PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
innovations to reduce environmental impact of construction

3 Innovations That Reduce Environmental Impact of Construction [Infographic]

How Technology Will Build a Brighter Future

Did you know that the commercial construction industry is expected to increase by 8.8% in 2018? For construction firms, this is great news as more growth usually means more business. Nevertheless, the increase does come at a price. While the industry erects our cities, the environmental impact of construction is hardly ignorable and places a heavy toll on our planet. In fact, construction waste is expected to almost double within the next seven years.

Fortunately, there are ways to proactively reduce the amount of raw materials consumed along with the waste this produces. Nonetheless, it takes more than good intentions. Companies serious about improving the wellbeing of our planet need to implement innovations that reduce their impact from building. But what technology has the greatest impact? Below, we’ll discuss three of the most innovative processes and technology that the commercial construction industry can use to build a brighter future for our world. But first, take a look at our infographic that highlights the detrimental toll construction can take on our environment.

The environmental impact of construction - green building



Let’s start with one of the more technical approaches to waste reduction. Also known as building information modeling, BIM has the capacity to reduce construction waste by up to 45%. When using BIM, construction firms can make more accurate estimations on their designs. Therefore, there are fewer errors made on the construction site, which improves labor productivity by keeping workers on track with projects.

More importantly, using BIM on projects can reduce waste resulting from mistakes made on the building site. In general, better visualization early in a project’s planning phase means designs are more likely to be built according to plan. By implementing productivity savings in the design phase, companies have to deal with fewer last-minute changes and rework. In turn, this has a positive environmental impact on construction, while also saving construction companies money on lost labor and materials.

3D Printing

While 3D printing might feel like a novel approach to construction, forward-facing construction companies have already has been showcasing its power and possibilities. In addition, 3D printing is fast evolving from polymer materials to construction-worthy materials including steel and concrete. As a result, the world has already seen the first office buildings and bridges built using 3D printing.

Dubai is a forerunner in innovative commercial construction, as seen with the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy. Currently, the city is exploring ways to use 3D printing to build lighting products, foundations, construction joints and city parks. In fact, Dubai reports that 25% of the city’s buildings will be developed using 3D printing by 2025.

3D printing in the commercial construction sector is cropping up around the world including in China, the Netherlands, and even in the US. For instance in Amsterdam, the world’s first steel bridge was constructed using 3D printing as reported by Construction Dive.

By working with 3D printing, construction firms can reduce the amount of naturally sourced materials, such steel, that are needed. In a project on 3D-printed steel components, Arup achieved a 40% reduction in materials compared with traditional production methods. Imagine the potential 3D printing has for even larger projects. While your company may be still a few years off from adopting 3D printing, keep the trend in mind for the next coming years. When implemented correctly, it will be a critical way for firms to reduce the environmental impact of construction by reducing our planet’s dependence on non-sustainable resources.

Construction Software and Automation

Walk into your average construction office or trailer, and you’ll see stacks of paper in nearly every corner your look. Now, think about the number of trees it takes to produce all that paper. No matter how you look at it, it’s a lot. Thus, through digitizing blueprints and documents and automating back-office processes, construction companies can make great strides in becoming more eco-friendly. Construction software enables firms to handle everything from invoices to automating time-consuming processes like submittals. This digitization of documents creates paperless companies–the ultimate dream for eco-conscious and lean construction teams.

By cutting down the amount of paper used in your construction business, you dramatically reduce the amount of waste you produce. Another added benefit of losing paper is that a paperless system also makes finding information and organization more efficient, increasing your efficiency immediately.

When everything your firm needs is available on your laptop or mobile device using a cloud-based storage system, productivity improves. More importantly, fewer mistakes are made due to inefficient communication. On the whole, this helps reduce wasted time and materials at the construction site while boosting your credibility among clients. All in all, the right construction software allows firms to spend more time handling front-office tasks, such as proactively interacting with clients to win more business and improve business relationships.

Reduce the Environmental Impact of Construction

Would you like reduce the environmental impact of construction and improve your construction firm’s practices? Awareness is the first step to making a real impact. Check out our green construction infographic on the environmental impact of construction above, and share this important information with to keep the eco-conscious conversation going.

Grace Ellis

As a Content Marketing Manager at PlanGrid, Grace is the managing editor for the PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog. With over eight years of experience in marketing, communications and PR for technology companies, she is specialized in high-quality content creation across both traditional and digital media platforms.

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