The global focus on environmental responsibility is continuing to intensify and for the construction industry to succeed in its endeavours, it needs to recruit and upskill professionals with expertise in sustainable materials.
As we have discussed in previous posts, sustainable materials and methods will be vital to make progress towards the Government's Net Zero target, but at the moment, knowledge is perceived as lacking, so identifying and attracting individuals with specific sustainable materials skills will help the industry to tackle the ever-evolving challenges that we know the future will bring.
Why Sustainable Materials Matter
Hundreds of years of traditional construction methods means that our industry has been identified as a disproportionate contributor to the UK's carbon emissions and this is one leaderboard that we absolutely do not want to remain at the head of! A growing awareness of the impact of climate change is prompting the industry to investigate alternatives.
Sustainable materials will play a vital part in helping to reduce the industry's environmental impact without preventing construction companies from delivering the projects, homes and infrastructure of the future.
Next-gen materials such as Geopolymer will help businesses to lower their carbon emissions while using recycled steel and reclaimed or sustainably sourced wood reduces the volume of building materials that are consigned to landfill, reduces costs by encouraging a circular economy and can improve project timescales.
Many sustainable materials are custom-designed for their energy efficiency properties, and incorporating these materials into modern builds will create buildings which prioritise occupant comfort whilst reducing the need for artificial heating, cooling and ventilation. Energy efficient buildings are cheaper to maintain and can therefore attract higher rental values, recouping outlay more quickly than is possible with a traditionally built building.
Why sustainable material knowledge is needed
It may seem that the construction industry has a firm handle on the benefits and available options when it comes to incorporating sustainable materials into refits and new builds, but with governments worldwide continuing to implement stricter regulations, it is crucial that construction firms remain compliant. When an organisation's workforce includes professionals with a deep understanding of sustainable materials, it is possible to keep ahead of the curve and meet or exceed the mandated standards.
Clients will be under pressure to achieve demonstrable carbon reductions and keen to avoid the need to fund carbon offset projects, so it is likely that sustainability will continue to be a key requirement for all new projects. Winning prestigious and high profile contracts will likely only be possible when construction firms are able to demonstrate previous experience with sustainable materials and promote their environmental credentials.
While clients continue to demand greater environmental consciousness from the companies that they contract, budgets will increasingly be squeezed, and sustainable materials can play a fundamental role in delivering cost savings without adversely impacting on quality standards. As these materials typically have lower in-service maintenance needs and improved energy efficiency, long-term cost savings can be achieved which, alongside cost savings achieved by minimising waste in the build phase, can make projects more affordable.
Accessing talent with sustainable material knowledge.
There are two ways in which construction firms can access the talent that they need.
1. Hire skilled professionals. Whether on short term or permanent contracts, it is possible to bolster the workforce by recruiting individuals with the knowledge and experience that is necessary to make carbon-efficient decisions, win prominent contracts and enhance an organisation's environmental credentials.
These individuals may lack construction industry experience but be skilled in technology tools and platforms which can be used effectively to improve processes for selecting, sourcing and using sustainable materials. Construction firms will need to keep an open mind when recruiting employees with sustainable material expertise.
2. Upskill the existing workforce. As regulations and requirements continue to evolve, it is necessary for businesses to keep abreast of relevant updates to law and policy. Construction firms would be wise to nominate key team members to undertake ongoing professional development aimed at improving their sustainability skills and expertise.
Attendance at workshops and industry events can provide valuable insights, and collaborating with other industry professionals allows for vital knowledge sharing and the development of a collective approach.
In conclusion, the construction industry must take proactive measures to improve its long-term resilience and sourcing professionals with the sustainable material skills that it needs to be self-sufficient will stand it in good stead to handle whatever changes are introduced.