Objective: reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases, adapting to the impacts of climate change and providing low carbon solutions for our customers.
Rising global temperatures brought about by emissions of greenhouse gases will bring changes to weather patterns, rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. The principal greenhouse gas (GHG) is carbon dioxide (CO2) which is produced through the burning of fossil fuels during our use of energy in our buildings, projects and in transportation of both people and materials. The term Carbon is frequently used as short-hand for these emissions.
Concern about climate change and emissions of greenhouse gases has never been more intense. There is increasing evidence that early and rapid reductions in GHG emissions are needed to avoid the significant impacts of climate change. Moreover, the Stern Report on the Economics of Climate Change provided evidence that the benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic costs of not acting. Emissions reduction and adaptation is increasingly becoming a core part of many Governments strategies to address climate change. Construction and buildings are seen as key areas to cut CO2 emissions.
Objective: reducing the waste we generate and managing waste as a resource
Constructing, refurbishing and demolishing buildings, roads, railways, bridges, tunnels and other structures generates large quantities of waste. Waste is not just an environmental issue. There is a huge cost saving potential if we cut out the unnecessary waste of materials and waste in the construction process.
Waste from our sites and our projects should be managed in line with the waste hierarchy of control as illustrated below.
When discarded, time energy and materials put into producing that material are lost. In managing our waste we need to first of all be efficient in the use of the products and materials that we purchase in order to eliminate waste. Through design, construction and operation of infrastructure assets and buildings, our life cycle approach is one that seeks to minimise waste and conserve natural resources. BS ISO 15686-5:2008 Buildings and constructed assets Service life planning Part 5: Life cycle costing is a useful guidance document.
Objective: assessing and reducing our use of water
Freshwater is becoming an increasingly scarce resource in many parts of the world, which leads to competition between users (human societies and natural ecosystems). The United Nations estimates that 2.8 billion people in 48 countries will face water stress or scarcity conditions by 2025 and currently more than 20 percent of the world population lack access to safe water for drinking, personal hygiene and domestic use.
Accounting for water use is becoming increasingly important and in order to account for our water use, we must determine our water footprint. A water footprint is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce, goods and services consumed by the individual or community, or produced by the business. This includes both direct and indirect uses of water, as water is a basic input into many business processes and through the use of water, we produce effluents that can also harm the environment.
Here we are concerned with water that is consumed, rather than water that is polluted (production of waste water and effluents).
Objective: sourcing responsibly and selecting materials for lower environmental impacts
The Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) estimates that 40% of the world’s resources are consumed by the construction sector. Some materials have high levels of embodied carbon and/or water through processes used in their treatment or manufacture. They may also have an environmental impact from their maintenance, replacement and disposal over their lifetime. If not carefully managed, timber can be sourced from illegal logging or poorly managed forests leading to destruction of rainforests or land degradation.
Our customers increasingly expect their infrastructure to be built and maintained using materials with the minimum environmental impact over the life cycle and to have been responsibly sourced.
Re-processing demolition and other waste materials for use in our projects minimises demand for primary aggregates, helping to conserve these sources of materials for future generations.
Ziel: Schutz und Verbesserung ökologischer Ressourcen
The built environment can have a significant impact on the ecology of our environment, and some of our operations work alongside sensitive ecological areas such as regional and national nature reserves, conservation sites or sites of special scientific interest. Wildlife and geological features are increasingly becoming stressed and threatened due to human activities. Maintaining a rich diversity of species and habitats (healthy populations and a variety of species) is increasingly important to our customers and the communities affected by our work. Through our operations we have the opportunity to not only reduce our impacts on ecological resources, but to enhance it through better design, development and management of new build projects, infrastructure projects and in managing our sites and existing buildings better.
It is not just our projects were we can make a positive contribution to the local ecology, there are many things that can be done at our office premises. For example, our office internal environment can be improved through provision of office plants; composting food waste through the use of a wormery; outside grounds can be improved through native planting regimes and creating additional habitats by establishing bird and bat boxes.