution centres which collate and store a range of materials from remote locations will also reduce the total miles travelled to deliver goods to site.

Construction sites generate huge amounts of waste, which presents opportunities as well as challenges for the site management. If care is taken to use a number of skips, workers can be encouraged to sort the waste according to type so that as much as possible can be recycled. There may also be left-over materials that could be used for other nearby projects or even sold.

Larger construction companies should have purchase agreements with their suppliers that enforce sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible. Those companies listed on the UK stock exchange, for example, will be subject to government regulations to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The drive towards net zero will gradually percolate throughout most industries, so it will become standard practice for the suppliers within the construction industry to stive towards these targets too.

Minimising environmental damage

It’s an unfortunate fact that building works damage the land on which they are based. This is why planning permission is generally easier to obtain for brown field sites than green field locations where natural habitats and farm land may be damaged by the construction project.

An increased focus on environmental damage and the potential harm to animal and plant populations means that successfully obtaining planning permission is only possible after ecological surveys have been undertaken. Permission to build will generally only be granted if the builders restore the environment and protect any species that may be disturbed by the construction works and new buildings.

Access to construction sites can be problematic and depending on the terrain, large vehicles and earth moving plant may cause damage as they move around, which is where crane digging mats from companies like Northernmat.ca can be used to minimise damage to the land as well as allow construction vehicles to operate effectively.

Challenging weather conditions

Careful planning is undertaken in large construction sites to ensure that any building being built will be as watertight as possible before the onset of winter. Problems occur, however, when unseasonably bad weather disrupts building schedules, cause supply chain delays as well as interruptions to on-site activities.

Challenging weather conditions do not just interfere with the building phase of a new construction, but also play an important part in the design of the buildings being built. For example, if houses are being built alongside a river prone to flooding, provision will have to be made to ensure that the dwellings are built above the flood plain.

If houses are to be built in areas that suffer low temperatures during winter, they should be designed with excellent insulation and ensure that any external pipes are protected from low temperatures. Click here to see an example of a an advanced, self-regulating heat tracing system that can be used for efficient and reliable pipe freeze protection. Systems like this are particularly useful in countries which experience very cold, and prolonged winters.

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