Best practice today
4. Use resources effectively
Using resources to their maximum efficiency is often touted as a key mechanism for achieving increased sustainability. However a drive to maximise efficiency may not always deliver the best product for the end-users. It is important to look to the needs of the end-users and make decisions based on utility, not only efficiency.
- Waste management is an obvious example of a system that can help to improve the profitability and lower the costs of the construction process: wasted materials are paid for twice - once when purchased and again when disposed of. A strategy for waste management based on the waste hierarchy can help all team members to design out waste, minimise waste creation on site and ensure any resulting waste is dealt with appropriately. This will result in a tidier, safer site where less of the total construction cost is being spent on activities that do not add value. Adopting Site Waste Management Plans (SWMPs) typically results in savings of around 3% of build costs - which represents straight bottom-line profit, or increased competitiveness for your business. The DTI has issued a voluntary Code of Practice for SWMPs which gives practical guidance as to how you can go about introducing this technique, and follows a simple checklist approach that is easy to adopt. You can download the guidance document and checklist, as well as a data sheet, here:
Site Waste Management Plan Checklist
Site Waste Management Plan data sheet
Site Waste Management Plans, Voluntary Code of Practice
- Water management is an area where considerable improvements to efficiency can easily be made for little or no additional cost - payback periods, especially for those on water meters, tend to be very short for the majority of options, and environmental benefits are also significant. Options may be as simple as specifying low-flow taps and toilets, or can go as far as grey water recycling.
- Appropriate use of materials is important here, as well as in reducing carbon dioxide. In this case, it is a question of considering what the material is to be used for, and whether it is the most appropriate material for that particular purpose. Does it have particular properties that are necessary for that application, or is it just a material that is commonly used for that purpose?
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