How Environmental laws are changing construction

Environment construction Ellis Fox Blog

Historically those in construction have not looked favourably on environmental laws. Too often they’ve been viewed as a hinderance, delaying project starts and resulting in additional costs and complications.

Environmental impact studies and requirements for nutrient neutrality, for example, are vital to prevent further damage to the planet. However, interpretation of laws and implementation often cause stumbling blocks where there shouldn’t be.

Interpretation is key

A case in point is the recent relaxation of a law pertaining to the development of housing and nutrient neutrality. For context, this addresses water and soil pollution resulting from construction. In recent years this law was applied equally to all industries, and rightfully so. However, it also resulted in the delay of housing developments.

A new EU ruling has pointed to agriculture as a significantly greater contributor to the problem compared to construction.  Funding has been made available to the agricultural sector to reduce runoff in efforts to reduce pollution. Meanwhile, housing developments have been permitted to go ahead, on the provision that they take the necessary steps to reduce impact during construction.

Collaboration is vital

The takeaway from this is that rather than being on opposite side of the fence, those working to protect the environment and those seeking to develop infrastructure and the built environment should be collaborating. After all the objective of both are important and necessary.

Environmental impacts are complex, especially for an industry such as construction. Assessing impacts requires skilled professionals that understand both the environmental science perspective as well as legislative requirements.

Increasingly companies are seeing the value in hiring professionals with a strong understanding of environmental issues. By bringing in this type of expertise early on in planning phases it can help construction firms plan for and navigate environmental requirements. But there’s a greater opportunity.

When companies understand why certain steps need to be taken and what contributes to a project’s carbon footprint it can have a much bigger impact on how the project is rolled out. Instead of importing materials from further afield, buyers can look for more local supply. They may also consider alternate materials sourced locally from commercial recyclers. Even identify opportunities to use renewable energy sources as part of the construction.

The construction industry needs to use every opportunity to build more efficiently. Collaborating with cross sector expertise is an ideal way to identify better ways of working.