As surveyors, we play an important role in helping clients meet sustainability requirements in construction. Official targets aside, we believe it is our professional and moral duty to steer the sector in a more environmentally conscious direction.
While this is an ambitious approach, it is essential for the future of the planet that we take our role seriously. On a simple level, we always keep three key factors in mind when advising on any project:
- Energy efficiency
- Eco-friendly materials
- Environmentally conscious design.
What is sustainability in surveying?
As surveyors, we directly impact how buildings are constructed. We have a responsibility to steer projects in a sustainable direction, considering factors such as:
- The use of renewable resources
- Minimising energy use
- Managing waste
- Energy efficiency through design
- Disturbing wildlife/destroying habitats
- Choice of materials: CO2 emissions during production/impact of mining
- Transporting materials: CO2 emissions
What can surveyors do?
A surveyor plays a vital role in construction. They are tasked with keeping building costs down while ensuring a smooth building process. But how much impact can a surveyor really have when it comes to driving sustainability? You might be surprised…
- When drawing up the list of building materials, a surveyor can advise on the different options available, steering decisions in a more sustainable direction.
- A surveyor can consider and encourage the possibility of reusing or recycling existing buildings/materials. This is often popular with everyone involved as it minimises costs, effort and waste.
- Minimising energy use; choosing local suppliers (reducing transport costs and emissions); and opting for less harmful materials can also be encouraged by a surveyor.
- A surveyor can also consider the wider picture on-site, looking at the environmental impact of the construction project and taking steps to minimise the destruction and pollution of the natural environment. Often this is undertaken in conjunction with the specialists employed by the Local Authority, or a third-party environmental consultant.
What is the problem with concrete?
Concrete is the second-most used material on earth (after water) and the most used building material. It has been popular for thousands of years and there are good reasons for this: it is versatile, strong, and durable. However, its production significantly impacts the environment.
The manufacture of concrete is responsible for 5-7% of annual CO2 emissions. When in situ, concrete damages fertile topsoil and impacts water runoff, contributing to soil erosion, flooding, and pollution. The use of this material also means more ecological alternatives such as wood, a form of natural carbon storage, are overlooked.
What is ecological surveying?
While we always try to promote sustainability in surveying, ecological surveying is a specific discipline of its own. An ecological survey is an assessment of a proposed development site to consider what environmental impact the building process will have.
You will need to arrange an ecological survey if there is a possibility of an established ecosystem or protected species living on your site.
Get in touch
Far from hindering progress in the construction industry, sustainable practices lead to innovation, creativity and better building for future generations.
We view sustainability in surveying as an exciting opportunity to make real improvements in a sector we care about. It is a challenge we enjoy and are enthusiastic in helping our clients understand the possibilities within construction.
If you would like to find out more or would like to arrange ecological surveying, please get in touch. Our knowledgeable team will be happy to answer all your questions.
https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/objects-and-stories/everyday-wonders/building-modern-world-concrete-and-our-environment#:~:text=The%20environmental%20impact%20of%20concrete,-Concrete%20is%20now&text=Cement%20production%20alone%20generates%20around,to%20around%201%2C500%C2%B0C. [Accessed 27/10/23]