How to Reduce Environmental Impact in Construction


Waste and ecosystem destruction first come to mind when it comes to the environmental impact of construction activities. Significant amounts of concrete, wood and other building materials go unused and disposed of at the project’s completion. Also, the project site might be originally a thriving natural ecosystem where a diverse flora and fauna lived.

That’s not the end though. The manufacture and sourcing of building materials also impact the environment. For example, cement production released more than 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2016 alone (around 8 per cent of the global total). It’s also an energy-intensive industry because of the high heat requirements of producing cement. Even in the sourcing of timber and wood there’s significant environmental impact. It’s likely that harvesting wood resulted to the loss of habitats as well as loss of biomass and nutrients from the soil (i.e. instead of the trees’ nutrient content going back to the soil, it goes out of the system).

How to reduce environmental impact in construction

What should we do then? Construction of new infrastructure is vital in supporting human life and enabling the economy. It seems then that including environmental sustainability and protection into the picture is impossible if not too costly or impractical.

Good news is that there are still some things we could do to reduce the impact on the environment. First, we can reduce the waste through optimal project management from sourcing the material down to its installation. For example, a huge percentage of building waste might come from damaged wood, tiles, roofs and other building materials. Through better management and monitoring the entire supply chain, waste will be minimised.

Aside from waste minimisation, we also have to think of how the new development would affect natural ecosystems and resources. For example, water and air pollution could result from the construction of a new building (especially during demolition of an existing structure wherein asbestos and lead could be released). The project might even change the land’s hydrological function thereby affecting local water supply. This then requires an integrated and systems approach because the environment is dynamic and we have to plan ahead for the second- and third-order effects to the environment.

It’s a complex endeavour and totally different from the traditional approach wherein the single goal is to complete the project on time and on budget. Today, we also have to complete the project while considering and minimising environmental impact. It requires seeing the big picture while paying attention to every detail. That is our approach here at E-Tech Group. Whether it’s a major road, rail, petrochemical, water or power infrastructure, our team applies efficient and responsible practices when completing construction projects. From materials supply to construction and debris waste disposal, we ensure strict compliance to industry and environmental regulations.