Sustainability in Construction
houseUP and sustainable construction
At houseUp we are committed to minimising our impact on the environment. In any project, we will consider the effects of our carbon emissions, use of resources, and management of waste, through every stage. We take our commitment to the environment as seriously as our commitment to our clients. As well as our own immediate responsibility, we will guide you through the ethical considerations and questions posed during the design and renovation process, helping you to make positive environmental choices that are long-lasting and financially accessible to you.
It is widely accepted that the construction industry is responsible for around 40% of the world's carbon emissions and for consuming around 30% of the world's natural resources. With this in mind, it is crucial that we; the global construction industry, houseUP an independent company, and individual clients, play our part in reducing the negative impact on our planet, our well-being, and our future.
What is sustainability in construction?
Sustainability in construction means addressing the urgency of climate change caused by the industry, and reacting to it responsibly by the means within our collective power. In order to do this, our priorities for improving sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint are:
- increasing our use of renewable resources
- increasing our use of recyclable materials
- reducing waste
- reducing energy consumption
We can talk about sustainability in construction from two angles. Firstly, from a client's perspective. What does your sustainability vision look like? What are your personal objectives for your project? They might be:
- high performance windows to conserve energy
- installation of solar panels to generate energy
- a property free from non-recycled plastics
- natural materials for insulation, such as sheep's wool, hemp or cork
- recycled or reclaimed materials for finishes and furniture
- fundamental preservation of any local biodiversity or habitats
And from our perspective, how will we maintain our commitment to sustainability while working with you on your project? They will be:
- choosing sustainable and recyclable building materials; i.e. timber from properly managed forests, mud bricks etc.
- considering embodied energy in building materials
- controlling site waste management through minimizing, separating and
- recycling waste
- minimising water waste through on-site water treatment
- reducing energy consumption / promoting energy efficiency during construction
- ensuring energy efficiency and life-long value post construction
While we are drivers for change in this area, we recognise there are barriers to sustainable construction. Therefore, we are focussed on increasing understanding so that they may be better understood and eventually become less impeding, when it comes to opting for a more environmentally-friendly build. Some of the obstacles preventing greener construction are:
- Lack of client awareness when it comes to the wealth of sustainable options available.
- Convenience. Some contractors and clients will opt for the familiar and often cheaper designs, processes, materials and technologies, which may not have environmental benefits.
- Attitudes to change.
- Value. Tools for measuring the performance of green buildings are still underdeveloped, and this poses the question: Is it worth it?
- The preconception that there will be a greater financial outlay.
- Few contractors, designers, tradespeople with the necessary expertise and skill are available.
Although it is true that green buildings are more expensive to build, on average the cost is only an additional 2%. However, there is evidence to suggest that over time, due to lower operational costs, your green home will save you money. Therefore, we believe that committing to sustainable renovation is a long term investment.
Our sustainable construction services
Undertaking a renovation project can be daunting from a homeowner's viewpoint. What will the impact be on family life during the construction? How long will it take? Have I chosen a trustworthy and reliable contractor? What will it cost? And now, we also have to seriously consider the environmental impact.
These three popular renovation services are low impact solutions to the issues of creating space and saving energy.
In addition to maximising your living space, a considerately planned loft conversion will make your whole home more energy efficient and result in lower energy bills. High performance windows and insulation are key elements.
A poorly insulated basement can draw heat from the property downwards which could be increasing your household energy consumption. An environmentally friendly basement conversion, or renovation, will fortify floor, wall and ceiling insulation thus creating a cushion of warm air, and a more useable and comfortable space, below.
Moving house is not only an upheaval on a family, but the environmental impact is huge. If you have outgrown your living space, building an extension will cause less disruption to your home life, save money, and is a more eco-friendly choice overall.
Our primary aim is to help you to realise your goals for a greener Victorian home, making it comfortable, beautiful, liveable, and sustainable. Our range of services will put the environment at the forefront while honouring the period character of your property.
From the beginning we have been quietly considerate in our approach to sustainability in our industry as we believe it to be integral to modern day life, not a just contemporary trend for favourable marketing purposes.
- We diligently monitor and calculate our carbon emissions and we offset as much as possible.
- All employees and consultants use public transport to travel between projects.
- Our company car is electric.
- We partner with architects and suppliers who share our values and commitment, and who collaborate in designing and installing high energy performance properties.
- Almost 100% of our properties are based on green retrofitting.
- In terms of waste disposal, we only work with companies who recycle 99% of waste.
- We regularly attend the Futurebuild conference in order to develop, share, and be inspired by peers and experts striving for net zero in the field of construction.
We are in fact carbon neutral for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol – which provides the most widely recognised accounting standards for greenhouse gas emissions – categorises GHG emissions into three scopes.
Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the purchase and use of electricity, steam, heating and cooling. By using the energy, an organisation is indirectly responsible for the release of these GHG emissions.
We are in fact carbon neutral for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, as certified by the ESG Management Platform Equilibrium.
Scope 3 emissions are those produced when working on a building project. For construction projects more than 85% of emissions are related to embodied carbon, that is from construction materials, and to fuel consumption, that is from electricity on site and as consumed by means of transportation.
We are currently working on expanding the information we share, when we produce a Bill of Quantities and a Schedule of Work for a Tender.
houseUP now includes in their quotes and estimates a value that indicates the embodied carbon emitted by each construction material necessary to complete the work, line by line along the detailed quotation.
At houseUp we welcome any conversation around the topic of environmental sustainability in construction. Whether your priority is a warmer home, lower energy bills, or making a positive contribution personally to a global problem, one of our experts will gladly discuss it during a no-obligation consultation.
With sustainable construction at the heart of our company values, we are in the perfect position to answer your questions and guide you through your project towards a greener property that is both high-performing and contributes towards the safeguarding of future generations and the planet.
Are you into sustainability, too?
We would love to hear from you. Contact us if you want to hear more about our journey, recommend content and actions, and participate to our future events.