Standardised Approach to Building for Better Air Quality
Sam Stacey, Challenging Director, Transforming Construction Challenge, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on reducing environmental impact of the construction industry.
Is modular housing the way forward?
Modular housing tends to bring to mind pods, and we don’t want to think just in these terms. We should focus more on smaller assemblies such as a wall panel or a roofing unit. Be as flexible as possible, but without a lot of logistical problems in terms of moving massive great modular houses down motorways etc.
What are some more environmentally friendly building materials?
Use less concrete and instead use cement replacements such as GGBS where the carbon emissions in production are much lower. I do think there will be an increase in the use of timber, but I don’t want everyone to rush towards it, you have to use it in the right way and address the durability of it.
In terms of materials, I think there will be a shift towards lighter buildings and we might also see a shift towards more sophisticated composite materials. Guidelines need to be set between the interfaces, building components and building function and then depending on all sorts of factors, local or architectural, people can design and deliver buildings from a range of materials.
What can be done to mitigate air pollution from the construction industry?
The main focus has to be on the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, taking into account all kinds of factors in terms of the environment. Involve less vehicle movement, and have less people on site and fewer deliveries. This also helps from the point of view of less cutting of materials on-site, so less dust etc.
Value-based procurement is one of our three fundamental principles in terms of transforming construction. This means value for everybody. It is up to the clients to decide what weighting to put on that, we are not going out there saying ‘build more roads’ we are saying build better.
We want to build more valuably for society and for the environment and there’s absolutely no doubt that the potential to do a lot of building is huge, whether it is improving the existing building stock, adding a certain amount of the transport infrastructure or building more schools and hospitals.
What do you think constitutes success for the construction industry over the next few years?
From my point of view, I want to see a really effective construction industry deployed in the most effective way to benefit society and the environment. I want to see a massively more sustainable built environment, a significant reduction in whole life cost of buildings, much faster delivery of buildings and I’d like to see an improvement in the balance of trade position for the UK.
Courtesy: Airquality News