Environmental Challenges in the Construction Industry

  • 12 Pages
  • Published On: 13-12-2023
Introduction

The contemporary business environment regardless of the industry has had significant impact to the environment leading to effects such as global warming, air, water and soil pollution as well as social injustice. All these causes and effects inform sustainability challenges for companies in the current times. Increased use of nonrenewable energy as well as exploitation of nonrenewable resources in different activities and aspects of a project impacts increased and continued detrimental impacts to the world. This is especially true for the construction industry, automotive industry as well as fast fashion industries and many others. Regardless of these impacts however, companies and organizations can take up different actions and activities to impact the minimization of negative environmental impacts and enhance effective sustainability. This essay will focus on an organization within the construction industry, highlighting significant sustainability challenges impacting the organization as well as developing an action plan for effective handling and solution of a priority sustainability challenge. Among the major sustainability challenges and issues prevalent within the construction industry include global warming, air pollution, atmospheric toxicity, water pollution and deforestation (Neenu, 2020) while a majority of companies within the industry have had effective strategies in place to minimize these issues and challenges Elemental Constructors has not been quite successful yet in effecting suitable changes to enhance sustainability.

Elemental Constructors

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Elemental Constructors is Multinational Construction Company based in the United States and specifies in offering all in construction services for customers and clients. The company is a consortium of different construction professionals ranging from Architects, Construction Managers, Quantity Surveyors, Contractors, Real Estate Managers and even interior designers. The company often takes up entire construction projects from designing and building all the way to management thereby significantly saving the client money that would be necessary for hiring different companies for different professionals. In addition, the all in construction plan ensures effective and optimum use of resources and time ensuring timely and quality product development for clients regardless of the location of construction.

The company has been in existence for more than twenty years and has been involved in multiple construction projects majorly in the United States, but also in other countries such as Canada. The extensive experience by the company as such has come a long way in impacting its reputation and operations and subsequently enhancing the development of a strong brand and reputation in the construction industry making it one of the best construction companies around the world. However, the company is still lagging behind in its sustainability strategies and development. According to Afable (2019), construction projects and activities are among the main contributors of environmental pollution accounting for up to 40% of the world’s total carbon emissions. Further estimates suggest that emissions from commercial buildings and structures for which Elemental Constructors focus on will grow by about 1.8% by 2030.

The construction industry in general impacts the environment in multiple ways, for instance, through the methodology used, the materials used as well as the various operations involved in the construction industry. However while new and better construction methods, materials and techniques such as Green construction have been developed with an aim of minimizing the impact of construction on the environment, Elemental constructors are yet to fully develop and implement the green construction strategy to impact increased sustainability. Significant setbacks and challenges from different departments and divisions of the company are still impacted by the sustainability challenge of being able to affect a fully green construction strategy to ultimately minimize the organizations environmental impact.

Green construction

A major sustainability challenge facing Elemental Constructors is the adoption and implementation of Green construction in order to minimize the company’s contribution to environmental pollution and global warming. According to Forestell (2019), Green construction also referred to as green building or sustainable building refers to the development and application of construction processes and materials that are environmentally friendly and resource efficient so as to reduce or eliminate the structures negative impacts on the environment. Green construction is a concept or process applied in all stages of the construction project straight from the design and planning, construction, operation maintenance, renovation and demolition. This requires close corporation between contractors, architects, engineers as well as quantity surveyors and others, as such every professional and every department within the construction company is involved in the process and has a part to play in enhancing the implementation of green construction.

The main aim of the green building strategy of sustainability is to expand and compliment classical building design concerns including utility, comfort, durability and economical concerns thereby considering all the three dimensions of sustainability including people planet and profit (Riddell, 2017). According to Worldgbc.org (2020), construction companies such as Elemental contractors can focus on a wide range of features to enhance implementation of green construction and impact environmental sustainability including: Using renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal and wind energy, ensuring efficient use of resources such as water and ensuring effective ventilation within the building in the design and planning phase to minimize on the energy and cost of mechanical ventilation. Construction companies can also ensure good indoor air quality, reduction of pollution and waste materials through recycling and re use, using non toxic construction materials as well as consideration of the environment and the quality of life of the occupants in the designing, construction and Operation phases.

