Imagine the heart-wrenching scenes of the 2022 flood that engulfed Nigeria, Niger and Chad for an entire month. The sheer devastation it unleashed is beyond imagination, claiming the lives of over 800 people and displacing more than 1.5 million citizens. This deluge of destruction swept through multiple states, leaving behind a wake of unimaginable suffering—leaving scars on the health, economy, physical structures, and mental well-being of both individuals and the entire nation. According to The Guardian, about 80% of the flood is attributed to climate change.
When it comes to climate change, the building and construction industry shoulders a significant responsibility. This sector is responsible for about 39% of carbon emissions, which contribute to greenhouse gasses and disrupt weather patterns. Of this figure, a striking 28% comes from energy consumption, while 11% stems from construction materials, also known as Embodied Carbon. One key way the construction industry can mitigate its impact on the environment is through the choice of construction materials. The materials used in construction have a direct influence on the planet. By opting for sustainable materials, the industry can reduce its carbon footprint and minimize environmental damage. It is essential to consider the following measures:
- Recycled Materials: Opt for building materials made from recycled content, such as recycled steel, reclaimed wood, or recycled plastic. These materials reduce the demand for virgin resources and help divert waste from landfills. Construction and demolition activities generate substantial amounts of waste. By utilizing recycled materials, such as recycled steel, reclaimed wood, or recycled plastic, construction companies can divert these materials from ending up in landfills.
- Water-Efficient Fixtures: Water-efficient fixtures, including low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads, are designed to use less water without compromising functionality. These fixtures incorporate technologies such as aerators, flow restrictors, and dual-flush mechanisms to optimize water usage. Compared to conventional fixtures, water-efficient alternatives can significantly reduce the volume of water consumed during construction and throughout the building’s life cycle.
- Lighter Roofing Materials: Opt for roofing materials that reflect sunlight, such as cool roofs, which reduce the heat island effect and the energy needed for cooling. The heat island effect refers to the phenomenon where urban areas experience higher temperatures compared to surrounding rural areas due to human activities and built infrastructure. Dark-colored roofing materials, such as traditional asphalt shingles, absorb and retain heat, exacerbating the heat island effect. In contrast, lighter roofing materials, also known as cool roofs, reflect a larger portion of sunlight, reducing the absorption of heat by the building and its surroundings. This helps mitigate the heat island effect by maintaining lower temperatures in urban areas, leading to improved thermal comfort and air quality.
At Sapir Project, we prioritize these actions to reduce the environmental impact of our construction activities, and we encourage architects and builders to adopt these practices. By incorporating these sustainable practices, the construction industry can contribute to mitigating climate change impacts, conserve resources, reduce carbon emissions, and create a more resilient and environmentally friendly built environments.