Early collaboration is key to sustainability in construction


The sustainability of buildings depends on collaboration between all parties early in the construction development process.

The use of construction design solutions with full BIM Level 1 and 2 capabilities and Revit 3D modelling provides detailed focus that helps form clients’ early plans with precision and proper selection of the best solutions and materials, ensuring efficiency and minimising wastage.

“Early engagement with subcontractors enables expertise to come to the party during the first stages of the project,” said Joanne Moore, group sustainability manager at ISD Solutions. “The results are better constructed and performing buildings which have improved air tightness, lower energy demands, less requirement for maintenance and a much longer life span. All of which reduces the overall carbon footprint of the project, both the embodied carbon at construction stage and the ongoing operational carbon produced during the lifespan of the building.

“We believe that there is significantly more opportunity to increase early collaboration across the industry. For example, on complex coldstore builds, ISD Solutions are often involved early on and the project benefits from all of the above. However in our Firewall division, the design is often complete by the time we get involved. This means that things like additional steelwork are sometimes required to meet fire regulations. However had the building be designed differently we could have avoided this along with the carbon emissions associated with it.”

The only way to develop this approach moving forward is through dynamically calculating embodied carbon as the design progresses, using the capabilities available through BIM, Moore believes.

“We would like to call the industry to improve design processes across the board, to avoid unnecessary late changes in design and extras that could have been avoided with the right people involved upfront. This is part of what contributes to unnecessary emissions, and we see earlier collaboration on design as part of the solution.

“As we progress on our journey towards Net Zero, we hope to set an example for other subcontractors to follow. We are already working with one of our major construction contractor clients in utilising carbon calculation software, and our newly developed sustainability strategy has set a range of objectives to deploy in the short, medium and long term.

“These include technologies for monitoring energy use in our own premises and on our sites, a full transition to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO fuel) in the plant we use, and innovative schemes around recycling and re-use of the products we install.

“In general, our aim is to play our small part in making positive change throughout our industry, by fostering a culture of quality and efficiency over short-term cost savings. We believe the long-term benefits are considerable and worthwhile, often resulting in larger cost savings over the longer term.”

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