In the implementation of green construction and thereby addressing the sustainability challenge within Elemental Constructors, different departments including the Research and Development, Human Resource, finance, marketing and operations department all have significant roles to play with an aim of eventually minimizing the companies carbon footprint. These roles are effectively discussed.

Research and Development Department

The research and Development department is a significantly essential department for almost all companies and industries given its impact in the company’s activities such as innovation and competitive advantage. According to the European Commission for Environmental Eco-Innovation action plan (2011) Research and Development plays an important role in improving the environmental performance of different companies in different industries and is therefore a key element in sustainable development of companies such as Elemental Constructors. Developed technologies and best practices as a result of company research and development according to the international Energy Agency figures (Europa.eu, 2011) could save up to 26% of current energy use in global industries thereby enhancing efficient use and conservation of energy and impacting environmental sustainability. As such a most significant role of the R&D department at Elemental Constructors would be developing strategies and ways of minimizing energy consumption during construction projects as well as developing better construction designs that can significantly impact minimized energy use and environmental pollution. Through effective Research and Development, Elemental Constructors can develop or identify and adopt effective construction material, methodologies and activities with the least possible impact to the environment across the whole life time of a construction project. In this way, different employees within the company can then adopt green construction techniques and impact the reduction of the company’s carbon footprint.

Human Resource Department

A major aspect of addressing the sustainability challenge of green construction implementation lies on the company’s personnel and their ability to commit to green construction methodologies and strategies. In addition to hiring qualified talents with regards to green construction techniques and technologies, the companies Human Resource Department also needs to employ Green HRM strategies. According to Sheikh, Islam and Rahman (2019) Green HRM refers to employing environmentally friendly Human Resource Initiatives that subsequently results to low costs, greater efficiency and better employee management, engagement and retention. This consequently leads to significantly minimization of the levels of the company’s carbon footprint. Engaging HR initiatives such as electronic filing systems, recycling, car and job sharing, teleconferencing and telecommuting, virtual interviews as well as online recruitment and training ensures an energy efficient organization and produces a significant positive impact to minimizing environmental pollution in the long run. In adopting such initiatives as well as engaging in hiring employees with significant knowledge and experience in green construction, the HR department significantly contributes towards addressing the sustainability challenge highlighted.

Finance Department

A major aspect of green construction includes efficient and effective use of resources so as to significantly minimize construction costs and resource wastage. Through effective conservation of resources, the resulting impact to the environment such as pollution is also significantly minimized leading to enhanced environmental conservation. The finance department at Elemental Constructors therefore has a role of adopting green finance and ensuring significant contribution towards environmental conservation. According to Zafar (2020), Green financing, often used interchangeably with green investment refers to the development financial investments for sustainable development projects and initiatives. It also refers to investing in environmental policies and products that are effectively aimed towards development of a more sustainable economy. Elemental Constructors’ finance department can play a significant role in solving the green construction sustainability challenge through adopting the green financing and investment strategy. The adoption of this strategy will ensure the organization’s finances are only invested in environmentally sustainable developments as well as development of policies to enhance the company’s adoption and implementation of green construction. According to Lindenberg (2014) green financing ensures the isolation of company finances for key environmental considerations during construction including industrial pollution control, biodiversity protection and water sanitation finance to ensure the consideration and action against significant environmental pollutants and thereby enhancing green construction.

Marketing Department

Marketing is a significant department of all major companies and it provides a link with which the company and its prospective clients can learn about one another. Through marketing, different clients with different objectives and end goals can effectively evaluate a company’s offerings and decide whether or not to work with them. As such, it is the responsibility of the marketing department to popularize the company in light of its continued involvement in green construction and environmental conservation. Investment in Green construction is significantly expensive and as such, companies that carry out green construction have to also benefit from them by attracting clients who are equally interested and motivated in enhancing environmental sustainability (Yudelson, 2012). The marketing department at Elemental Constructors therefore has a role to market the company in light of their interest in green construction to attract clients and customers with similar aims and objectives and thereby enhance collaboration in green construction and environmental conservation. Access to like-minded clients and customers who do not mind spending and being involved in green construction and environmental conservation helps Elemental constructors to overcome their various challenges of effectively adopting green construction.

