The bond between climate change and the construction sector is indeed interesting. Both happen to impact each other, and both come with the potential to be prominently affected by each other.
It is well to be noted that climate change has gone on to impact the construction landscape because of its effect on weather conditions. For example, higher worldwide temperatures have led to increased building seasons and also elevated demand when it comes to air conditioning systems. Simultaneously, the extreme weather disasters such as hurricanes and floods go on to disrupt the construction sites and also the materials availability.
It is said that the construction sector is responsible for 40% of the worldwide GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. Be it the burning of fossil fuels or deforestation, the construction industry has had an effect on climate change in more ways than one.
So, how can the construction sector manage the influence of climate change? What are the solutions to this industry’s issues?
Weather events that are extreme
It is well worth noting that the data from the World Meteorological Organisation indicates that weather-led disasters have surged in the past five decades. As per one of the reports from an agency in the US, the research studies opine that these events are going to be more aggressive in the years to come. Apparently, extreme weather events can damage existing infrastructure and stall ongoing construction. They can also go on to cause disruption within the supply chain, thereby causing material supply delays and also labour unavailability or delays in it. Heatwaves also cause labour injuries. As per a report from the New York Times, heatwave-related injuries happen to be largely undercounted. And it is not just outdoor workers that get affected by it; indoor job locations are also pretty vulnerable.
Apart from the impact on labour health, these events also lead to more compensation cases. As a matter of fact, the related claims were partly to blame for the insurance losses that accounted for almost $49 billion in the third quarter of 2021.
Changes in the building codes as well as regulations
Because of the change in the climate, governments are also taking measures to make sure that the soaring temperatures are dealt with well. They are introducing novel building codes as well as regulations that can prove to be more costly to incorporate into the building design.
For instance, numerous nations require construction sites to make use of technologies as well as materials that happen to be energy efficient. The Paris Agreement happens to be a prominent example pertaining to this since it asks companies to lessen their carbon emissions and also hit net-zero by 2050.
So as to make sure that all this is attained, construction companies may very well have to-
- Make use of recyclable materials.
- Execute tech that is climate-smart.
- Deploy and make use of renewable energy systems like wind turbines and solar photovoltaics.
- Put into practise green infrastructure methodologies.
Notably, these practises tend to cost more than traditional ways of construction and can hence increase the entire cost of construction projects.
Sea levels that are rising
The fact is that the global glaciers are now losing almost 270 gigatonnes of ice per year, which is responsible for the rise in the annual sea level. Since ice caps as well as glaciers go on to melt, coastal cities and their infrastructures become vulnerable to floods. The new construction related to the area will have to follow guidelines that happen to be very specific. They will as well have to account for erosion as well as flooding, and therefore, these measures can require construction companies to make sure that they are hiring more professionals as well as making use of expensive products. These measures also go on to delay the construction process, as there are now more steps that the workers will have to complete.
How can the impact of climate change be managed by the construction sector?
It is worth considering that the construction sector needs to make alterations across the board so as to deal with changes in weather conditions. Here are some strategies that can be taken into account so as to deal with varied conditions:
Weather conditions of an extreme nature
In cases where dealing with extreme conditions is necessary, integrated energy efficiency strategies need to be in place. It must go on to have the following:
- Building infrastructure that can withstand power outages
- Making use of energy-efficient heating, electrical, and cooling systems
- Putting in place microgrids as well as storage energy systems
- Investment in green roofing and building insulation
- Integrating the drainage system so as to lessen the risk of flooding
- Deploying solar panels as well as numerous other renewable energy generation resources
- Making use of robust and resilient materials that can keep buildings safe in extreme weather scenarios
When it comes to design strategies, the construction sector must focus on the design of heating, ventilation, and cooling systems that can help lessen the damage caused by precipitation.
As per the World Bank, more than 1.45 billion people worldwide face the risk of flooding. It is thereby important to make buildings that can stand the test of time and damage caused by floods. The construction sector must make a choice to come up with building locations that are in sync with the city’s risk assessment plans.
It is well to be noted that commencement pertaining to new developments in flood-prone areas must be avoided at all times and at all costs. The new infrastructure must have stormwater management systems like-
- Retention Ponds
- Base structure elevation benchmarks
- Infiltration Trenches
- Downstream flood control and
- Materials that are flood-proof
Heat that’s extreme
It is a fact that cannot be overlooked. Future buildings will need all the cooling features that they can make use of. Hence, the construction industry should
- Make use of green roofs so as to keep the buildings cool.
- Make use of surfaces that are reflective in order to reflect the heat away.
- Deploy smart windows to safeguard against direct sunlight entry.
- Elevate vegetation so as to decrease the surface temperature.
- Make as much use of white roofs as possible for low heat absorption.
Safety of workers
It is often seen that the safety of workers on construction sites gets neglected when construction companies devise strategies to deal with climate change. It is thereby the need of the hour that construction companies make strategies to deal with climate change. They should also make use of the safety guidelines that are set by domestic and international authorities, and steps must be taken within indoor construction to make sure that the working conditions remain cool.
Just like every element of our lives, climate change affects the homes we live in as well as the buildings around us. Significantly, the construction sector must keep up with the times that are changing and also transform to tackle these issues.
With temperatures that are going beyond the limits, heatwaves, floods, and other disasters are bound to become common, and the only way the construction sector can manage these issues is by resorting to green steps.
Besides, the sector should also prioritise the safety of workers, make use of durable materials, and construct homes that have wider porches as well as green roofs so as to make sure that the internal temperatures remain cool.