A look at sustainability in construction and the role technology plays.

Arrows and trees representing sustainability
staircase with tree, 2x10s

Historically speaking, construction and sustainability don't usually go hand-in-hand. Despite the good that construction delivers to building what society needs, we can't deny its environmental impact. It's clear a shift towards sustainability is desperately needed, so in honor of World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5th, we're looking at the construction industry's impact on the environment and the tactics the industry can implement to improve its environmental footprint.

Construction greatly impacts the environment, but there are ways to address it.

In early April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report, which assesses the impacts of climate change and reviews the limits of the natural world. The 2022 report details the enormous implications for every nation and industry if meaningful change doesn't happen (and soon).

The construction industry alone contributes 36% of final energy use, 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and statistics show that construction accounts for 50% of landfill waste, 40% of polluted drinking water, and 23% of air pollution.

So, how do we make construction more sustainable without harming business or the quality of a project? We got together with our industry experts and pulled together a few ways we can scale back practices that affect the environment at various phases of construction.

Workers climbing on construction work
Stack of pipes

Production Phase:

Opt-in for sustainable materials (like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes, concrete made from granulated blast-furnace slag, composite roofing shingles, or bamboo floors) to reduce the lifetime cost of a building and increases the resale value of the property.

Use Phase:

Designing LEED-certified buildings to reduce stress on the environment. Green buildings generate less waste and lower the use of energy, water, and other resources. LEED-certified properties also cost less to maintain, and owners can see 20% lower maintenance costs than typical commercial buildings.

Skyscrapers in cloudsDemolishing a building

Demolition Phase:

Reducing demolition dust with a targeted water-based dust suppression system and installing temporary barriers around the site can block dust and other particulates from seeping into surrounding areas.

Crew of workers in safety vests

The StructionSite impact

Adopting mixed and augmented reality technologies helps reduce rework, material use and waste, and overall energy consumption. At StructionSite, we believe that construction technology will play a critical role in unlocking long-term sustainability in construction.

While StructionSite wasn't designed to lower carbon emissions, our data team has uncovered that documenting jobsite progress with 360 photos and videos, and providing the ability to access the jobsite remotely, has resulted in a positive impact on the environment. Here is a snapshot of what we've uncovered at our own company, all filtered through the lens of sustainability:

Saving driving miles and taking cars off of the road.

Person driving in car

One of StructionSite's capabilities allows users to create a 3D view of their jobsites as they capture photos. Viewing this "digital twin" on their laptop or phone saves project managers and team leaders multiple trips to the jobsite. The average distance between our customers' offices and their jobsites is 15 miles. Our data has shown that the strategic application of technology saved organizations and workers almost 16 million driving miles by reducing the need to travel  back and forth between sites. This translates to an offset of 55,000 metric tons of CO2 from tailpipe emissions, which is equivalent to taking 11,000 cars off the road for a year. Our users have, in total, saved more than 3 million travel hours since early 2021.

Lowering wasted materials through production tracking and reducing rework.

Billions of dollars in the industry – up to 30% – are lost from material waste associated with schedule mishaps or rework. Our customers are saving, on average, $5,000 per $1 million of construction volume by using 360-degree image capture and digital twins of jobsites to reduce unnecessary rework – like opening up a wall to see if backing was put in place – and help project teams plan more efficiently.

Inaccurate production rates have a massive impact on material waste in the industry. Accurately tracking and predicting production rates helps estimators calculate the dollar amount more precisely , and schedulers dial down their construction timelines, reducing time and material wastage while avoiding project delays.

pile of wood

The unexpected social impact.

Cars on freeway

When analyzing our user data and speaking to our customers, one of the surprising benefits we've uncovered is a clear impact on the quality of life for those using construction tech like StructionSite. Time savings, like reducing driving hours, allows project teams to use that time in other areas of their life. By digitizing and optimizing the industry, teams can work smarter, faster, and gain insights to help make them even more efficient in the future - creating a constant loop of data capture to be leveraged for continuous improvement.

Is technology the key to creating a greener future?

When we look at creating a sustainable, green future, we need to turn our eyes to technology – for every industry. Technology drives industry innovation and creates new possibilities for processes that can be replaced with more sustainable alternatives. As we continue to find ways to be greener and environmentally friendly, look to construction tech to influence or replace functions in your company that may be significant contributors to climate change.

Worker using Site Documentation on mobile device
By using this site or clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Cookie Policy for more information.