Sustainable Practices in Construction Management

Sustainable Practices in Construction Management

As one of the largest consumers of raw materials and natural resources, the construction industry is under significant pressure to become more sustainable. The process sounds complex and can be. As construction management teams work to address ways to reduce costs, shore up labor shortages, and build more efficiently, they stand to see benefits including brand image, client satisfaction, and reduced energy costs.

The International Energy Agency found that the construction industry accounted for 36% of final energy use. It also accounted for 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions. On a global scale, this builds quickly and can be both expensive to manage from the standpoint of construction management and also from the planet’s losses along the way.

There are sustainable construction practices present that can offer solutions both for reducing the impact on the environment and promoting the long-term sustainability of organizations. In a world where going green is a necessary step, organizations need to find effective but cost-efficient methods of reducing their impact. But what areas should construction managers focus on to have the biggest impact?

LEED Certification Requirements

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a strategy that aims to promote highly efficient, healthy, and green building strategies that support the health of the planet as a whole. Put in place and managed by the U.S. Green Building Council, organizations that work through this certification process are able to earn a certificate. The goal is to lower carbon emissions, and there are various ways to do so. They include:

  • Building operations and maintenance
  • Interior design and construction
  • Building design and construction
  • Homes
  • Cities
  • Neighborhood development

Green Building Materials

From design to application, construction teams that make changes to the materials they use can reduce the impact on the environment as a whole. Some materials are more taxing to remove, produce, and reuse than others. By making the switch to more sustainable building materials, organizations reduce their impact on the planet. Examples include:

  • Adobe, an ancient building material, this noncombustible masonry product is also excellent for its low sound transmission.
  • Cork, a natural product from cork oak trees, is an excellent insulator that’s removed from trees without damaging them.
  • Cob, a mud mixture made with soil, sand, straw, and other natural ingredients, is both affordable and easy to work with for finishings.
  • Straw, used as wall foundation and insulation, straw is a reneable, inexpensive product that’s finished with plaster to create a solid surface.
  • Stone, a low maintenance natural resource that’s highly durable and doesn’t release any toxins into the air within an interior environment.
  • Bamboo, a fast-growing and durable wood, which is also lightweight and easy to transport.

Many of these products can offer the same benefits in energy efficiency (or better) while also maintaining competitive pricing, making them something organizations just need to learn and adopt with ease.

Energy-efficient Design Strategies

Another way construction managers can work towards improving their impact on the environment is to employ more energy-efficient designs. 

There are many methods that can be used to achieve this goal. That includes designing a building with a high R-value, which means the walls and roof are highly insulated, and even the glass components have a low solar heat loss during winter and low solar heat gain during summer. Focusing on interior glass, efficient water heating, LED-specific lighting, and energy-efficient HVAC can make a marked improvement in how the organization is effectively managing carbon emissions.

Waste Management Techniques

The goal with construction is always to eliminate waste, but the key is not to see it as an overwhelming strategy. Consider these strategies:

  • Reuse materials whenever possible from project-to-project or through third-party resources
  • Instead of sending demolition material to the landfill, reuse components or provide access to a recycling center
  • Use fewer materials in the first place that produce waste
  • Incorporate strategies to use materials, including energy, at a more efficient level

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that 90% of the total 600 million tons of construction and demolition waste produced by the construction industry comes from demolition, and much of that can be recycled.

Water Conservation Measures

The construction industry uses as much as 15% of the total public water supply in the U.S. However, by recycling greywater and employing other strategies, this number can be slashed in half.

To do this, organizations must focus heavily on adjusting what they use water for, such as conserving water from sinks to use to clean off equipment. Moving to air-forced systems rather than water-focused systems can also help.


Incorporating these sustainable practices allows construction management teams to see a significant improvement in the impact their business has on the planet. It may also create a refined outcome for improving costs.

At MRINetwork, our team is working to support your needs. Turn to our construction management professionals for guidance on how to hire the best employees for your business. Contact us now.