Operations Department

Construction projects, especially for commercial buildings involve significant operations such as excavations and actual construction processes which not only impact environmental pollution but enhance significant consumption of energy and use of resources. Construction materials and machinery release air pollutants such as dust and toxic gases while waste materials are also released into water sources leading to air and water pollution. In addition construction activities and operations are prone to emitting a lot of Noise leading to significant noise pollution (Guzder, 2019). All these aspects of operations eventually impact environmental degradation and pollution which contribute towards the company’s challenges in being able to fully adopt green construction. However better construction practices have been developed overtime to significantly influence minimized impact of construction operations to the environments. Critchley (2019) advances that the operation department can reduce these negative environmental impacts of construction operations through adopting green construction techniques and initiatives such as the use of low Sulphur diesel to minimize the emission of toxic gases during construction operations. Construction sites can also adopt movable noise barriers to prevent noise pollution as well as adopt treatment mechanisms for their waste products before dumping to minimize on their ultimate environmental impact. The operations department within Elemental Constructors can capitalize on developing such environmental pollution prevention mechanisms to further enhance the management of the green construction sustainability challenge.

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Summary and Action Plan

In summary, despite the significant challenge of adopting green construction to enhance sustainability in their construction, Elemental Constructors have the capability of effectively adopting different green construction techniques and operations in its various departments and thereby cumulatively leading to effective adoption of green construction for an enhanced environmental sustainability. The company’s action plan towards solving the challenge of adopting green construction as such, involves all the departments making a significant step towards green construction. As a single strategy, the implementation of green construction is broad and complex and provides a significant sustainability challenge for Elemental Constructors. However through the breakdown of the strategy to specific actions and tasks for each department, the company can easily adopt Green Construction and effectively minimize their carbon footprint.

The research and development department will research on the effective and practical green construction strategies and processes that can be applied by all other departments thereby presenting a starting point for the plan. Afterwards the other four departments will effectively carry out green construction strategies. For instance the HR department will adopt green HR initiatives such as electronic filing systems, recycling, car and job sharing, teleconferencing and telecommuting. The Finance department will adopt Green Finance initiatives such as accounting for pollution control and biodiversity conservation. The marketing department will involve marketing campaigns to attract clients and customers with a particular interest in environmental conservation while the operations department will ensure adoption of green construction processes and techniques to further ensure minimal environmental impact of the company’s construction processes. In this way the company will gradually move towards effective adoption of the green construction sustainability strategy.

References

Afable, M., 2019. Environmental Impact of Construction Addressed by Global Builders. [online] Bold Business. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Critchley, L., 2019. How to Control Construction Pollution. [online] AZoBuild.com. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Europa.eu, 2011. Importance of industry's R&D contribution to sustainability - Eco-innovation Action Plan - European Commission. [online] Eco-innovation Action Plan - European Commission. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Forestell, K., 2019. Green Construction: What It Is and Why It Matters | DOZR Blog. [online] DOZR Blog. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Guzder, K., 2019. Construction Pollution | Types & Prevention Methods. [online] The Hub | High Speed Training. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Lindenberg, N., 2014. Definition of Green Finance. [online] Cbd.int. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Riddell, T., 2017. Green Construction - The Future of the Industry - eSUB Construction Software. [online] eSUB Construction Software. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Sheikh, W., Islam, M. and Rahman, F., 2019. Implementing Green Human Resource Management: Cost-Effective Strategies and Tools. Journal of Entrepreneurship & Organization Management, 8(1), pp.1-8.

Worldgbc.org, 2020. What is green building? | World Green Building Council. [online] World Green Building Council. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Zafar, S., 2020. Green Financing as a Tool for Sustainable Development. [online] BioEnergy Consult. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].


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